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Updated    12/05/10

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2001 Season

Click here for entire Bruschi Article Archive

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 action.

"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 Patriot.

"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 depth.

"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 the game."

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."


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 performance.

   "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 other way.

   "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 Bruschi.

   "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 versatile player."

   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 direct traffic.

   "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 England.

   "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 opportunity."


 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. Frankenstein.

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 this one.

"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 his preparation.

"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 returns.

"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 tenacity.

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 245 pounds.

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 extra.
 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 calling card.

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 turf.

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 forward."

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 getting better."

Bruschi shines as middleman
by Michael Felger

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

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.''


    As 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 front four.''


Tedy Bruschi is the Patriots' do-it-all player
by Karen Guregian
Sunday, December 16, 2001

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 positions.

    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 extraordinaire?


    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 Deal'' pitch.


    ``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 happen.''


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 out.


    ``After representing 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.


    ``There's always 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 that.''


    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 low profile.''


    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 man possessed.


    ``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 in May.


    ``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 right.''


    Between Tedy the player, Tedy the agent and Tedy the musician, chances are the Bruschi children are going to turn out just fine.

Bruschi File

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.
 Jim Donaldson

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 now.

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 out.

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 was."

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."

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."

Just call Bruschi ĎMr. Versatilityí

Linebacker does it all for Pats


Journal-Register News Service

FOXBORO ó Just call him Mr. Versatility; but in the New England locker room. he is simply known as "Tedy."


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 physical."


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 years.


"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 11 games.


"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 coverage.


"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

Patriots notebook

    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.

    In 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 more."

    At 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 now.


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

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 intact

By Len Pasquarelli
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 million-$4.8 million.


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.


Bruschi, 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.


Bruschi had 100-plus tackles in both 1999 and 2000.


FOOTBALL: PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK; Bruschi signs on for three more
Boston Herald
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 relationship.

    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 the team.

    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.
 Paul Kenyon

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 Bowl.

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 quickly.

"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 this week.

"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
Kevin Mannix
Boston Herald
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 inactive list.

    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 two."

    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 coordinator.

    "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 1994-96.

    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 role
Ed Gray
Boston Herald 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 pounds.

    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 champions.

    "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 world champions."

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 it.


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.


Bruschi 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."


Bruschi 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 on Sunday."


Bruschi has grown up off the field since his last Super Bowl visit to New Orleans. He is now married (Heidi) with a son, Tedy Jr.


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 Bruschi.


"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 Tedy 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 here before.


"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.

Bruschi longs for dirty game: Says pristine Superdome favors Rams

Lee Shappell
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 your head.


That's not Tedy Bruschi's style, nor that of his AFC champion New England Patriots defensive teammates, Bruschi said.

Tedy Bruschi

OLB, 6 feet 1, 245 pounds


Arizona, sixth season


1996 consensus All-American


2001 regular-season stats:


Tackles 73


Solo 54


Assists 19


Sacks 2


Ints 2


(third-leading tackler on team)



Bruschi, 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."


Bruschi 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."


Bruschi 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 Bruschi's assessment.


"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."


Bruschi 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."


Bruschi 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, 86th overall.


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
Boston Herald
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' coaching carousel

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 Carroll.


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 player."


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 respond.


So he gives it the old best-of-times-worst-of-times spin.


"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 doesn't wear.


"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 High School

Stephanie Nishikawa, KOVR 13 News


Coach Larry Cunha's most prized possession is from his former student - now an NFL star - Tedy Bruschi.

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 Bruschi.

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 community."

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. KOVR 13 NEWS

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

Tedy 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.

Bruschi, who 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).

"I 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 same night."


HAIL TO THE CHAMPS; Bruschi glad Pats made fans' day
Boston Herald
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 Boston.

    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 history.

    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 to Bruschi.

    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 that."

    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 face.

"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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