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Bruschi experiences work reduction
By Paul Kenyon,
The Providence Journal 10/06/01
FOXBORO -- Given his choice, Tedy Bruschi would like to be on the field
for as many plays as possible whenever the Patriots play a game.
Regular defense, nickel package or goal-line unit,
Bruschi wants to be there. Punting team, kickoff-return team or any special
team, count Bruschi in. The sixth-year linebacker from Arizona can't get enough
"I'd like to be out there every down, to tell you the
truth," Bruschi said Thursday.
Last season, Bruschi got his wish. He was on the field more than any other
"He played 1,200 plays, or whatever it was, last year,"
coach Bill Belichick pointed out. "That's a lot of plays for anybody."
This season, Belichick has cut down Bruschi's workload.
Bruschi is now part of a linebacker rotation with Bryan Cox and Ted Johnson, a
rotation that allows each player to get some rest. The change is not a
reflection on Bruschi's play, Belichick said, but rather an example of why he
feels his team is better defensively this season than last: It has more depth.
"Last year, it was hard to take players out of the game
because a lot of times you felt like the ones you were putting in were very
inexperienced or there was a dropoff in play, particularly on defense,"
Belichick said. "This year, when everybody's healthy we have good depth at the
linebacker and the secondary positions."
The goal, Belichick said, is to keep his players fresh.
"I think what happens is that guys get worn down," the coach
said. "To play 16 games, 60 or 70 plays for 16 games straight, every week, that
takes a toll . . . Realistically, the guy's not going to be at the same level
all 16 weeks. Some weeks he's going to be fine and feel good. Other weeks
there's going to be things that are going to nag him. He never has a good chance
to turn a corner and get over it because he's taking every play in practice and
he's taking every play in the game."
The added depth could be especially useful this week.
Sunday's game in Miami, where the temperatures are expected to be in the mid or
high 80s, will be one where a rest would be appreciated, even for Bruschi.
The defensive backs will continue to take turns, as will the
linebackers. Ty Law, Otis Smith and Terrell Buckley have been sharing time at
the corners all season.
"I think that rotation has been good," Belichick said of his
cornerbacks. "All three guys have given us a pretty solid level of play. We
really don't care who's in there." The Pats are doing the same thing at free
safety. There, Matt Stevens and Tebucky Jones are sharing the job.
Beyond keeping the players fresh, another benefit of
rotating the players is the team is able to strengthen its special teams.
Special-teams coach Brad Seely is using more players than last year on the
kicking and punting units.
"For example, at the safety position, you've seen Tebucky in
the kicking game, you've seen Matt Stevens in the kicking game, you've seen
Lawyer (Milloy) in the kicking game, as well as our back-up safeties, like
Je'Rod Cherry and Antwan (Harris) when he's been in there," Belichick noted.
"Rather than just pick out two guys (to play regularly) and kind of limit them
from the kicking game, and just use the third or fourth guy in the kicking game,
we've been able to get plays out of all those players (on special teams)."
For Belichick, the ideal situation would be to have players
involved in 35-50 plays per game, including special teams, rather than 60-70.
The line is the only area on the defensive unit where Belichick would like more
"We're still a little light on the defensive line in terms
of numbers," he said, "even though all those guys usually play and contribute in
Bruschi has had to adjust to the lighter workload, although
he is not reluctant to campaign for more work.
"It was nice to know last year that I could do that when
asked, and my body could hold up," he said. "Still, it's nice this year that we
have more guys available, that we've brought in more guys who can take a little
pressure off me.
"I can't really tell the difference right now," he said. "My
adrenaline is going. It's bubbling out there all the time. I'm still a young 28.
I feel good no matter how many plays I get.
"I realize that guys deserve to be out there. Coach
Belichick told me we were going to get a little rotation thing going in there,"
Bruschi added. "We've got good linebackers that are very capable. So, I said,
'All right, coach, if you don't need me to go every down, I'll accept my role
and go all-out when I'm out there.' "
The goal is to have everyone on defense work less and
produce more. While the results have been mixed thus far, Belichick thinks the
difference will be evident by the time the season concludes.
"Yes," Belichick said, "it's a much better situation than
what we had last year."
COUNTING ON THIS GUY BRUSCHI'S PLAY
MAKES HIM BELICHICK FAVORITE COACH COUNTS ON THIS GUY
Boston Globe - Tuesday, November 27, 2001
FOXBOROUGH - You get the sneaky suspicion that Bill Belichick has his guys. Tom
Brady is one of his guys. Terry Glenn is not one of his guys. Tedy Bruschi?
He is most definitely one of Belichick's guys.
You may not have noticed over the last two games, but the undersized
Bruschi has stepped into the middle linebacker position and acquitted
himself quite well. In Sunday's 34-17 dismantling of the Saints, Bruschi
drew some unsolicited praise from Belichick for his four-tackle
"That kid is a football player," Belichick said. "Even though he
playing on regular downs, he is playing some on third down, he is on the
punt team, he is on the kickoff-return team. You can't say enough about
Tedy. You put him out there and he just plays good no matter what you ask him
to do. He would probably play on offense if we needed him."
All Bruschi wants to do is play, period. He's an outside linebacker by
trade, but he made his reputation in college as a down lineman - he tied a
Division 1 career record for quarterback sacks with 52 at Arizona - and he
figures he's played all seven front defensive positions in his five-plus
seasons in New England. Last year, he was one of three Patriot defenders to
start all 16 games.
Lately, with both Bryan Cox and Ted Johnson sidelined, Bruschi has taken
over at middle linebacker. By NFL standards, he's a bit lean for the
position at 6 feet 1 inch, 245 pounds. But all that means is that he'll
adapt, adjust, and do whatever he can to make it work. He says he knows no
"I'm not going to just run over guys the way Ted does," Bruschi said.
"Ted is the physical presence in there. I'll use my angles. I'll use my
leverage. I'll use my balance. I'll use my quickness. Maybe I'll give them a
changeup once in a while."
Johnson may be back this weekend for the Jets game. Then again, he may not,
which means Bruschi would be back in the middle. In his last two games there,
he's had 11 tackles, one interception, and a deflected pass.
"I've been the man in the middle the last couple weeks," he said. "It's
something I haven't done in the past. But as a football player, you never
know what's going to happen and there are going to be certain weeks where
you're going to adjust your style of game to fit the team and to try and
stop an offense. That's what I've been doing for the last couple weeks. If I
have to do the same thing again, I'm prepared to do it."
That's the kind of thing Belichick loves to hear. Yesterday, at his
day-after news briefing, Belichick again tossed some unsolicited bonbons at
"You can't say enough about Tedy," Belichick said. "He's a good football
player. He's smart. He's instinctive. For a middle linebacker, he's quick and
active in there, a contrast in style to Bryan and Ted. I think he's a very
The head coach first crossed paths with the impetuous Bruschi in 1996.
That was the year Belichick joined Bill Parcells's staff and the year that
Bruschi was drafted in the third round, 86th overall. He played in every game
as a rookie and had two sacks in the Super Bowl.
The two were reunited last season when Belichick took over the Patriots. The
coach made a lot of changes, but Bruschi was not among them. Belichick said he
not only liked Bruschi's attitude and play, but he also thought Bruschi was a
serious student of the game.
"I am a student of the game," Bruschi said proudly. "But I also have
faith in my coaches. I don't just look at my position. I look at every
single spot and what those guys have to do, because a lot of times we have to
"I'm the type of guy, when something is put before me, I'm going to
accept the challenge and get the job done. Tell me what to do, and I will find
a way to get the job done."
He'll have a busy week planning for Curtis Martin and the hated Jets.
Bruschi called Martin the league MVP "for what he has done to that team.
They find a way to get it done." The Jets not only lead the division, they
also have won four straight and seven of the last eight against New
"They're a great team," Bruschi said. "And that makes me want to beat
them that much more. We haven't done it in so long. It's a game we've got to
get and I want to get because they've been getting the best of us.
"We have an opportunity now. Before, it always seemed like we were
digging ourselves deeper into a hole or digging ourselves out of a hole.
Now, we're in a position to have big games and that's all you want, to get in
the big games. We have that opportunity now, but that's all we have, an
opportunity. We have to decide what we're going to do with that
Good riddance to Terry Glenn.
(The Providence Journal)
Jim Donaldson 12/01/01
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. _ This is when you'd like to cross Knute Rockne with Dr.
This is when a football coach would love to be able to create the perfect player
by putting one guy's heart in another guy's body.
Because if Terry Glenn had Troy Brown's heart, his work ethic, his desire oh,
what a player the Patriots would have then.
But they don't have Glenn for today's monster of a game with the hated, dreaded,
archrival, AFC-East leading Jets at the Meadowlands.
He's not injured this week. At least not so seriously that he couldn't play.
He's suspended. Again.
Bad news. Good riddance.
The Patriots do, however, have Brown. And, despite Glenn's exceptional and
varied talents his speed, his hands, his moves most coaches would rather
have Troy Brown than Terry Glenn.
Especially at this point in the season, particularly in a game as important as
"The most important thing at this point," Pats coach Bill Belichick said, "is to
understand that anything could make a difference. Any play, any one thing, any
one situation, could make the difference.
"We have been in a lot of tight games and there have been a lot of close
situations, close plays, plays where just one or two little things could make a
huge difference. I think that is the message that our team needs to understand.
Every ounce of preparation, the smallest thing that they cover, and get right,
and are able to use in the game, can make differences in our season. That is the
point of the season that we are at right now."
The Patriots are at a crucial point in this surprising season in which they
suddenly have a shot at the playoffs a critical point where they desperate
need players who will play strict attention to even the smallest detail that can
make the difference in the game.
Players like Brown.
"He dots the I's and crosses the T's," Belichick said. "He's very diligent in
"He knows the way that (Jets cornerback) Ray Mickens plays is different than the
way that (Saints CB) Fred Thomas played last week, and so we have to do things a
little bit differently to try to adjust to the personnel, or the scheme, that
they're using. Those little things are critical.
"Several of our runs this year, Troy has really been a big factor because he has
made a block on a defensive back _ he's come in and cracked a guy, or screened
off a defender and so, instead of it being a six- or seven-yard run, it
goes for more than that.
"Those are the little things that don't show up in the stats, and they don't
show up in the receiver rankings and all of that, but he does a lot of them. He
does a lot of little things that help make you a good football team, just like
Tedy Bruschi does. It's hard to overstate those things."
Ah, yes, Tedy Bruschi.
As is the case with Brown, it's hard to overstate what Bruschi does for the
Patriots. Like Brown and unlike Glenn Bruschi is a guy you can count on.
"That kid is a football player," Belichick says of Bruschi. "He plays on regular
downs. He plays some on passing downs. He's on the punt team. He's on the
kickoff-return team. He's on our `hands' team for onside kicks. He's on the
field-goal block team.
"You can't say enough about Tedy. You put him out there and, no matter what you
ask him to do, he plays well. He'd probably play on offense, if we needed him."
Just as Brown would play on defense, if necessary.
Brown is the Patriots' prime offensive threat, with twice as many receptions as
any other player. He has 70 catches, for 885 yards and 5 touchdowns also
team-highs. Fellow wideout David Patten is second on the receiving list with 35
catches, for 529 yards and 4 TDs.
The sure handed Brown also returns punts. He's averaging 11.2 yards on 15
"Troy has exceptional hands," Belichick said. "He's very quick, and has good
upper-body strength. So there are a lot of defensive players who, if they're
strong enough to cover him, have trouble with his quickness. And those who are
quick enough to cover him, they have trouble with his strength."
Quickness, rather than strength, is Bruschi's strong suit. That and his
A defensive end at Arizona, where he tied an NCAA record by making 52 career
sacks, he was shifted to outside linebacker in the NFL because he's only 6-1 and
But, with Bryan Cox and Ted Johnson sidelined by injuries, Bruschi has moved
inside to middle linebacker in Belichick's revamped, 4-3 defensive alignment.
It's a difficult transition, but Bruschi's made the switch without complaint,
and with effectiveness.
"I'd rather be a player with desire and heart and fire," he said, "then a player
with all the talent in the world.
"I've seen so many guys with talent who should be here, but they're not, because
they didn't have the heart or the desire.
"To be successful, you've got to want it. You've got to have a burning desire to
go out and accomplish whatever it is you're determined to do.
"With me, I've always gone all all out. I give it all I've got and, whatever the
result is, it is. Whatever I'm doing, I do it hard."
It would be hard no, make that impossible for the Patriots to be doing
what they have this season without Bruschi and Brown.
Obviously, they've done it and will keep doing it without Glenn.
Bruschi give Browns a little something
Kevin McNamara 12/09/01
FOXBORO, Mass. As each week passes, the New England Patriots seem to hit
harder and harder. That collective toughness is quickly becoming this team's
Take Tedy Bruschi, for example. The veteran linebacker prides himself on
hitting. The bigger the crunch, the better. After Sunday's 27-16 victory over
Cleveland, Bruschi and his defensive partners knew they had accomplished what
was needed in extra-special fashion.
"We're playing defense the way I like to see it," Bruschi said. "Everybody's
hitting and that's forcing big plays for the defense. I think there's a
collective toughness with the defense right now."
The team's goals also change as weeks fall off the calendar. Early in the year,
the Pats were focused on digging out of a 1-3 hole. Winning yesterday was all
about knocking out a competitor in the playoff mix. Now, with three games left,
a playoff berth is clearly within view.
"I guess it's a new step because we haven't been in this territory in a little
while," Bruschi said. "It seems like a couple of weeks ago we were trying to
climb up and get over the .500 mark and now we're trying to put some space
between us and other teams. That's squashed and done now. So now we have three
games left and it's about are we going to be one of the teams in the playoffs.
It's something we have to do."
With more defensive efforts like yesterday's, the 8-5 Patriots could become a
major post-season force. Cleveland's Tim Couch came out firing, but the Patriots
never allowed an offensive touchdown. A Tebucky Jones interception on the second
play from scrimmage welcomed Couch to Foxboro Stadium. The Pats took advantage
with Adam Vinatieri drilling a 54-yard field goal for the game's first points.
Cleveland was much more successful the next time it had the ball, driving all
the way to the Patriot 10-yard line. But the Patriot's bend-but-don't-break
defense came through, beginning a day of outstanding red-zone efforts.
This one was helped a bit by the officials. On a third-and-goal play, Couch
appeared to hit Dennis Northcutt in the back of the end zone. After the Patriots
challenged the catch, the officials ruled Northcutt bobbled the ball on the
The Patriot's defensive players were spectators when the Browns scored their
only TD of the game. Cleveland cornerback Corey Fuller picked off a Tom Brady
pass and raced 49 yards for a score, giving the Browns a 10-3 lead. The Pats'
defense responded with a dominating second quarter.
Couch was sacked twice on crucial third-down plays to end drives. Then, Terrell
Buckley intercepted a Couch pass when the Browns were threatening to score at
the Patriot 20. The interception set up another Vinatieri field goal and helped
the Pats to a 20-10 halftime lead.
The domination continued in the third quarter. Brady was intercepted again and
that gave the Browns the ball at the Patriot's 37-yard line. But Cleveland made
just one first down and had to settle for a field goal.
Cleveland was back in the red-zone at the start of the fourth quarter, thanks to
big pass completions to Jamel White and Kevin Johnson that gave the Browns a
first down at the four-yard line. But Couch couldn't complete two short passes
and the Browns kicked another field goal to cut New England's lead to 20-16.
Bruschi said that with the Pats clinging to that four-point lead, the defense
knew its job wasn't finished.
"With that four-point lead with about 9:24 to play, the defense was rallied up
in the huddle. We had to do something to help win this game," he said. "We
needed to do something to close the game."
That's just what the defense did when Couch, again under heavy pressure, threw
over the middle for Northcutt. Otis Smith crashed into Northcutt and the ball
squirted high in the air. Lineman Anthony Pleasant scooped up the ball, but,
while doing his best running-back imitation, let it slip out of his hands. Smith
jumped on the ball.
"I went for the hit and didn't see the ball," Smith said. "I saw (Pleasant)
running with the ball, and then he dropped it. He dropped it, he didn't throw it
That proved to be it for the Browns. A great pooch punt by Vinatieri pinned
Cleveland back to its one-yard line and Couch couldn't escape. The Patriots
followed up with a touchdown by Antowain Smith and New England had its fifth win
in the last six games in the bag.
"We've been answering. We've come up with big plays when we've needed them,"
said Bruschi. "Troy's (Brown) punt return for a touchdown kind of negated their
interception for a touchdown. Adam missed a couple of field goals and instead of
asking him to make another long one, we've practiced that (pooch) punt every
week and we executed it well."
With remaining games at Buffalo and at Carolina sandwiched around hosting Miami,
the Patriots are in great shape for the postseason. If they get there, the
defense might be the defining reason why.
"This defense is really evolving into something special," said safety Lawyer
Milloy, the leader of the Patriots' defensive hitters. "Lots of guys have the
same mentality. It's not one or two guys. We've got guys in the secondary,
linebackers and the defensive line all playing. I knew this group could keep
by Michael Felger
FOXBORO - For the better part of a month, the Patriots have not had the full
services of veteran middle linebackers Ted Johnson and Bryan Cox. Incredibly, it
hasn't affected the bottom line.
The Pats have Tedy Bruschi to thank for that.
Bruschi has been many things to the Patriots over his six-year career - special
teams stalwart, pass rushing specialist, weak-side linebacker in the 4-3 and
inside linebacker in the 3-4. Now Bruschi, who is slated to become an
unrestricted free agent after the season, is playing perhaps the best football
of his life in yet another role.
Bruschi is playing in the middle, or ``mike,'' in the Pats' new 4-3 alignment.
Some would say Bruschi's physical attributes are not ideally suited to the
position. The 6-foot-1, 245-pounder is not what coaches would consider a classic
middle linebacker. Then again, that's what people said when he played defensive
end in college, outside linebacker in the pros and everywhere else in between.
Bruschi has heard this assessment most of his career, and it sounds like he's
sick of it.
``I'm not a classic anything. I'm just a classic football player,'' Bruschi
said. ``I've always been characterized as not this or not that. Whatever, man.
Put me out there and I'm going to get it done no matter what.''
True enough. Bruschi is relentless in pursuit and good in coverage. He has an
excellent vertical leap and a constant motor. He's smart, instinctive and a sure
tackler. So what if Bruschi doesn't quite have the size of other middle
linebackers? So what if he isn't exactly dominant at the point of attack? All he
does is make plays.
That's certainly been the case the past four weeks, as Bruschi has recorded 27
tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and an interception. Johnson and Cox have been
returning to health of late and should be near 100 percent shortly. Given the
play of Bruschi and fellow linebacker Roman Phifer, however, Johnson and Cox may
find their opportunities limited.
Bruschi's timing is impeccable. Because of his versatility and production, the
Pats may have to dig deep into their pockets to retain his services. Bruschi
will let his play do the talking.
``I don't want to say I do this or I do that. I'm tired of saying that,''
Bruschi said. ``What I do is what I do. When they ask me to play inside, I'll do
that. And when they ask me to play outside, I'll do that.
``I'm not a classic middle linebacker. Coming out of college I wasn't a classic
outside linebacker. What is classic? Put me out there, I'm going to get it done.
That's all I have to say.''
for the improved play of the whole defense, Bruschi said the most important
factor has been the work of the four guys up front. While rookie defensive
tackle Richard Seymour continues to improve and make plays, veterans Bobby
Hamilton, Anthony Pleasant and Brandon Mitchell have also excelled.
``The job that they're doing, the pressure they're putting on quarterbacks and
the blocks that they're occupying is awesome,'' Bruschi said. ``That's what
you've got to have to be a successful defense to start with: the presence of the
Tedy Bruschi is the Patriots' do-it-all player
FOXBORO -- Finding an agent who wouldn't
want to represent Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi is about as hard as finding a
kid who doesn't like Christmas.
Right now there are few better clients around, given that Bruschi is slated to
become an unrestricted free agent after the season, and is having what many
experts consider the best football season of his life while playing a variety of
Let's just say as
paydays go, Bruschi is on target to receive a pretty hefty raise based on what
he's done on the field for the Pats over his six-year career. After all, the
price tag on a linebacker who continually makes plays to win games, performs
with relentless and infectious abandon, and succeeds no matter where the coach
puts him must be mighty high.
The question is, who's Tedy's guy? Who
gets to play contract ball with Bob Kraft, Andy Wasynczuk, Scott Pioli, Bill
Belichick et al? Who's the lucky representative who gets to shop Bruschi around
to the highest bidder, and reap some of the reward?
``You're looking at him,'' Bruschi
answered with a sheepish grin. ``I did it before with my other contract, and I
plan on doing it again this time.''
What he's really doing
is making it hard to keep track. Inside linebacker in the 3-4 formation. Outside
linebacker in the 4-3. Special teams kamikaze. Pass rushing maniac. AND agent
Not many athletes want
to be bothered with haggling over the numbers, and selling their statistics, but
Bruschi, much like former Bruins star Jason Allison, sounds game. Already, the
28-year-old fan favorite seems to have the agentspeak down cold. In fact, he
sounded a bit like Monty Hall the other day, giving his best ``Let's Make A
``The Patriots could
make it a lot easier on me if they would call me up there and say, `OK, let's
get it done before the season's over,' '' Bruschi said. ``That'd be the easiest
case scenario, and probably the best case scenario. But I don't know if that'll
Big enough for the job
Given the versatility
Bruschi exhibits, he would be an attractive catch for any team. He may be
undersized at 6-foot-1, 245 pounds, but he's a football player in the truest
sense of the word. He's the defensive unit's version of Troy Brown.
Said teammate Roman
Phifer: ``I always tell Tedy I like his style. He plays hard. He goes 100 miles
an hour every play. It's fun to play with a guy like that. He inspires other
people. He has the right attitude and approach to the game. I feed off of him.''
One would think the Pats would go the
extra mile to lock up such a dynamic player, but Bruschi has played the contract
game before -- he negotiated his last deal (a two-year pact reportedly worth
upwards of $3 million). He knows things sometimes have a funny way of working
myself the last three or four years, I've come to the conclusion anything can
happen,'' Bruschi said of negotiations. ``I want to say I want to be here, but I
don't know if I will be. I don't know if they'll want me back. They might not
want me back. Maybe they will, maybe they won't.
another side of the coin, especially what I've seen happen here this year with
Drew (Bledsoe). Anything can happen. There are no givens. Am I going to be here
next year? I don't know. We'll have to wait and see.''
Hitting the right note
In the meantime, he'll
just continue to make big plays, and play a fiery, inspirational brand of
football. And to think, he almost ended up being the next Clarence Clemons to
somebody's E Street Band.
Bruschi was a musician
long before he donned a set of shoulder pads. He plays a mean alto sax, and also
can toot a pretty fine clarinet. He won't dare perform for his teammates -- none
of them had any idea he played -- but Bruschi plays for himself and his family.
``I do it to pass the
time when I have some free time,'' Bruschi said. ``I'll just take my sax out of
the closet and play. Mostly, I just mess around. I'll play some songs I knew
when I was younger to help me relax, or I'll hear a song on the radio and play
Bruschi also sings. He
even admitted he was once in a boys choir. Knowing how he plays football, it's a
little hard to picture the musical side of such a hard hitter. And as teammate
Ted Johnson remarked last week, Bruschi was born to make tackles, not melodies.
``He's just a great
football player. It's what he was put on this earth to do,'' Johnson said.
``There are some guys who are meant to play this game, and some that aren't.
Tedy was definitely meant to play football. If you see him in street clothes,
your first guess might not be that he plays football, but if you turn on the
film, and you see him play, there's no question. He plays for the pure reasons
of playing, for the sport of it.''
A late starter
Bruschi actually came
to the game relatively late in life, not beginning to play in earnest until in
his mid-teens. That didn't matter. The sport came naturally. Like most kids, he
learned by playing tackle football in his backyard with the neighborhood kids.
``We had no pads,''
Bruschi recalled. ``We'd just put on a bunch of extra layers of clothes and
pretend we were playing tackle football with shoulder pads on. It was great. I
guess I just had a knack for it.''
But even Bruschi
sometimes has a hard time figuring out how he's able to summon up the energy and
force with which he plays. This season, he's looked more like a springboard
diver than a football player on occasion, doing somersaults and flips over
blockers to get at the quarterback or opposing ballcarrier.
``Sometimes I think I
have problems,'' Bruschi said with a smile, ``because I'm so different off the
field. I get home and just want to relax with my family. A great night for me is
having friends over, having a nice dinner and seeing a movie. Something that's
Bruschi is anything but
laid back on the field. He's a human wrecking ball, plowing through any and all
comers while in pursuit. That competitive drive allows him to play practically
any position. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in smarts and instinct
along with sheer will and determination.
Coming on strong
During the past four
weeks alone, Bruschi has notched 27 tackles, a sack, forced a fumble and made an
interception. In short, his nose for the ball seems like the fire burning in a
``It's just a battle I
have to win,'' Bruschi said when asked what he thinks about when he sees a
ballcarrier. ``Football is a game where you have to physically try to beat
another man -- another man that's trying to do the same thing to you.
``In some sports, your
goal is to put the ball through a hoop more times than the other guy. Our goal
is to stop someone carrying the ball, and there's 10 other guys in front of you
to get through. In my opinion, to do that, you have to physically defeat a man
in front of you, whether he's bigger, stronger or faster. You have to find a way
to get that done.''
He learned some of that
competitive philosophy by wrestling in the heavyweight division in school. He
also learned it by watching some of the elite athletes in other sports.
Bruschi was raised out
west, initially in San Francisco, then in Roseville, Calif., but his
appreciation of the Boston sports scene took shape long before he arrived in New
England in 1996 as a third-round draft pick (86th overall) out of Arizona.
Somehow, in the land of
the Lakers and Golden State Warriors, Bruschi became a rabid Celtics fan.
Following his older brother's lead, he got hooked on Larry Bird, Kevin McHale
and Robert Parish. He still spouts Jerry Sichting and Danny Ainge stats.
``That was a great time
in my life watching those teams,'' Bruschi said. ``And you know, when I first
came here, they had an offer. They were selling off bricks of the old Garden and
I bought one. I have it in my room.''
The three most
important elements in Bruschi's life, however, don't involve bricks or
basketballs. He lists ``faith, family and football'' in that order. His son,
Tedy Jr., who is pictured on the flip screen of Bruschi's cell phone, turns
1-year-old on Wednesday. He and his wife Heidi are expecting their second child
``Some of my friends
told me what fatherhood was going to be like, but I still never anticipated the
sense of love I get from my son and the feeling of family I have,'' Bruschi
said. ``You feel like you have a purpose in life, and what I feel I'm really
here to do is to be a good father to my son and make sure he turns out all
Between Tedy the
player, Tedy the agent and Tedy the musician, chances are the Bruschi children
are going to turn out just fine.
AGE -- 28.
HOMETOWN -- San Francisco.
HEIGHT -- 6-foot-1.
WEIGHT -- 245 pounds.
POSITION -- Linebacker.
COLLEGE -- Arizona.
NFL EXPERIENCE -- 6th year.
HOW ACQUIRED -- Drafted by the Pats
in the third round (86th overall) of the 1996 NFL Draft.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS -- College --
Tied Derrick Thomas' all-time NCAA Division 1-A record with 52 career
quarterback sacks for Arizona's "Desert Storm" defense. Professional --
Registered more than 100 tackles in each of the last two seasons (105, 139). ...
Sacked Brett Favre twice in the Pats loss to the Packers in Super Bowl XXXI.
For Patriots, oh, what a feeling.
FOXBORO, Mass. Talk about joys of the season.
"Those last 10 minutes out there on that field I won't forget them for the
rest of my life," Patriots' linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "I'll be telling
stories about it 20 years from now. They'll start with: `I remember when we were
playing the last game in Foxboro Stadium, playing Miami for first place in the
division . . .' "
And what wonderful stories those will be.
There'll be no need for Bruschi to embellish them. They won't be stories that
will improve with age, because they couldn't get any better than they are right
As for the end of those stories, it always will be a description of the victory
lap taken by Bruschi and all his teammates, along with the Patriots' coaching
staff going around the field, shaking and slapping hands with elated fans
leaning over the wall to touch their heroes.
It was one of the most memorable moments of the 31 seasons that the Patriots
have been playing in this most utilitarian of stadiums.
Instead of "Who Let The Dogs Out?" the rum-pum-pum-pum of "Little Drummer Boy"
was playing over the antiquated stadium's sound system as the Pats bounded
delightedly about the field like kids on Christmas morning.
"Oh, man, that was a great day!" coach Bill Belichick said.
Was it ever.
It was a day no one who was in the stadium that September afternoon that Drew
Bledsoe was leveled in the loss to the Jets ever could have envisioned.
Which was one reason that the AFC East standings, with the Patriots on top at
10-5, were displayed on the DiamondVision even after the final fan had filed
Happy as those fans were, none could have been more thrilled than Randy "Zip"
Pierce of Nashua, N.H., who not only left with the "Fan of the Year" award, but
also with a Gatorade bottle filled with turf and dirt that Bruschi gave him.
"He's been supporting me since my rookie year, back when I was just playing on
special teams and rushing the passer," Bruschi said.
At first, Pierce, who wears Bruschi's No. 54 jersey to every game, didn't know
what his favorite player had given him because he is visually impaired.
"The guys around him had to tell him what it was," Bruschi said. "There was just
so much emotion running through me. I didn't anticipate being as emotional as I
Bruschi and his defensive mates play with a great deal of emotion and
tenacity, intensity, and intelligence, as well.
They had racked up a string of 14 consecutive quarters without giving up a
touchdown, going back to the first quarter of the comeback win over the Jets at
the Meadowlands, before yielding a scoring pass of 10 yards from Jay Fielder to
Jeff Ogden with 1:28 remaining.
"I can't say enough about the defense causing those turnovers," Belichick said.
The New England defense forced three turnovers the most important coming midway
through the fourth quarter when the Dolphins, in a 4th-and-7 situation at the
Pats' 10-yard line, completed a pass to running back Lamar Smith at the 3.
But Smith didn't hang on to the ball for long, coughing it up when free safety
Tebucky Jones leveled him with a jarring hit. Linebacker Roman Phifer recovered
at the 2.
It was the second fumble caused by Jones, who in the first quarter had knocked
the ball loose from tight end Jed Weaver after a 19-yard gain to the N.E. 48.
"If I can make a big hit," Jones said, "hopefully, they'll drop the ball. Today,
they were dropping it."
In addition to the turnovers, the New England defense also had a key stop in the
third quarter, stuffing Smith on 4th-and-1 at the Pats' 21.
"The key," cornerback Ty Law said, "is playing together. It's reminiscent of
1996 (when the Patriots went to the Super Bowl.) We're playing with confidence,
supporting each other, and having fun."
The Patriots are off next weekend, and Bruschi says the "bye" week couldn't have
come at a better time.
"I'm glad," he said, "that we have a week to enjoy what happened out there.
"I won't be here for the last game at CMGi Field," Bruschi added with a smile.
"I'm glad I was here for this one."
TEAM'S POSTGAME CELEBRATION WAS FAN-TASTIC
Boston Globe - Sunday, December 23, 2001
By: Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff
FOXBOROUGH - The Patriots' 237th and final regular-season home game at
Foxboro Stadium ended with a nice touch by the players, who took a victory lap
and shook hands with, waved to, and blew kisses to fans.
Some players, such as linebacker Tedy Bruschi and defensive end Bobby
Hamilton, even went into the stands to acknowledge the fans.
Willie McGinest was moved by the scene at the end of the stadium's final
regular-season game. "It was our way of showing how much we appreciate our
support from the fans over the years," said the defensive end. "These fans have
been with us through thick and thin. They deserve to get the chance to meet us
up close like that, and we're happy to be able to thank them."
Bruschi made a special gesture for the Patriots' Fan of the Year, Randy
Pierce of Nashua, N.H. While the other players were taking their lap around the
field, Bruschi scooped up a cup of dirt from midfield and brought it to Pierce.
Cornerback Ty Law and wide receiver Troy Brown took their laps, then ran to
midfield and bowed to and applauded the fans.
Said coach Bill Belichick, who did a similar lap at the Cleveland
Stadium finale in 1995, "I'm a veteran at closing stadiums down. The fans have
been great all year, so supportive and enthusiastic."
Belichick was once again overcome by emotion at game's end, hugging and
patting his players as they left the field.
"I'm really thrilled for our football team," said the coach. "Each week
somebody steps up and makes plays to help us win the game. We've done what we
could do the last five games, and we need to do it one more week."
Bruschi ĎMr. Versatilityí
Linebacker does it
all for Pats
B~ PAUL TEVES
FOXBORO ó Just call
him Mr. Versatility; but in the New England locker room. he is simply known as
The Patriots outside linebacker, Tedy Bruschi,
has played every position a defensive player could play on the defensive line
and at the linebacker positions when asked to do so.
The last two Sundays, Bruschi was asked to move
from his normal outside linebacker position to middle linebacker due to
injuries to everyday middle linebackers Ted Johnson and Bryan Cox -- who could both return as early
as this Sunday for the Jets game.
Bruschi has been solid in the middle the last two
weeks, collecting 12 tackles, while also intercepting a Kurt Warner pass in
last weekís 24.17 loss to St. Louis.
"Iíve been the man in the middle the last couple
of weeks with the guys being down and itís something that I hadnít done in the
past, but as a NFL football player you never know whatís going to happen,"
said Bruschi. "There are going to be certain weeks where you have to adjust
your style of game to fit, for the defense to stop an offense and help your
squad win. And thatís what Iíve been doing for the last couple of weeks.
"Maybe we get one or both of them back this week,
but if I had to do the same thing again, Iím prepared to do it."
Bruschiís move to the middle has not been as
difficult as one might think, having already played several positions in the
front seven for New England since being drafted by the Patriots with the 86th
overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft.
"Going to the middle just makes you more of a
tackle to tackle guy;" said Bruschi "Youíre inside taking on fullbacks and
taking on guards, before I had been more of a scrape guy, running around and
having to mix it up in there once and a while, but not as consistently as I do
now. I just had to mentally change my attitude towards defense by being more
Patriots coach Bill Belichick had nothing but
praise for the six-year veteran following the Patriots 34-17 win this week
over the New Orleans Saints, "I think Tedy Bruschi is a llttle bit of an
unsung guy (tonight)," said Belichick of Bruschiís play against the Saints.
"The last couple of weeks he stepped in there for Ted and Bryan and really
played well in the middle both in the run and pass, and he made a couple of
plays last week. I think
he has done a nice job."
Bruschiís play helped the defense hold
the Saintsí Ricky Williams to just 56 yards on 15 carries. Three of his
tackles stopped Williams for runs of fewer than three yards.
Bruschiís strengthís at the NFL level is playing
the outside position, but he has adjusted his game to play in the middle.
"I am not going to run over guys in there like
Ted does," said Bruschi, "Tedís the physical presence in there, Iíll
use my angles, my balance, my quickness, but basically Iíll do what I have to
do within the confines of my physical ability."
Bruschi, who p1ayed defensive end at Arizona, has
played several positions including defensive end and defensive tackle. His
versatility has proven to be one of his biggest additions to the team over the
"I can honestly say I have played almost every
position along the front seven, so I donít just look at my position. I look at
every single spot and what those guys have to do, because a lot of times we
have to direct traffic in
there," said Bruschi. "I am the type of guy that when something is put before
me, I am going to accept the challenge and get the job done. Tell me what to
do and I will find a way to get it done.
Johnson, Cox and Bruschi have yet to spend much
time on the field together and each player has filled in well when the others
were out. The trio has only been together for a total of four of the Patriots
"We are a three-man rotation and thatís what I
tried to tell you when I first got here," said Cox, who might return from his
lower-leg fracture this week. "Tedy and Ted have done a really good job, but
we have complemented each other throughout, When Tedy was out, me and Ted held
it down, and then when Ted got hurt, me and Tedy held it down and now I am
hurt and Tedy held it down. We have gotten help from all over the place, with
Mike Vrabel and Roman Phifer. Our unit is very versatile and we have been able
to make up for some injuries."
While Bruschi has yet to play in the defensive
backfield, he has taken tips from teammate Lawyer Milloy in terms of pass
"We have had some calls where the linebacker has
had to drop 16 yards deep and look at the end cut, so myself and Ted have had
to do that," said Bruschi jokingly; "So I have been back there chatting with
Lawyer about coverages every once in a while."
Bruschi's game in any situation
Friday, January 4, 2002
By CHRIS KENNEDY
Tedy Bruschi has been seeing the bulk of the time at middle linebacker of late,
but New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said part of the reason for that
has to do with how a game unfolds.
Fellow inside linebackers Ted Johnson (knee) and Bryan Cox (leg) have been ready
to go for a few weeks now after battling injuries in November.
their absence, New England played more with three linebackers rather than four,
and Bruschi has played superbly filling the middle linebacker spot. The Patriots
have stuck mostly with a 4-3, even with Johnson and Cox back.
Belichick said Bruschi played more in a 20-13 victory over Miami Dec. 22 because
the Dolphins were trailing and needed to throw the ball. The coach said Bruschi
is much more involved in situational defenses such as those that require extra
defenders in pass coverage.
"Had it been a normal game, they would have played more," Belichick said. "If
this (Carolina game Sunday) is a normal game, I think they will play more. If it
becomes a running game and field position game, then I am sure they will play
least of late, however, Bruschi has been the one the Patriots have been
depending on the most.
Cox recently told the Boston Globe that he would not be complaining about his
lack of playing time. The linebacker said he responded to Belichick's choice of
Tom Brady over Drew Bledsoe to finish out the season by preaching that whatever
the coach says goes. He said he would not be a leader if he said anything else
Bruschi recovering from head injury
ESPN.com 01/09/02 The Patriots said the injury to the head of linebacker Tedy
Bruschi suffered during Sunday's 38-6 win over Carolina is not considered
serious. As a precautionary measure, Bruschi did not return to the game after
leaving in the first half. Bruschi reported feeling fine after the game, but
admitted to the Boston Herald that he played five minutes of the first half
without knowing he was out there. Bruschi made a sideline hit on Brad Hoover
late in the second quarter, "and from that point I started feeling woozy,"
Bruschi told the Boston Globe. "I tried to shake it off. I was groggy, but I
wanted to go back in there. But the doctor told me I'd been out too long and I
was too confused."
Different role for Bruschi
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 01/12/02
FOXBORO -- When the Patriots went to the Super Bowl in 1996, Tedy Bruschi was
a seldom-used rookie.
Now he's the heart and soul of a Patriots defense that has allowed more than
17 points only once in a game since November.
When Bruschi came into the league from Arizona, where he had an NCAA
record-tying 52 career sacks, he was a situational player. He played in every
game his rookie season, but his primary duties were on special teams.
Bruschi's role has expanded since coach Bill Belichick took over last season.
The 28-year-old has finally gotten used to playing linebacker after playing
four seasons at defensive end in college.
"I can finally look at people and tell them I'm a linebacker without
laughing," he said. "It wasn't until my third year that I became comfortable."
Bruschi has started 45 games over the last three years and has averaged 95
tackles per season. But even though his playing time has increased
significantly, the fiery California native hasn't been happy -- watching the
playoffs on television the past two seasons isn't his cup of tea.
"To me, we're back where we belong," he said. "When I first came here, we went
to the playoffs three straight years. It was hard those two years we didn't go
-- even though I had a much bigger role."
Bruschi was almost filling that role somewhere else. He was extremely close to
leaving New England for Green Bay or Seattle before last season before signing
a two-year deal to remain with the Patriots.
"That kid is a football player," Belichick said of Bruschi earlier this
season. "He plays on regular downs. He plays on passing downs. He's on the
punt team and he's on the field-goal block team. He'd probably play on
offense, if we needed him."
Bruschi will be ready to go next Saturday in the second round of the playoffs
despite having to sit out the second half against Carolina in the final game
of the regular season.
"I just got my bell rung when I hit someone in the first quarter," he said. "I
was out of it for a while and the team doctor decided to hold me out. It was a
good call. I feel fine now."
Bruschi practiced in full pads on Thursday afternoon and is ready to take his
usual spot in the middle of New England's defense. Although he's not a
household name throughout the league, Bruschi is slowly starting to earn the
respect of teammates and opponents for his relentless style of play.
"He's real fast and does a great job of running and quarterbacking the
defense," said Patriots veteran linebacker Bryan Cox. "I was very surprised at
how versatile he was when I got here. He can play anywhere and is able to do
it all. You don't find that very often and you've got to have that for your
team to be successful."
Bruschi's signing helps keep defense
ESPN.com January 16, 2002
The New England Patriots have retained one
of their key defenders.
ESPN.com has confirmed the team has kept
linebacker Tedy Bruschi off the free agent
market, signing him to a new three-year contract extension worth $4.6
A complete breakdown of the contract was
not yet available, but Bruschi is expected to
receive a signing bonus of $2 million. Without the extension,
Bruschi would have been eligible to become an
unrestricted free agent this spring.
28, is a key member of a New England defense that carried the team to its first
AFC East championship since 1997. He played much of the year out of position, at
middle linebacker, and performed well there, notching 73 tackles in 15
appearances and 10 starts. He also added a pair of sacks, two interceptions,
three forced fumbles and three passes defensed.
At just 6-1 and 245 pounds, some skeptics
doubted Bruschi could handle the pounding in
the middle as he replaced run-stuffer Ted Johnson, but he held up well.
The former University of Arizona standout
has played his entire six-year career with the Patriots, joining the team as a
third-round choice in the 1986 draft.
For his career,
Bruschi has appeared in 93 games and started 48 of them. He has 401
tackles, 15 sacks, three interceptions and 21 passes defensed.
Bruschi was used primarily as a "nickel"
player early in his career, but moved into the starting lineup in 1999.
had 100-plus tackles in both 1999 and 2000.
FOOTBALL: PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK; Bruschi
signs on for three more
Thursday, January 17, 2002
By Michael Felger
FOXBORO - The AFC divisional playoff game against the Oakland Raiders
Saturday night at Foxboro Stadium could have been the final game in a Patriots
uniform for veteran linebacker Tedy Bruschi.
Instead, it will mark the beginning of a new
The Pats signed Bruschi, who was slated to become an unrestricted free agent
after the season, to a three-year contract extension worth $4.6 million
yesterday. The deal includes a $2 million signing bonus.
Bruschi has been a crucial piece of the Pats defense this year, as the
sixth-year veteran took over as the starting middle linebacker in Week 10 after
injuries to Ted Johnson and Bryan Cox. Thanks to Bruschi's playmaking, the Pats
were able to make a seamless transition from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-3.
Bruschi finished the year with 73 tackles, third on
Bruschi negotiated the deal on his own and did not employ an agent.
While Bruschi's future is clear, the same cannot be said for the rest of the
linebacking corps. Cox and fellow veteran Roman Phifer are on one-year deals and
slated to become unrestricted free agents.
Meanwhile, Johnson ($6.5 million) and Willie McGinest ($8.3 million) have
big cap numbers next year and could be candidates for release or the expansion
draft. Decisions on both players will likely be made before March 1, when each
has a $1 million roster bonus due.
Good news for Bruschi, Brown.
January 17, 2002
FOXBORO, Mass. _ Tedy Bruschi and Troy Brown came in for considerable ribbing
from their teammates on Thursday, but neither was complaining. They were
celebrating good news.
For Bruschi, it was a new contract. For Brown, it was being named to the Pro
Bruschi, who could have been a free agent at the end of the season, confirmed
that he had agreed to a new contract, reportedly for $4.6 million over the next
three years, including a $2 million signing bonus.
"It's nice to be with a team consistently. You don't really see a guy in the NFL
that sticks with a team for a long enough time. I really wanted to do that,"
Bruschi said. "I wanted to stay with the Patriots and be known, when I'm done,
as just a Patriot."
As he had done with his previous contract, Bruschi did not use an agent and
handled negotiations himself. The talks began about two weeks ago, he reported.
"Bill (Belichick) just came up to me and said, `Tedy, why don't you go up (to
the front office) and let's see if we could get it done.' I went up there off
and on over the last two byes weeks and we got it done."
Bruschi told team officials that the deal would have to get done relatively
"I had told them there was a certain point in time where, if it's not done by
this point, I don't want to get it done because I don't want it on my mind. The
playoffs are coming up. They understood that," Bruschi said. "I've negotiated
the last two contracts on my own. They've always dealt with me professionally.
They understood what I was saying. They also didn't want it to be weighing on my
mind. So we got it done."
The agreement was reached last Friday. Minor details were ironed out earlier
"I chose to do it myself because I can separate the two. I can separate the
front office from the playing field," Bruschi said. It's not a job he wants to
do for others.
It was his lack of faith in agents that led him to represent himself.
"I really don't like the type of people some of them are, to tell you the
truth," he said.
The six-year veteran from Arizona had considerable negotiating power since he
has had three straight strong seasons. He is third on the team in tackles this
season after moving in as the key middle linebacker when fellow linebackers
Bryan Cox and Ted Johnson were injured.
FOOTBALL: PATS PLAYOFF PREVIEW; It's
happening all over once again
Thursday, January 17, 2002
FOXBORO - Tedy Bruschi looks around the Patriots locker room and doesn't see a
lot of faces from the 1996 team that surprised people by winning the AFC East
and getting to the Super Bowl.
In fact, counting himself, there are only nine players on this roster
(excluding Terry Glenn) who were with the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. Of them,
only five - Bruschi, at inside linebacker, wide receiver Troy Brown,, safety
Lawyer Milloy and cornerbacks Ty Law and Otis Smith - are starting. Quarterback
Drew Bledsoe, linebacker Ted Johnson and linebacker/defensive end Willie
McGinest are backups. Chris Sullivan has spent his return time in Foxboro on the
But familiar faces are only part of the story. The attitude of the players
who are here and their performance level has brought on a feeling of deja vu.
"There are times when I shake my head, saying, 'Man, this has all happened
before,' " Bruschi said. "There are some familiar faces and there's the timing
of some of the wins and how we got the bye week. There are similarities. Both
teams lost the first two games but then came back and made a run."
Like this team, the 1996 club was 3-3 after six games. This team won six
straight and eight of its last nine. The 1996 team won 7-of-8 during one stretch
late in the year, offsetting the sluggish start.
That team started the playoffs as the AFC's second seed but wound up hosting
two playoff games because the Jaguars went to Denver and knocked off the
top-seeded Broncos in the divisional round while the Pats were dominating the
Steelers, 28-3. The Pats got to stay home to host Jacksonville for the AFC
championship, winning, 20-6.
This team is also the second seed and can qualify for two home games if it
beats the Raiders on Saturday night and the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens
knock off the top-seeded Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Both teams also
brought in a familiar defensive guru from Cleveland.
In 1996, Bill Belichick, who spent five years as the Browns' head coach, was
fired when the team moved to Baltimore. Belichick, who had spent years with Bill
Parcells in New York on the Giants staff, reunited with Parcells as the Pats
assistant head coach in '96, installing his defense.
Belichick, though, doesn't think any comparisons are accurate.
"In the end, other than the color of the uniform, there are so few
similarities between the two teams," he said. "To me it's really a stretch of a
comparison. Even the players who were on that team, it was so long ago, they're
at a different point in their careers. So much has changed and so many of the
players are gone that it's hard for me to make a good comparison between the
This time the role of Belichick is played by Romeo Crennel, another
assistant on the 1996 Pats. Crennel had been with both Belichick and Parcells
with the Giants, Pats and Jets but moved on to Cleveland in 1999 and 2000 to be
Chris Palmer's defensive coordinator. After that coaching staff was fired a year
ago, Crennel came back to the Patriots, this time as Belichick's defensive
"This is a very similar situation to 1996," Crennel said. "I think that team
had a little more confidence because the team had been together longer. This
team hadn't come together before this year and had to gain confidence and trust
in one another. That's developed as the year's gone on."
That's what has struck Sullivan since returning to the Pats as a free agent
a month ago. He was a rookie in 1996, playing in all 16 games. Even though he's
been with this team for only three games, he feels this group has something
going for it.
"This team is so focused and there's a lot of camaraderie," Sullivan said.
"Guys enjoy practicing. You can tell there's a feeling that these guys have that
they just can't lose when they're out there. That's
something that develops over the course of the year. When something bad happens,
the players don't get down in the dumps. They expect something good to happen.
That's the kind of thing that makes everybody play harder."
Charlie Weis, the current offensive coordinator, was a Pats assistant from
In 1994 we were also coming off a 5-11 season," he said. "That 1994 team
learned how to win as the season went on. The only problem back then was that
the team was satisfied just to have made the playoffs after having to win seven
straight to (finish 10-6 and) get in.
"I don't believe this team will be
satisfied ending at that point."
In 1996, Milloy was the rookie who provided a spark to the defense. This
year it's Richard Seymour.
"There are ironies here," Milloy said. "The Super Bowl will be played in New
Orleans again and the Packers are still in the playoffs. One difference I want
to see between this team and the 1996 group is one more win. That team got to
the Super Bowl. I want this team to win the Super Bowl."
SUPER BOWL XXXVI; Bruschi relishes his
Thursday, January 31, 2002
NEW ORLEANS - Tedy Bruschi is the poster child for the Patriots.
"You're looking at a guy who's been an underdog his whole life. I'm used to
the role. I'm comfortable with the role, and there are a lot of guys who are
also comfortable with the role," said Bruschi, who has steadily established
himself as a solid NFL linebacker despite being undersized at 6-foot-1, 245
The sixth-year veteran won't let the oddsmakers make him hang his head while
considering his team's chances against the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
The Pats are considered double-digit underdogs as they prepare to play the NFC
"You could look at it as a little lack of respect," said Bruschi.
"We're past that now. We're the best team in the AFC, everybody knows that.
We passed the two supposed best teams in the AFC to get here, and here we are. "Underdog? We'll take it, if that's the way we're labeled, but sometimes the
underdogs win it all."
Yet, the Patriots have a history as the underdog in Super Bowls played at
the Superdome. They were dominated by the Chicago Bears, 46-10, in Super Bowl XX
in 1986 and fell to the Green Bay Packers, 35-21, in Super Bowl XXXI in 1997.
Bruschi, one of only a handful of current Patriots to play in the loss to the
Packers, expects to have much more to offer this time around.
"The last time I was here I was a third-down guy - situational rushing the
passer," said Bruschi, who was a rookie when he made his initial Super Bowl
appearance. "I got to (Green Bay quarterback Brett) Favre a couple of times in
the game. I also played on special teams. Now I'm a starting linebacker for the
defense. So from 1996, I've sort of evolved as a player step by step each year.
Now I can call myself a regular contributor, down to down."
The Patriots lost to the Rams, 24-17, in the regular season, on Nov. 18 at
Foxboro Stadium, keeping it close despite allowing Kurt Warner to pass for 401
yards and three touchdowns.
"At times they can be unstoppable, that's what I learned," said Bruschi. "We
were down seven points in the fourth quarter, and we were telling ourselves,
'We've just got to get a three-and-out and give it back to our offense and see
what they could do with it to try to tie the game.' We couldn't do it. They gave
the ball to Marshall (Faulk) and converted on third down after third down, and
all of a sudden they were able to kneel down and run out the clock.
"Sometimes they are unstoppable."
Although St. Louis is heavily favored to win its second Super Bowl in three
years, Bruschi doesn't expect the Rams to take the Pats lightly.
"We've played the Rams before, and we know by the way we were playing on the
field and how they were reacting on the field that these are two teams that
respect each other," said Bruschi, who signed a three-year contract extension
earlier this month. "I'm a bottom-line type of guy, and the bottom line is we're
the two best teams in the NFL. We know that, and the Rams know that."
Bruschi expects the defense to be the key to victory.
"I try to break the biggest games of my career into the simplest form," said
Bruschi. "It's like we've done a million times, shedding blocks, making tackles,
forcing turnovers, making interceptions, and hopefully making touchdowns on
defense. That's what it's all about, and that's what it's going to take to be
Bruschi a true blue Patriot
Thursday, January 31, 2002
By Bill Burt
Eagle-Tribune Executive Sports Editor
NEW ORLEANS -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick throws
compliments around like most people throw sewer covers.
Patriots linebacker Bryan Cox said he went
six months, an entire NFL season, with the New York Jets before Belichick, then
the defensive coordinator, told him he was very happy with Cox's performance.
Associated Press Tedy Bruschi is
often the man in the middle of the Patriots defense.
"I thought he didn't like me," smiled Cox.
So when Belichick called his linebacker
Tedy Bruschi the "Troy Brown of our defense,"
well, it doesn't get any better than that.
Nothing more had to be said. That means
that Bruschi is a winner. That he's not too
big for his britches (despite signing a new multi-million dollar extension) to
try and block a punt or tackle a kick returner.
It also means when a play needs to be made
on defense, you can usually count on the University of Arizona graduate to make
The third-and-1 with 2:13 to go in the
Snow Bowl versus Oakland? Bruschi laid into
fullback Zack Crockett, stopping him cold, setting up the heroics with
quarterback Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri.
There were other notable third-and-1s for
Bruschi and the Patriots.
nailed Atlanta's Maurice Smith on a third-and-1 inside the 20. He and Roman
Phifer combined to level Miami's Lamar Smith on a big third-and-1. And don't
forget Bruschi and Cox clocking Jets running
back Curtis Martin on a third-and-goal from the 2, forcing a field goal.
"He's a very smart and instinctive
player," said Belichick. "He has a very good feel for the game, both in running
and passing. As a blitzer he knows where the ball is. He knows where to hit on
plays. We ask him to do a lot and he is prepared."
Because of injuries,
Bruschi, an outside linebacker by trade, has
been asked to play in the middle a lot, which could be considered dangerous,
because of his size, 6-foot-1, 240 pounds.
On Sunday, he'll play both inside and out
because of his ability to cover receivers, primarily running backs.
"In this defense, it doesn't matter," said
Bruschi. "We use a lot of guys. We move guys
around. I just want to be out there, that's all."
is a rare breed. He has played for three coaches in New England -- Bill Parcells,
Pete Carroll and Belichick, all polar opposites -- who couldn't agree on brands
of bottled water or paper towels never mind football philosophies.
But Parcells, Carroll and Belichick agreed
at least on one thing. The undersized Bruschi
was one of "their" guys.
Which means that even in the worst of
times, they could count on the undersized linebacker to be there fighting,
clawing and championing their cause to the end.
It also means that
Bruschi epitomizes the term "professional."
And it doesn't matter who is blowing the whistle at practice because
Bruschi is coming to play.
"I have extreme loyalty to the
organization and whoever they have coach the team is the guy I believe in," said
Bruschi. "You have to, as a player, commit to
the coach you have. If you don't believe in him and his system, you won't
succeed. It's that simple."
The 96th player taken in the 1996 NFL
Draft, Bruschi is a different player than the
rookie who came in on pass rushing downs (he is tied for first as the NCAA's
Div. 1-A all-time sack leader with 52). And now it is his duty to figure out
what opposing offenses are doing and make the proper formation calls.
Another difference is that while the Green
Bay Packers, the Patriots' opposition in Super Bowl XXI, had a great offense,
this Rams offense, which averaged an amazing 31.4 points per game, is probably
the best ever.
"It really is amazing to watch," said
Bruschi. "It's like a track meet. You have to
be prepared to run a lot because of their speed. Their quarterback, Kurt Warner,
is the coolest quarterback I've ever seen in the pocket. And, in my opinion,
they have the best back in the game in Marshall Faulk. Man, we have a tough job
has grown up off the field since his last Super Bowl visit to New Orleans. He is
now married (Heidi) with a son,
He also isn't afraid to vent publicly. And
he had some unfinished venting to do relating to his former coach, Bill Parcells.
"In looking back at it now, it was a
little selfish on his part, throwing the story out (that he was leaving the
Patriots after the Super Bowl)," said Bruschi.
"I wake up the day of the game and see this big headline, 'Parcells is leaving.'
Not to have a team meeting to address it, that in my mind is selfish."
Which fast-forwards him to this Super Bowl
and coach Belichick.
"There isn't a coach in the NFL that had
to deal with the adversity Bill (Belichick) had to deal with," said
"There was (quarterback coach) Dick
Rehbein's death (in July). There were injuries. There was Sept. 11. There was
the quarterback controversy, and we can't forget, Terry Glenn. Think about it.
He got us through all of those things. That's incredible."
The next and last adversity is figuring
out the Rams, especially on offense. Belichick may be smart, but it isn't going
to happen without a lot of help from Bruschi.
Pats are all
business in Big Easy
By Christine Stewart
NEW ORLEANS (Feb. 1, 2002) -- The way the
New England Patriots see it, the party can wait.
Simply put, the Patriots refuse to get
caught up in all the excitement and hoopla accompanying Super Bowl XXXVI in New
Orleans. And from the sounds of it, they're doing a good job.
"This is a business trip for us,"
center Damien Woody said. "We don't have time to be running around and be in the
streets all the time. That's not why we're here; we're here to win a
championship. And the guys are really focused on that."
Many teams often look to veterans to coach
younger players in situations such as these. But when it comes to staring down
the bright lights shining in the Big Easy this week, some of the Patriots' more
established players are simply letting their actions do the talking.
"I haven't gone out of my way to talk to
the young guys and tell them what to expect or anything," said linebacker
Bruschi, who was a rookie in New England's Super Bowl XXXI loss to Green
Bay. "If the rookies or second-year players ask questions, I'll answer them. But
they see how we as veterans conduct ourselves. They see how I act, see the way
Lawyer (Milloy) acts, and Ty (Law)."
Several players on New England's roster
have Super Bowl experience, nine of whom were on the 1996 squad. However, even
those who are playing in the big game for the first time sound like they've been
"We're here for a reason, and that's to
win a Super Bowl," said linebacker Roman Phifer, an 11-year veteran who played
for the Rams for eight years and is in his first season with the Patriots. "The
parties and festivities are nice, but we've got to keep that to a minimum and
keep everyone focused on the task at hand."
Anyone familiar with New Orleans is well
aware it's a city that knows how to throw a party. Whether on Bourbon Street or
at one of the various Super Bowl shindigs taking place this week, there are a
multitude of potential distractions for anyone, let alone football players
preparing to play in the biggest game of their lives.
"We [the veterans] are trying to lead by
example," cornerback Terrell Buckley said. "If you practice and do the things
you're supposed to, you're not going to have time for those other things. We're
down here to win. We have one more game ... the Super Bowl. We have a great
challenge ahead of us. We can enjoy things next week. Let's work, take care of
our business, fulfill our obligations and go out and compete on Sunday."
But it's Super Bowl Week. Can it really be
all work and no play?
"Certain days, you are here to enjoy
yourself. Other days, you are here to take care of business,"
Bruschi said. "I think they [the younger players]
see how we practice, how serious we are at meetings, asking questions and really
paying attention. They can see this is really serious."
Besides, the Pats would love nothing more
than to plan a party of their own on Sunday -- the surprise variety.
for dirty game: Says pristine Superdome favors Rams
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 1, 2002
NEW ORLEANS - It is possible to get down,
but not necessarily dirty, when playing football on a carpet with a roof over
That's not Tedy
Bruschi's style, nor that of his AFC champion New England Patriots
defensive teammates, Bruschi said.
OLB, 6 feet 1, 245 pounds
tackler on team)
the anchor of the "Desert Swarm" defenses in the early 1990s at the University
of Arizona, is wary of conditions that he says favor the NFC champion St. Louis
Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI on Sunday.
"Hey, they're The Greatest Show of Turf,"
Bruschi said. "They deserve all the props
they've gotten. The Rams have been the most dominant team all year. They were
built to play in these conditions. They were fast on grass when we lost to them
at home (24-17 on Nov. 18), and they'll be even faster here on this."
said he wishes he could "cut the roof off this place (Louisiana Superdome), grow
some grass, and let it rain so we could play in the mud Sunday. That's more the
type of team we are."
was a down lineman for the Wildcats. Now, although listed as an outside
linebacker, he is really "whatever they want me to be." He has lined up at
defensive tackle, end and linebacker.
"Everywhere," he said. "I guess what I am
is a football player."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a
defensive-minded sort whose unit bears his firm imprint, agrees with
"He's kind of the Troy Brown of defense,
just a real good football player," Belichick said. "He does a lot of things well
no matter what we ask him to do. As a blitzer, he knows where the ball is. He
knows where to hit on plays. He plays well for us in the kicking game on the
punt team and on the kickoff-return team. We ask him to do a lot. He's smart and
a very instinctive player."
played in 15 games, starting nine at linebacker. He produced 73 tackles, two
sacks, two interceptions and forced three fumbles. The strength of the defensive
support gave young quarterback Tom Brady the cushion to have a storybook season.
"We really had a lot of guys contribute,"
Bruschi said. "It seems like a new guy got a
game ball every week."
got away with playing on the defensive line at 6-foot-1 and 246 pounds at
Arizona, where he tied the NCAA record with 52 sacks. He was projected as a
linebacker when he became a first-day draft pick in the third round in 1996,
He's been here before.
Bruschi sacked Brett Favre twice in a Super
Bowl loss to the Packers in the Superdome five years ago.
"I felt so empty when we lost the Super
Bowl (35-21)," Bruschi said. "Green Bay didn't
have the power at that point that the Rams have now. We played hard. It was the
same thing when we played St. Louis this year. When we had to get a stop we
couldn't. We're down seven; if we get a stop we have a chance to tie, and then
it was the Marshall Faulk show. If we don't get any third-down stops Sunday,
it's going to be a long night."
SUPER BOWL XXXVI; On surface, Pats
brace for turf war
Friday, February 1, 2002
NEW ORLEANS -- Having already clashed with the St. Louis Rams during the regular
season, Tedy Bruschi admits the Patriots have a certain level of comfort while
preparing to defend against the NFC champions' potent offensive attack in
Sunday's Super Bowl.
The Pats' sixth-year linebacker, however, does concede that no matter how
familiar the defense may be with the Kurt Warner-led Rams offense, the AFC
champions are bound to have a level of discomfort at the Superdome during the
opening minutes of Super Bowl XXXVI.
"There's still going to be another gear we're going to have to get used to
with their speed because we're on (artificial) turf," Bruschi said. "I think we
were in Foxboro on a damp night, and the turf wasn't as tight as the Superdome's
turf is going to be. We were on grass, of course, so we're going to need a
couple of plays, maybe a series, to get used to their speed again."
The Patriots can't let the Rams run too wild while trying to catch up with
their speed, Bruschi said.
"I think every team is at a disadvantage going against those guys - the
Torry Holts, the Isaac Bruces, the Marshall Faulks. They're the quickest team in
the league," Bruschi said. "It takes a little while to adjust to that speed, and
hopefully by the time you adjust to it, you're not down 14-0."
Holt, one half of the Rams' speedy wide receiver tandem with Bruce, won't
complain about playing in the Superdome, but the Rams' first-round draft choice
in 1999 isn't counting on turf to play a vital role in Super Bowl XXXVI.
"It helps us being on our surface that we usually play on. It helps a lot.
We're comfortable, but I don't know if it's going to be that much of a
difference because this is a championship game," said Holt, who set a rookie
record of seven receptions in the Rams' victory in Super Bowl XXXIV. "You can't
worry that much about the surface you're playing on. You have to put on your
seven-studs or put on your track shoes and come out and play."
The Patriots have had limited experience on turf, but coach Bill Belichick
isn't sure that will be a disadvantage Sunday.
"We haven't really played a lot of games on turf this year and we've had
minimal practices on turf. Our only indoor turf game was in Indianapolis," said
Belichick, whose team crushed the Colts, 44-13, at RCA Dome to win its first
game of the season after an 0-2 start. "I think (the Rams) are definitely
faster, quicker (on turf). I think all athletes are. From our historical studies
on college timings, for example, with different tests on turf vs. grass, there
is a difference between grass times and turf times."
The Rams won't be the only players running faster Sunday, Belichick said.
"I think it's relative for all players. Our players would test better on
turf, just like St. Louis' would. In the end, it probably all equals out except
that St. Louis has a lot more experience with turf than we do from all the
practices and games they've played on it," he said. "They are very quick and
extremely fast, and they are a little faster on turf."
While pointing out that some of his teammates aren't exactly slow, Pats
cornerback Terrance Shaw maintained that the turf of the Superdome might not be
that much of a departure.
"The grass we've been playing on late in the season has been hard. We've
been playing on icy fields that were as hard as turf," Shaw said.
Bruschi rides through Pats'
By Skip Wood,
USA TODAY 02/01/02
NEW ORLEANS ó Tedy Bruschi is a crowd
favorite in New England because of his all-over-the-field play and, yes, the
fact that his last name is pronounced "brewski." He's a coaches' favorite
because no matter what you ask him to do, he does it unflinchingly and
usually unfailingly. Bruschi, though, doesn't play favorites. Never has,
never will. That's a big reason the Patriots' sixth-year linebacker ó whose
team meets St. Louis on Sunday in Super Bowl XXXVI ó believes he has been
able to almost seamlessly adjust to three different head coaches since being
drafted out of Arizona in 1996.
There was Bill Parcells for a season,
Pete Carroll for three and now Bill Belichick.
"I think one of the key things with me
is I have no extreme loyalties to anyone," Bruschi says. "I never had any
extreme loyalty to Parcells, Pete Carroll ó and I wouldn't say I'm pouring
myself into this for Bill Belichick."
Not that he isn't behind Belichick
all the way.
Bruschi, in fact, believes Belichick's
two predecessors might not have been able to successfully guide the team
through one setback after another the way Belichick
has this season.
But he also sees a danger in becoming
too beholden to any coach.
"I have a simple philosophy: Believe
in the guy you've got," he says. "Whoever the owner brings in, you've got to
commit yourself to him, because if you have any animosity or you don't
believe in what he's doing, you're not going to succeed."
For example, there were a few "Parcells
guys" during Carroll's tenure who never could get The Tuna out of their
system and thus had the potential to become a cancer to the team.
Same thing when Belichick replaced
This sure isn't the way Coach X
would have done things.
And then a sneer, either outwardly,
inwardly or both
"If you don't buy into (a coach's
philosophy)," Bruschi says, "you're going to be a player who's resenting
what he does, and you're going to be a player who's selfish and looking out
for statistics and you're not going to be thinking about wins."
A two-time consensus All-American,
Bruschi became something of a sack specialist at Arizona. He finished with
52 sacks to tie the Division I-A record of Derrick Thomas.
Sacks, however, haven't been his niche
in the NFL. At 6-1, Bruschi moved from the line to linebacker and has since
been asked to play that position in virtually every manner possible.
And, of course, Bruschi, who has
developed into an accomplished blocker as well as tackler on special teams,
never questions the requests.
"He's kind of the Troy Brown of our
defense," says Belichick, comparing Bruschi to the team's versatile
receiver-returner. "He does a lot of things well, no matter what we ask him
to do. ...
"He's smart and a very instinctive
He's also a player making his second
trip to the Super Bowl.
Ask Bruschi about his first trip,
capped by a 35-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers, and he's torn how to
So he gives it the old
"You've got to get here first," he
says, "and to get here is an extreme accomplishment."
"(Losing) sort of bursts your bubble,"
Bruschi says. "You come this far, and all of the sudden you couldn't get it
done ó it's sort of an insulting feeling."
So is, oddly, the feeling he gets when
he looks at that season's AFC Championship ring ó a piece of jewelry he
"I'm still in the prime of my career,
and I believe I can still be a world champion," he says.
"To wear a second-place ring is sort
of non-climactic. I want to wear one that says, 'I'm a world champion and
you can't take that away from me.'"
A Super Bowl hero got his start at Roseville
KOVR 13 News
Coach Larry Cunha's most prized possession is
from his former student - now an NFL star - Tedy
One of the New
England Patriot football stars is from the Sacramento valley. 29-year-old Tedy
Bruschi is a native of
Roseville. Stephanie Nishikawa went back to
his neighborhood where his career started as a
Roseville High school tiger.
Coach Larry Cunha's most prized possession
is from his former student - now an NFL star - Tedy
On the field, he's number 54 - a defensive lineman with the New England
Patriots, taking home his first Super Bowl ring on Sunday.
Before Bruschi was a Patriot he was a
"Tiger"- as the star defensive lineman here at
Roseville High School from high school football to the NFL, he hasn't
forgotten his roots.
Coach Larry Cunha /
Roseville High School: "He's come back a
number of times. He's worked out here several times. (He) comes back for
weddings of classmates and stopped by and visited so he's been good about coming
back and when he's available talking to our kids."
On Super Bowl Sunday Roseville fans were
cheering on their hometown star even his old neighborhood near Foothills
Boulevard put up signs that say "Go Patriots!"
His determination to make it big gives these football players confidence
before game time.
Jason Blair / Former Neighbor: "Absolutely, he's our hometown boy, and I
wanted to see him do well for our Roseville
Nick Parker / Roseville High School
Football Player: "Seeing that he made it to the pros, and that it's not just
talent - because in high school he didn't have raw talent
and he wasn't big and he just worked hard. I know I can work hard and
then I can do it."
Coach Cunha gives his football team pep
talks. His favorite is the story of Bruschi's
dream of being drafted into the NFL and how he made it a reality.
Bruschi's family moved away from northern
California four years ago. He now lives in Tucson with his wife and son, and
they're expecting another child in May.
Bruschi's autograph pictures still adorn
the walls of Roseville High, including
Sports Illustrated's edition with Bruschi
on the cover.
By Hector Longo
Eagle-Tribune Writer 2/4/02
Tedy feels like Rocky
Bruschi was your typical in-your-face middle
linebacker last night, helping to hold the ever-explosive Marshall Faulk to just
76 yards on 17 carries.
has spent his whole career silencing critics who have said he was too small or
wasn't good enough or what have you, just had a phenomenal season, capped by
yesterday's performance (4 solo tackles).
just feel like Rocky right now," said Bruschi, who
has been confused for Sylvester Stallone on more than one occasion. "I feel like
Rocky, and I've just beaten up Apollo, Clubber, Drago and Tommy Gunn, all in the
HAIL TO THE CHAMPS; Bruschi glad Pats
made fans' day
Tuesday, February 5, 2002
NEW ORLEANS -- Patriots middle linebacker Tedy Bruschi is a San Francisco native
with an uncanny understanding of what it's like to be a pro sports fan in
The Patriots were the only franchise of the four major pro sports teams
without a championship, a notion that has irked Bruschi since the Pats' loss to
the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI in 1997.
That changed in dramatic fashion Sunday night when the Patriots rocked the
football establishment with a dramatic, 20-17, upset victory over the St. Louis
Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI in the Superdome for the first title in their 42-year
Bruschi was well aware of the Patriots' place at the bottom of Boston's
four-tiered ladder. Despite the fact the Red Sox (1918), the Bruins (1972) and
the Celtics (1986) were a long time between championships, they always had past
glories to fall back on.
The Patriots finished at the bottom of the AFC East Division (5-11) last
season. The Patriots jumped from last to first in the division and went on to
beat the Oakland Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers with amazing efforts to
capture the AFC crown.
The fact that the Patriots were 14-point underdogs in the Super Bowl only
added to the historical significance of their victory over the Rams, according
Bruschi said the Patriots' victory will go down as one of the greatest
moments in Boston sports history.
"We are talking history here and I told the team, let's go out and do
something historic," Bruschi said. "This game is going to go down as one of the
biggest upsets in sports history and the biggest in recent memory.
"To put us in that company is great. The people of Boston are going to look
at that and never forget what we accomplished. I can't tell you how proud I feel
to have the name Tedy Bruschi starting at middle linebacker be attached to
Bruschi recognized that the sports fans of Boston were growing more
frustrated and in need of a championship fix. Bruschi feels proud to be part of
the first Boston team to raise a banner in the new millennium.
"I feel good for the people of Boston, I really do," Bruschi said.
"People in Boston look upon the Red Sox with the Curse of the Bambino that's
been there a long time and may never be lifted even though they have come close.
"The Patriots had been there twice and didn't win it both times in New
Orleans, and it looked like we were going to New Orleans to lose again. The
Celtics have had their glory days and the Bruins are doing well, but there has
been a drought in New England.
"I feel so proud because the people there make me feel good. I feel proud to
bring that silver trophy home with me."
Home Cookin': They beat the odds to be
part of a champion
By Joe Davidson -- Bee Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 12, 2002
You think the Patriots were underdogs?
What about two cogs in the New England machine, Tedy Bruschi and Lonie Paxton,
local products who still aren't ready to get off cloud nine more than a week
since the Super Bowl?
"I've been an underdog since I came out of the womb." said Bruschi, the
undersized, ransacking linebacker from Roseville High School considered the
heart and soul of the Patriots' defense.
And Paxton, the former Sacramento State free spirit, felt fortunate to even have
a job in the NFL. But he can long-snap -- crouch just so and fire a football
between his legs -- for historic field goals. He was the one delivering in the
snow in the AFC playoff victory over the Raiders and again for the biggest field
goal in Super Bowl history, the 48-yarder that shattered the St. Louis Rams in
New Orleans as time ran out.
And Paxton is the one who made snow angels fashionable. He was on his back,
flapping his tattooed arms like an injured duck -- or a 6-year-old who had
discovered snow for the first time -- after the triumph over Oakland. After
making his snap against the Rams and pile-driving his man to the turf, Paxton
hoofed it toward the end zone to do the dry-land version of the angels on the
Superdome's artificial turf.
"I did confetti angels, just like I promised my family I would," Paxton said the
other day. "I didn't expect to win on a last-second kick. But I knew we'd win,
and I knew I'd be doing those angels."
Paxton is no fool. Undrafted after a sparkling four-year career as a Hornets
offensive lineman, he was signed by the Patriots two years ago. He has used his
skills and charisma to become something of a media darling. Who says long
snappers can't be stars? He has been so good, so valuable at his craft that he
isn't allowed to play anything else.
He has put his marketing degree to good use, appearing on ESPN and on radio
across the land, a radio/TV host in the making after his football career, which
likely will be a lengthy one.
"I have a grin you can't tear off my face," Paxton said. "This has been a
one-in-a-million experience that I'll cherish till the day I die. And the snow
angels thing was all about fun. I mean, I grew up in Southern California where
it doesn't snow. I couldn't help myself."
Bruschi and Paxton said the Super Bowl triumph was for their fathers. Bruschi's
father, Tony Sr., died in December of prostate cancer. Bruschi is close with his
mother, Juanita Sandys, his siblings and his stepfather, Ron Sandys.
"My entire family was there, and that was special," Bruschi said. "I got my
pregame kiss from my wife, and I felt invincible."
Paxton's father, Lonie Sr., is in fine shape, a retired construction worker and
a football fan to the core. He was in the Superdome, doing body English as the
field goal went up and then through. And there were hugs for father and son.
Growing up in Southern California, Paxton and his father attended Los Angeles
Rams games for years, and they chuckled at the irony of whom the Patriots would
"We were no longer Rams fans when they moved to St. Louis," Paxton said. "But it
was sweet to play them in the Super Bowl."
For Bruschi, it's off to his home in Tucson, Ariz., to prepare for another son
in March. For Paxton, it's off to the ocean, with Pops and with his girlfriend,
former Sac State volleyball star Angela Lewis. Look out fish and surfboards. And
look out sand.
"I may do some snow angels," Paxton said.
* Paxton said he is forever indebted to Sac State coach John Volek, the only man
who seriously recruited him. He signed a photo for his old boss that reads,
"It's because of your drive and love for the game that made my career at Sac
State the best choice I have ever made. Your No. 1 long snapper, Lonie."
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