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2005 Season

Click here for entire Bruschi Article Archive

 

 

Bruschi able to collect salary after suffering stroke

07/28/05FOXBORO, Mass. -- New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, recovering from a mild stroke, was placed on the physically unable-to-perform list on Thursday.

That designation allows him to collect his salary and even come back after Week 6 if he chooses.

Bruschi, who will make $850,000, said last week he decided to sit out the 2005 season to recover from the stroke 10 days after New England beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in the Super Bowl.

Also Thursday, New England signed first-year free agent receiver Rich Musinski, who played in three preseason games for the Tennessee Titans before he was cut last September.

The Patriots also placed receivers Tim Dwight and Bethel Johnson on the physically unable-to-perform list along with kick returner Chad Morton and guard Bryan Anderson.

Dwight and Morton were signed as free agents.

Dwight is a veteran of seven NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers. He had just two receptions for 31 yards last season, in part because of a toe injury.

Morton injured his right knee last season and appeared in just six games for the Washington Redskins.

Ted Johnson, who announced his retirement Thursday on the eve of what would have been his 11th NFL training camp, was placed on the reserve-retired list.

Defensive tackle Ethan Kelley was placed on the non-football injury list. He spent most of last season on the practice squad.

ESPN.com - Bruschi able to collect salary after suffering stroke

Bill: No reverse on Bruschi in '05

Saturday, July 30, 2005

 

FOXBORO - By placing Tedy Bruschi on the physically unable to perform list on Thursday, the Patriots left the door open for the linebacker's return late in the season.
 

     Yesterday, Bill Belichick slammed that door shut.
 

     Belichick said Bruschi's statement from two weeks ago - he said he was sitting out the 2005 season recovering from a Feb. 16 stroke - is the real letter of the law. Belichick acknowledged that Bruschi will remain around Gillette Stadium this year, training alongside his teammates. But when it comes to a return to the field, everyone will have to wait.
 

     ``What Tedy has said, and the statement he's made, that's what it is. That's the way Tedy feels, that's the way I feel and that's the way the organization feels,'' Belichick said. ``I wouldn't try to read into any other league classification or some other rule. I don't think that has any bearing on the truth of the matter, which is Tedy's position - and therefore the organization's (position), because we support him.''

MetroWestDailyNews.com - Printer Friendly

Bill Belichick's Press Conference 07/29/05

Q: You can put other players in the spots of Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson, but can you talk a little bit about replacing their knowledge and experience on the field?

BB: We've been dealing with the Bruschi situation since the end of the season and we all know what it was. We certainly respect Tedy's decision, but I don't think that really came as a big surprise. That has been an ongoing situation. Ted has been here 10 years in the organization and played for me the last five. Every season undergoes changes. Every season is a new season even if it was the same people. There are still changes that the new team or the current team has to deal with as things are different. That is part of football. I've been in the NFL over 30 years and it has been like that every single year in one way or another. Sometimes when it seems like we've had the most changes, those have turned out to be some of the better years. I don't know that there is necessarily any big correlation to that. But, it is what it is. We've got changes at a number of spots and in a number of different areas. We'll take care of them on a case-by-case basis and try to put it together.

Official Website of the New England Patriots

Take the money and run? Not Bruschi

Nick Cafardo

This says it all about Tedy Bruschi: According to a source familiar with the Patriots' talks with the linebacker, the Krafts presented Bruschi with the option of retiring now and receiving the final $3.9 million on his contract, but he instead elected to keep his hopes alive of playing again. By doing so, his nonguaranteed contract remains in effect, with no promises of future earnings beyond this season's $850,000 salary.

If Bruschi is forced to retire a year down the road, it would be interesting to see whether the Krafts would still pay off his contract. The guess here is they would. But certainly by that time there will be salary-cap ramifications to consider, and a new negotiation would have to take place.

Bruschi is expected to be seen around Gillette Stadium working out with trainers and taking part in team meetings, but he was not on the sidelines during the first practice sessions of training camp this weekend. Bruschi would like to keep a low profile, while recovering physically to the point where he can gain medical clearance to play.

Teammates expect Bruschi to play a vital role in the weekly game plans. ''He's never been shy about expressing his opinions," one teammate said.

Sold that QB's a Bill of good? - The Boston Globe - Boston.com - Patriots - Sports

 

Pats move on without Bruschi
By JIMMY GOLEN

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Tedy Bruschi's stall in the New England Patriots' locker-room remains intact, and he still comes by to attend meetings or work out.

He's still on the roster and still there if teammates need his expertise; now that teammate Ted Johnson is retired and defensive co-ordinator Romeo Crennel is the head coach in Cleveland, it's doubtful anyone but coach Bill Belichick knows the team's defense better.

But Patriots players say they give Bruschi wide berth these days - partly to allow him to rehab from the stroke that might yet end his career, and partly because there's no point in dwelling on the Pro Bowl linebacker's absence.

"We have a lot of respect and love for Bruschi. But he's gone," safety Rodney Harrison said. "That's unfortunate for us, but we have to move on. Just like if I got injured they'd have to move on without me. That's just part of the game. That's reality."

The Patriots have won three NFL championships in the past four years, and that doesn't leave much time for sentimentality.

After 2001, the season of their first Super Bowl title, the Patriots discarded franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe - even after he almost died from an on-field hit - because Tom Brady just kept winning. Since then, there has been a steady stream of stalwarts heading out, including Lawyer Milloy, Ted Washington and Damien Woody.

This year, the Patriots' losses include their offensive and defensive co-ordinators, cornerback Ty Law and offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi. But nowhere is the void bigger than at linebacker, where Bruschi, Johnson and Roman Phifer are gone, plus Mike Vrabel has missed time in training camp because of an undisclosed injury.

"You lose a great player," linebacker Rosevelt Colvin said of Bruschi. "He's a playmaker. He's a guy that has been one of the faces of the franchise, and a tremendous leader on and off the field.

"Unfortunately, he's not on the field with us. But that's the reality we have to deal with. It's not going to help us" to worry about it. "Everybody's got to go out and take care of their jobs."

A 250-pound defensive lineman at Arizona who was converted to linebacker as a rookie in 1996, Bruschi had a knack for being around the ball. He was second on the team in total tackles last season with 122; in 136 games over his career, he has 753 tackles, 25 sacks, 11 interceptions and 17 forced fumbles.

But he suffered a stroke 10 days after the Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in the Super Bowl - just three days after playing in his first Pro Bowl. He has largely refrained from commenting, and attempts to reach him through his agent and the team's media relations department were unsuccessful.

The Patriots put Bruschi on the physically unable to perform list, which allows them to pay him his $850,000 US salary this year, and he has been working out at Gillette Stadium. His activities are reportedly more along the lines of rehabbing from the stroke than getting into football shape.

"This is the best place for him because we know him the best," Belichick said this week. "We know what his workout levels are, how to challenge him and how to monitor him and how to treat any problems that he would have doing it, just like any other player. Basically, whatever he's doing, he's doing here."

But Bruschi hasn't been on the practice field, and he hasn't been seen in the locker-room during the periods it's open to the media.

Belichick will speak glowingly about Bruschi and what he meant to the team, but the New England coach doesn't waste too much time worrying about it. For now, Bruschi's role is to get better, though they have discussed getting the rehabbing linebacker more involved.

"Tedy is here. He's here on a daily basis. Certainly any player that would want to go up to Tedy and say, 'Hey what about this? What about that? How did you read this play? How would you play this coverage?' Tedy would, I'm sure, help him in any way that he possibly could," Belichick said.

"As far as just having the responsibility or the accountability to take a certain group, coach them and do anything specific with them, we haven't done that and I don't think we're at that point now. . . . The situation may change.

"He's been doing what he's been doing. Really everybody else has been pretty busy doing what they're doing. We feel like at this point that is the best thing for everybody involved. That may change later on during the season. I'm not saying it will. I'm not saying it won't. But it could."

CANOE -- SLAM! Sports - NFL: Pats move on without Bruschi

Change is their constant

FOXBOROUGH -- They aren't Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson. Rest assured, linebackers Chad Brown and Monty Beisel are acutely aware of that fact. Trying to help fill the void left by two of the most popular Patriots in recent memory has appeared, at times, to be a Herculean task, not just because of the two Teds' abilities, but because of their presence both in the locker room and in the community. Bruschi, in particular, has been elevated to the level of sports icon, the embodiment of everything tough and endearing about this franchise.

Good luck trying to get anyone to forget about him any time soon.

Trust me, neither Beisel nor Brown would dream of it. Every day, they are confronted with a reminder of the impact of their predecessors.

''It's definitely out there," Beisel acknowledged. ''You see all those Bruschi jerseys hanging in the pro shop, and people around town wearing Ted Johnson's number. But it's more than that. I saw them play on television last year. I know what they accomplished and how important they were to this team's success. So, sure, I'm aware of it."

Change in the NFL is inevitable. Both vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli and coach Bill Belichick have proved to be masterful at absorbing key losses, plugging the holes, and maintaining their level of excellence. The Patriots mourned former Pro Bowler Lawyer Milloy for all of a week before they regained their composure, implemented the necessary personnel, and moved on. The departure of nose tackle Ted Washington to Oakland last season was expected to (literally) leave a gaping hole in the middle of New England's defense, before rookie Vince Wilfork proved himself to be yet another wise, impact draft choice. When Damien Woody opted for the big money in Detroit, we fretted what impact that would have on the offensive line. The answer at the end of the day: nothing of significance. Quarterback Tom Brady had all the protection he needed to systematically dismantle the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.

Yet somehow this year seems different. Charlie Weis, the offensive mastermind, and Romeo Crennel, the defensive stalwart, took their considerable talents elsewhere. The players continue to speak openly about the influence both men had on this football team. The Patriots will open the 2005 season without offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi, Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law, and linebacker mainstays Roman Phifer, Bruschi, and Johnson. The latter three, offers defensive lineman Richard Seymour, have required the biggest adjustment to date.

''We lost our three starting linebackers," Seymour said. ''You can't take those guys out and expect everything to be the same. We haven't done as well as we'd like, but it's early. If we had all the answers, we wouldn't need camp."

Combine the sobering fact that Mike Vrabel has been injured most of the preseason, and it's understandable why the defense has been in flux. In their last exhibition game, the Patriots gave up 187 rushing yards (4.3 yards per carry) to New Orleans and enabled the Saints to convert 11 of 18 third-down chances (61 percent). They hope to improve on those numbers tomorrow night against Green Bay, when they will dress all of their healthy regulars.

Be careful, cautioned Vrabel, of putting too much stock in preseason numbers.

''As a team, we've yet to form our identity," said Vrabel. ''But every year we've proven we can play great football down the stretch. You get the sense that people are worried, but I think it's a little early to start hitting the panic button."

Vrabel does not discount the chemistry that Andruzzi and Bruschi provided, nor does he downplay the professionalism players such as Johnson brought to work each day. He likes the new guys -- he just doesn't know them yet.

''Are we where Ted and Tedy and I were? Of course not," Vrabel said. ''But when I came in here in 2001, it's not like I automatically hit it off with those guys. It took time. I had to build a relationship with Willie [McGinest] and Tedy and Ted. They had to learn to trust me."

The trust must be earned. Both new linebackers have been, in Beisel's words, merely trying to ''follow the line."

''They've challenged us," Beisel confirmed. ''I'm sitting in a meeting the first day and they start asking me questions about what I know about the defense, right in front of everyone else."

Belichick appeared piqued Tuesday when queried about his run defense, and his new linebackers in particular. Asked if it was unrealistic for fans to think Brown and Beisel could make as few mistakes as the previous inside linebackers, Belichick answered, ''I don't know. What difference does it make?"

''There are 11 people out there playing defense," Belichick said. ''What makes a difference is how those 11 people play. That's what defense is about. It's about team defense. You are always trying to isolate it into one player, one situation or one thing, and it just doesn't work that way."

Belichick later contended it is far too early to judge anybody on his performance.

''I don't think anybody knows where their team is three weeks into training camp," he said. ''I think you have a lot better idea after six regular-season games. That's when I think it starts to really come together."

Rodney Harrison can attest to that. It took him several weeks to find his comfort zone with the team when he arrived as a free agent in 2003.

''A guy like Chad Brown is still trying to get up to speed with this system and all the different personalities," Harrison offered. ''I'm confident one day we're going to look up and pow, he's going to have it all figured out.

''It took me until the seventh or eighth week, but once I got it, I felt like I had been here for years."

Nobody is asking Brown and Beisel to be Tedy and Ted -- least of all Belichick. The secret to the coach's success has long been his ability to assemble a pool of talent and meld it into a unit that works off each other's strengths. That system changes slightly from year to year, depending on the personnel.

Having said that, if he is able to transition this team into yet another Super Bowl contender, it could well be his most impressive performance to date. Plugging holes based on ability is one thing, but plugging them with athletes who provide similar leadership qualities is quite another. Sure, there's comfort in knowing three of your most critical pieces -- Brady, Seymour, and kicker Adam Vinatieri -- remain intact. But can the emotional leadership of Bruschi be matched? Will the offensive line be as reliable without Andruzzi? How much will they miss Weis's creativity?

''There are changes every year," Belichick said yesterday. ''If you told me last year that Troy Brown would be playing in the secondary and Randall Gay and Asante Samuel would be starting in the Super Bowl, I would have looked at you like you were crazy."

The man has a point. He usually does. Check back with him in Week 6.

Change is their constant - The Boston Globe

 

Doing his part

Belichick said linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who has announced he will not play this season, has been a regular at Gillette and continues to work out in his ''offseason program."

''Where else would he do it?" Belichick said. ''He's been working here since, I don't know, he's always worked here. He is familiar with all the people that he works with, the strength coaches, the trainers, the rehab people, everybody. So this is the best place for him because we know him the best.

''We know what his workout levels are. How to challenge him and how to monitor him and how to treat any problems that he would have doing it, just like any other player. Basically, whatever he's doing, he's doing here."

Belichick said he wouldn't describe Bruschi's contribution thus far as a coaching role, but said the two have discussed what his role might be and are likely to talk about it again when the regular season begins.

''Tedy is here on a daily basis. Certainly any player that would want to go up to Tedy and say, 'Hey what about this? What about that? How did you read this play? How would you play this coverage?' Tedy would, I'm sure, help him in any way that he possibly could," Belichick said. ''As far as just having the responsibility or the accountability to take a certain group, coach them, and do anything specific with them, we haven't done that and I don't think we're at that point now."

The word from Sam: I am back - The Boston Globe


Making his presence felt

Michael Parente

FOXBORO -- Just because he’s not on the field with his teammates doesn’t mean Tedy Bruschi can’t play an important role as the New England Patriots prepare for the upcoming season.

Since suffering a stroke in February, Bruschi has been actively participating in workouts and team meetings at Gillette Stadium. The veteran linebacker announced in July that he will not play this year, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick indicated Wednesday that Bruschi will continue to help in other areas throughout the season.

"We've talked about it and we said that we would talk about it again prior to the season," Belichick said. "We haven't gotten to that point yet. We will at some point. I don't think in the last three or four weeks was really the time to do it.

"As we get into the regular season, then we'll start to evaluate what that might be, where he is, where we are and what the different options are and what everybody feels like needs to be done and what's the best way to do it."

Bruschi is on the physically unable to perform list, and -- since he doesn’t count toward the roster -- he’ll likely remain there when final cuts are made on Sept. 6. Once a player opens the regular season on PUP, he has to sit out the first six weeks. Then the team is given a three-week window to active him. From there, they have 21 days to make a decision on his status.

Bruschi can’t practice right now, so he’s found other ways to help out. He’s been watching film with his teammates, sitting through meetings and offering advice whenever he’s asked for input. Assuming he stays on PUP, there’s a chance he could resume practice later this winter, therefore expanding his role in the team’s weekly preparation.

"He's been here regularly and is continuing to work in his offseason program," Belichick said. "He's always worked here. He is familiar with all the people that he works with -- the strength coaches, the trainers, the rehab people -- so this is the best place for him because we know him the best.

"We know what his workout levels are. How to challenge him and how to monitor him and how to treat any problems that he would have doing it just like any other player. Basically, whatever he's doing, he's doing here."

Asked if Bruschi has taken on a coaching role this summer, Belichick said, "I wouldn’t describe it that way," but Bruschi’s situation could change at some point during the season.

"I'm not saying it will. I'm not saying it won't, but it could," Belichick said. "Certainly, if any player went up to Tedy and said, 'Hey what about this? How did you read this play? How would you play this coverage?' I'm sure Tedy would help him in any way that he possibly could.

"As far as just having the responsibility or the accountability to take a certain group, coach them and do anything specific with them, we haven't done that and I don't think we’re at that point. We feel like at this point that is the best thing for everybody involved."

His teammates enjoy having him around. Third-year linebacker Dan Klecko said it’s "uplifting" to see Bruschi in meetings and in the weight room and said he’s asked him for hints at various points throughout the offseason.

"Tedy’s been around, and that’s been great. It’s great to see that he’s doing well," Klecko said. "With anybody, it’d be great to see, but with Tedy, everybody on the team has great respect for him, and it’s awesome to see him around."

Bruschi was a valuable part of the Patriots’ defense over the last four years and one of the most clutch playmakers in the NFL. He was also a team captain and a well-respected veteran who was often praised for his commitment to the organization. Bruschi always negotiated his own contracts and consistently took less money to stay in New England.

"I see him all the time," linebacker Rosevelt Colvin said. "It’s great to have him around. Unfortunately, he is not on the field with us, but what Tedy brings to the table is not just on the field, but off the field as well.

"Just to see him up and about, moving around and living a normal life is a good thing. He can help people playing his position and see things differently than someone else might see them. I think it’s encouraging to have him around."

Third-year defensive lineman Ty Warren said Bruschi’s presence at Gillette Stadium this summer and his commitment to his offseason program "puts everything into perspective." Much like his teammates, Warren wouldn’t mind if Bruschi took on more responsibility during the season -- anything to keep him part of the team.

"I don’t think anybody would have a problem with that," Warren said. "No one has a problem with Tedy’s presence around this locker room. Tedy loves football and it’s great to see him around giving his input on whatever he might think. It’s great to have his presence around."
 

From Patsblog

Bruschi Sighting

FOXBORO - Linebacker Tedy Bruschi was seen for the first time since training camp opened July 29.

The Pats passionate defensive leader, who's on the PUP list, walked from the Patriots weight room to his locker where he smiled and shook hands with a small handful of media types before checking out again.

Bruschi said he wasn't up for addressing reporters today but his presence in the locker room was still good to see.

Also, tackle Matt Light, out since last week, was in the locker room and told a media horde that he expected to be back to practice.

T

projo.com | PatsBlog

Bruschi plans to play next year

Cites post-stroke progress

NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH -- Linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who suffered a stroke Feb. 15, revealed yesterday he intends to play football for the Patriots next season.

''I've talked with a lot of people and heard a lot of opinions," said Bruschi, in his first extensive comments since being taken by ambulance from his North Attleborough home to Massachusetts General Hospital last winter. ''Cardiologists, neurologists. And not one of them said, 'Tedy, you can't play again.'

''I'm definitely playing next year. That's my ace in the hole. It's a little hard to sit back and watch the guys [this season], but it's easier knowing I've got something to look forward to.

''My goal is to play football again, but it wouldn't have been my goal if my doctors weren't on board and my family wasn't on board. They are."

Bruschi emphatically denied that he will return at any point this season to the Patriots, who kick off the defense of their Super Bowl crown Thursday night against the Oakland Raiders at Gillette Stadium.

''I'm telling you right now that's not going to happen," he said. ''I need to do what's best for my family and myself.

''There's a difference between living life normally and being fine and getting ready for a professional football season. I need the year to get myself ready.

''I considered playing this year. We talked about it a lot. But this is something you don't rush. It's not a sprained ankle. This is my medical health, and although I'm feeling great right now, I've also been told by my doctors some time will help. It will help medically, but it will also help me deal with it mentally. I think I've healed faster physically than I have emotionally."

Speculation has been rampant regarding Bruschi and his football future since he suffered the mild stroke nearly seven months ago, just days after returning from the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. He confirmed yesterday the stroke was the result of a blood clot that doctors believe traveled through a small hole in his heart. He also confirmed he underwent a procedure in Boston in March to repair it. The origin of the clot, he said, has never been determined, nor has the cause of the clot.

''Maybe I was a little dehydrated, maybe it was the long flight back from Hawaii," Bruschi said. ''There's really no way of knowing."

Startling realization
Bruschi said he prefers to keep the names of the physicians who attended to him private, but he was willing to describe a harrowing five days in which the high of his third Super Bowl victory and his first Pro Bowl appearance quickly evaporated as he and his wife, Heidi, dealt with a medical crisis that blindsided them.

Bruschi had been home a day and a half from Hawaii when he woke up around 4 a.m. experiencing numbness in both his left arm and his left leg.

''I woke up with sort of a pain in the back of my neck," he explained. ''I sat up in bed and the left side of my arm and my leg felt funny. There was some numbness, almost like a loss of control, so I got up and used the restroom."

As Bruschi tried to stand up, he lost his balance and had to grab hold of the side of the bed. Heidi woke up and asked what was wrong.

''I sort of limped to the restroom, then came back and we talked about it for a little bit," Bruschi said. ''I had a headache. I was uncomfortable, but we decided just to go back to sleep. You've got to remember, I've woken up with pain plenty of times before. Lots of times I've moaned and groaned and gotten out of bed, shaken off the pain, then gone back to sleep. We figured this was the same sort of thing."

Heidi let her husband rest until around 10, then went back into the bedroom to check on him.

''I woke up with the same numbness," Bruschi said. ''At that point I'm thinking, 'I wonder what's wrong? I've never felt this way before.' "

Heidi made two calls: one to Patriots head trainer Jim Whalen, and the other to her father, who is a physician's assistant. After hearing Bruschi's symptoms, each urged Heidi to drive him to Mass. General for an examination.

''But even then I was saying, 'I don't know if I need to go,' " Bruschi said. ''I was thinking it was something that could possibly pass. I didn't have a tremendous amount of pain."

It wasn't until his 5-year old son, Tedy Jr., scampered into the room that the linebacker realized the severity of his condition.

''TJ came in from my left," Bruschi said. ''I heard him, but I didn't see him. I didn't see him until he popped up on the right side of my field of vision and said, 'Good morning, Daddy.'

''That's when I got scared. I told Heidi, 'Call 911.' "

Heidi's composed phone conversation with the paramedics has been replayed coast to coast on numerous newscasts. But her calm demeanor masked the panic she was feeling as she described her husband's symptoms, including erroneously reporting the numbness was on his right side. ''It's the only mistake she's made during this whole deal," Bruschi cracked.

The next call was to a close friend who offered to come and watch their three boys, all under age 6.

''The baby, Dante, was only about 8 weeks old," Heidi said. ''I was still nursing him. I was wondering, 'Should I leave the baby here? Should I take him with us?' My friend finally said, 'I've got formula. Leave him here. Just go.' "

As their mother fought back tears, young TJ and Rex followed their father out to the ambulance and kissed him goodbye. Within minutes, the Bruschis were en route to Mass. General, with the paramedics already having identified him as a probable stroke victim.

Bruschi was whisked into the emergency room, where a CAT scan was administered.

''Within minutes of the CAT scan, the doctor came out, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, 'You've had a mild stroke,' " Bruschi recalled. ''I said, 'What?' I was in disbelief. It was a total shock to me."

Because Bruschi had delayed reporting his symptoms so long, he said, it was too late for the doctors to attempt to break up the clot.

''The thing that people don't understand is you have three hours once you think you are experiencing a stroke to do something about it," Bruschi said. ''If you can get to the hospital right away, you can get a clot-busting drug that could save your life.

''That's one of the reasons I'm talking about this publicly. I want people to realize if they have headaches or numbness, especially on one side, along with dizziness, loss of balance, or maybe even slurring of your words, you are having a stroke.

''Don't do what I did. Don't go back to sleep. Get to the hospital as quickly as possible."

If Bruschi had gone to the hospital when he first experienced the numbness, would his stroke have been less invasive?

''We started talking about it the other night," Heidi said. ''But then we stopped. What's the point? We can't change what happened."

In the first 12 hours after Bruschi was admitted to the hospital, football was the furthest thing from his mind. His vision and his ability to walk had been severely compromised. The amount of damage he had incurred was still undetermined.

''I could have died," Bruschi said. ''The doctors told me that. If the clot was a couple of millimeters in a different direction, I might not be sitting here talking to you now. But it wasn't my time."

Healing begins
Bruschi spent three days at Mass. General. The first night, Whalen kept an around-the-clock vigil in his room. Bruschi awoke one morning to see Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his wife, Myra, by his bedside. Assistant trainer Dave Granito and vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli also visited.

He was released three days later with a horde of television cameras recording the moment. Bruschi smiled and waved, but appeared wan and unstable as Heidi led him to their car.

''I could still barely see and barely walk when I left the hospital," he said. ''I could walk better than what everyone saw [on television], but when that door opened and I saw everyone standing there, I grabbed Heidi and said, 'Make sure I don't fall.' "

Doctors monitored Bruschi closely over the next several weeks, making sure the clot dissipated and that there was no danger of an aneurysm. They waited until March to repair the hole in his heart because the procedure required putting him on a blood thinner, Coumadin, and they did not want to administer that until they were certain the clot had dissipated.

He began an intensive physical therapy program at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center, where his initial goal was modest: walk without stumbling. Bruschi navigated orange cones, threw and caught a ball while perched on a balancing beam, and tottered around a sheet of plastic.

It was a humbling experience for an elite athlete, but if it discouraged him, Heidi said, he rarely showed it. He simply kept to the task at hand.

''I know this guy better than anybody," Heidi said. ''I know he's driven and motivated and goal-driven. But this was the biggest shock of our lives. His career was taken from him, his ability to see his kids was taken from him, but he never felt sorry for himself. He just said, 'OK, what do we do next?' I was impressed by that. I'm still impressed by that."

There were days, however, when Bruschi simply was not sure whether his life would ever regain any sense of normalcy. His vision loss was the most troubling of all the symptoms, and there was no rehabilitation for that. Only time would tell if he would completely regain his sight.

''My test was looking at the digital clock we had in the bedroom," he said. ''We had it set high so Heidi could keep track of baby Dante's feedings.

''I'd look at that clock and if it was 12:29, I only saw 2:29. It worried me. But, over time, I started seeing the bottom of the 1. Then I started seeing the top of the 1. To the immediate left of the 1 on the clock, there is a little signal for the battery. Once I could see that, I knew I was OK."

It took six weeks for his eyesight to be fully restored. It took slightly longer for him to resume his decidedly unorthodox gait. As for the emotional fallout of his brush with mortality, that is an ongoing project. Bruschi said he's grateful the Patriots have allowed him to heal in peace.

''The Patriots haven't put any pressure on me," Bruschi said. ''[Coach] Bill [Belichick] has been extremely supportive. He's told me, 'Whatever you decide, Tedy, we're fine with it.'

''They've left the entire process up to us. Honestly, early on I thought I was done. I can't see, I can barely walk. So I'm listening to my body and it's telling me, 'Tedy, you can't do this.' But now time has passed, and my body is saying, 'Tedy, you've got a shot.' "

Raising awareness
The Bruschis have fielded hundreds of interview requests over the past six months, but kept silent, in part, because his condition was improving and changing daily. They also wanted to make the most informed decision about his future.

''I know people wanted information, but this was an in-house issue," Heidi explained. ''This affects our family for the rest of our lives. This is where the decision needed to be made first.

''We needed to be thorough, but we also wanted to put him in the best position possible. Wouldn't it have been devastating for him to go out there and not be right?"

Bruschi, who has been placed on the team's physically-unable-to-perform list (an official NFL roster designation in which a player must sit out the first six weeks of the season), understands there are no guarantees he will return to his Pro Bowl form of 2004. He has not tested his body against full contact, although he works out daily and regularly attends the team meetings.

''I get excited when we see a game plan for Green Bay," he said. ''I'm anxious to see how we'll prepare for Oakland. I want to know what we're doing, how the linebackers will prepare for them. I talk to the guys. Chad [Brown] will ask me a question, and I'll gladly answer it. He's a good football player. Monty [Beisel], too. They're going to have great years and I'm going to have fun watching them."

That doesn't mean sitting out this season will be easy. The chance for New England to win three championships in a row will have to be done without their emotional defensive leader, and Bruschi knows it will get harder as the season progresses.

''I think about playing before I go to sleep," he admitted. ''I think about it a lot. But I tell my sons when they have a tough time calming down to take a deep breath. My time will come."

His experience has convinced him to join forces with the American Stroke Association to raise awareness about strokes and the need to address them immediately. He has pledged to form Tedy's Team, a group of runners who will train for marathons and solicit pledges, much like cyclists do in the successful cancer fund-raiser, the Pan-Mass Challenge.

''Strokes are the No. 1 disabler in America and the No. 3 killer," Bruschi said. ''I didn't know that before. I know it now."

Do not ask him to predict how this will affect his career. He has no idea. Nobody does.

''I know a lot can happen in a year," he said. ''A lot happened in a day and a half after the Pro Bowl. For years I've been preaching, 'One game a time.' That's how I'm living my life at the moment -- one day at a time."

Bruschi plans to play next year - The Boston Globe

Bruschi gets into it: Rehabbing linebacker takes on side job


By Karen Guregian/ Patriots Notebook
Friday, September 9, 2005 - Updated: 08:19 AM EST

FOXBORO – Linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who is sitting out this season after suffering a stroke in February, was on the Patriots sidelines for last night's season-opening 30-20 win over the Raiders, encouraging and advising players. He was frequently seen talking with the new players, particularly Monty Beisel, who, along with Chad Brown, is trying to the fill the void left in the middle of the Patriots defense by Bruschi's absence and the retirement of Ted Johnson.
 

     Bruschi had not been on the sidelines during the preseason games, despite working out at Gillette Stadium and lending his expertise behind the scenes.
 

     The 2004 Pro Bowler recently announced that he will return to action in the 2006 season.

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Bruschi gets into it: Rehabbing linebacker takes on side job

 

Sitting hurts Bruschi
By Karen Guregian
Saturday, September 10, 2005 - Updated: 10:40 AM EST

FOXBORO - You couldn't help but wonder what Tedy Bruschi was thinking, what he was feeling, what emotions were churning inside his body as he stood on the sideline with his teammates Thursday night for the first time since suffering a mild stroke in February.
 

     How about his mood right after watching Oakland's first offensive series, when the Raiders hit paydirt quicker than Ozzy Osbourne whipped through ``Crazy Train,'' driving the ball 72 yards in six plays?
 

     ``It was difficult, real difficult,'' Bruschi said when asked to describe the experience yesterday.
 

     The Pro Bowl defender, who is sitting out the season, is currently listed on the team's physically unable to perform list. His plan is to get back on the field in his familiar inside linebacker spot next season.
 

     Occasionally during the game, the cameras panned to Bruschi on the sideline and projected him on the big screens at either end of the stadium. When asked if he felt somewhat helpless watching his teammates, or if he felt like throwing on his shoulder pads and jumping in on a few plays, he flashed one of his classic Bruschi smiles before answering.
 

     ``I don't feel helpless at all because I feel there are other things I can do. I see things, and I can communicate them well, and that's where I am right now with the team, and the guys are great,'' Bruschi said. ``We've been constantly communicating in the meeting room, on the field . . . I don't feel helpless at all. I feel like I can be a help even though I'm not playing. There are a couple of guys in there I think I can help with what I know.''
 

     Specifically, Bruschi was often seen on the sideline chatting with linebackers Monty Beisel and Chad Brown. Even old pal Mike Vrabel wandered over to pick Tedy's brain here and there.
 

     There may have been a touch of awkwardness at first. Bruschi can't exactly hand over what he provided as a football player. His big-play capabilities, his heart and soul, can't be taught.
 

     When it comes to helping the Pats, Bruschi knows his role basically boils down to cheering, supporting, advising. And newcomers Beisel and Brown have been incredibly receptive to all he's had to offer.

``I'm not really suggesting things. I'm just talking to them about things, talking them through things. Seeing what they see, seeing if they see the same things I would have seen,'' Bruschi said. ``They're good football players. They've been playing a while. Chad's been playing a while. He's been to Pro Bowls. Monty's doing well out there, also. They're doing great on their own. If I can help them out a little bit, where they can see something a little easier, I think I can do that.''
 

     When asked if he had a hand in the decision to switch the defense from a 3-4 front, to a 4-3, a move that ultimately slowed down the Raiders offense, Bruschi replied: ``No, those coaches are doing just fine without me.''
 

     As for the warm reception and applause he received, particularly when the Gillette Stadium crowd noticed he was on the sideline, Bruschi couldn't help but take it all in.
 

     ``You always sense the crowd when you're out there,'' he said. ``It was very flattering once I realized they were getting excited because they saw me up on the screen.''
 

     Bruschi is keeping the same schedule as his teammates, just not playing.
 

     ``I'm feeling very well. I'm getting better all the time,'' he said. ``I'm working out, doing my conditioning and weight training. I'm just going day-by-day right now. That's all I can do.''
 

     Will he travel to Carolina for the Sept. 18 game?
 

     ``Today's like a Monday (schedule), but it's a Friday,'' Bruschi said. ``We don't travel to Carolina for a while. Right now, all I'm looking forward to is the weekend.''

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Sitting hurts Bruschi

 

Tedy, sooner than later? Eager Bruschi mum on return
By Karen Guregian
Friday, September 30, 2005 - Updated: 03:32 AM EST

FOXBORO – Every week, there's a red playbook, which is handed out to the defensive players, placed at Tedy Bruschi's locker.
 

     Some days, the Patriots linebacker, who suffered a mild stroke in February, will be at his seat, pouring over the diagrams and schemes for the upcoming game.
 

     Following the first game with Oakland, Bruschi spoke of how difficult it was for him to stand back and watch his teammates, doing nothing more than encouraging them from the sideline.
 

     It's gotten even harder, especially watching fellow defensive captain Rodney Harrison go down with a season-ending injury, and have his team battle through more adversity without him.
 

     Bruschi aches to play. That much is evident just by looking into his eyes. And while he's stated he won't be returning until the 2006 season, don't be surprised if he at least pursues all avenues toward making a swifter return. Word is, in fact, Bruschi is back seeing doctors, apparently hoping to gather enough information and data to see if it might at least be in the realm of possibility to come back sooner than he had planned.
 

     Remember, he still hasn't been put on the injured reserve list, making him ineligible to play. He sits on the physically unable to perform list, or PUP, which technically would allow him to return at some point after the sixth game of the season.
 

     It's interesting that when asked yesterday about the possibility of returning this season, Bruschi offered a flat, ``No comment.''
 

     He could have dismissed the notion outright and ended all chances for speculation right there. But he didn't.
 

     Might he truly have notions of donning that red cape and helping rescue the injury-ravaged Patriots? Might the player who had the knack for producing big plays in big games make a big re-entry later this season?
 

     Bruschi's agent, Brad Blank, wouldn't comment.
 

     And perhaps it's difficult for anyone to comment, because there are still so many bridges to cross, so many hurdles to jump.
 

      Bruschi still has to convince himself, his family, his doctors, and the Patriots that he can play without jeopardizing his health. On the surface, he sure looks great, and whenever he's asked, says he feels great. But only he knows if he has recovered enough, both emotionally and physically, to get back on the field this season.
 

     How much more would another half-year or more away from the punishing rigors of the game benefit his recovery?
 

     It appears these are all questions Bruschi is trying to answer as the sixth game approaches.
 

      Officially, the Pats have a bye week after the sixth game, which is a road game in Denver, before resuming with a home game with Buffalo.
 

     Along the way, Bruschi has provided valuable insight and assistance to linebackers Monty Beisel and Chad Brown in particular. In between working out and keeping in shape, Bruschi has done his best to get them acclimated to the system.
 

     ``I see things, and I can communicate them well, and that's where I am right now with the team,'' Bruschi said earlier this month.
 

     That's not where he wants to be. The question is, will that role change this year, or next?

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Tedy, sooner than later? Eager Bruschi mum on return

 

Docs vary on LB return
By Jessica Heslam
Friday, September 30, 2005 - Updated: 03:32 AM EST

The prognosis is mixed among Hub doctors on whether Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi should return to the field.
 

     Bruschi, 32, has said he plans to sit out this season after he suffered a mild stroke last February and underwent a procedure to close a hole in his heart the following month. Few details have been released about the type of procedure the linebacker underwent and how severely the stroke affected him.
 

     Dr. Viken Babikian, a neurologist at Boston Medical Center, said he encourages stroke patients to exercise regularly, but playing in the National Football League is another story.
 

     ``My own gut feeling is that is probably pushing it a little too far,'' Babikian said of the prospect of Bruschi ever playing in the NFL again.
 

     If a surgical device called an Amplatzer PFO Occluder was used to plug the hole in Bruschi's heart, playing football shouldn't be a risk to the heart, said Dr. David Thaler, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Tufts-New England Medical Center.
 

     ``Bouncing around on a football field should not have an impact on whether the device stays in place,'' Thaler said.
 

     If Bruschi has no neurologic deficits, had the hole closed up with a PFO and isn't on blood thinners, Thaler said he doesn't see a ``likely medical risk'' if Bruschi plays football this season. Waiting a year to play wouldn't make a difference, given those stipulations, Thaler said.

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Docs vary on LB return

Not done yet? Tedy's helmet shows wear
By Rich Garven (Worcester) Telegram & Gazette staff
rgarven@telegram.com

Oct. 7, 2005


FOXBORO- The silver helmet hangs on the right side of the locker by its red face mask. Small decals of the Nos. 5 and 4 are attached to the back, indicating its owner.


At the start of last month, the helmet was all shiny and unblemished. Just as one would expect of a player who isn't practicing.
So why then is Tedy Bruschi's helmet suddenly showing signs of wear and tear?


A look at it yesterday revealed the "Flying Elvis" on the right side had a slight rip in it. On top were numerous red skid marks, the kind that commonly result around here from coming in contact with a teammate's face mask.


Patriots spokesman Stacey James said with unequivocal certainty Bruschi has not been practicing with the Patriots. However, he could not confirm whether Bruschi has been attending practice as a spectator.


James said he attends the first 30 minutes of each practice, which is when it's open to selected media members. One reporter who unfailingly attends practice said he has never spotted Bruschi during those open viewing sessions.


Left unspoken is what takes place behind closed doors.


Bruschi is on the physically unable to perform list as a result of a stroke suffered in February. The Pro Bowl linebacker stated last month he would sit out this season, but offered a "no comment" last week when asked about the chance of his returning this season.


As a player on the PUP list, Bruschi is allowed to attend meetings and train at the team's facility - which he has been doing. He cannot practice with his teammates.


Bruschi has a 21-day window during which he can return to practice after the sixth game of the season. Should he start practicing, the Patriots have 21 days to activate him or place him on the injured reserve, which would officially eliminate his returning.


It's worth noting Bruschi may have two helmets. Who, after all, would risk having a helmet crack during a game and not have a backup?


If that's the case, that shiny and unblemished helmet may very well be stored someplace. But it doesn't explain the beat-up look of the helmet hanging in Bruschi's locker yesterday.
 

 

Displaying a brave front

Patriots linebackers find themselves in unfamiliar territory

By Lynn DeBruin, Rocky Mountain News
October 13, 2005

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - His silver helmet, smudged with red from some past collision, still hangs outside his locker.

Shoulder pads are visible on the top shelf, and every week a new defensive playbook, replete with information about the upcoming game, is placed in his stall.

While Tedy Bruschi looks more fit than ever and smiles broadly as he walks through the New England Patriots locker room, it remains to be seen when - or if - he can return from the mild stroke he suffered in February.

Those close to Bruschi say it's simply a matter of when - at least in the linebacker's mind. But his wife, Heidi, doctors and team officials also will have a say in the matter.

Bruschi's teammates simply await the final decision.

"I'll relish the time when I can play with Tedy again," linebacker Mike Vrabel said. "I don't know when that's going to be."

Across the locker room, former University of Colorado standout Chad Brown can't worry about things he can't control.

The Highlands Ranch resident, who will be back in his home state Sunday when the Patriots play the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High, has enough to handle on his own.

With Bruschi's unexpected absence and the July retirement of linebacker Ted Johnson, another former CU standout, it's up to Brown and Monty Beisel to pick up the load at middle linebacker.

"I had an opportunity to play other places, but this one was probably the most challenging," said Brown, who is playing a different style of defense and lining up in a position (inside linebacker) he hasn't played in 10 years.

"This was my 13th year in the league," he said, "and I said I could take the easy road or challenge myself, so I decided to challenge myself."

With that, Brown laughed.

"Some days I think, 'You know, it could have been easier,' " he said. "It's human nature to look back a little, but I can't. I made my decision to come here, play for a great team, a great organization, and I have to do my part."

Brown, 35, describes his play so far as "a work in progress" and admits he still finds himself thinking as an outside linebacker would.

"I don't think I played as well as I could (in a 41-17 loss against San Diego in Week 4). So that's a definite disappointment, but we didn't play well as a team.

"I expect the team to improve throughout the season. There's lots of football, lots of time for me to get better."

That's true for the Patriots defense as a whole.

Entering the game against the Broncos, the Patriots defense is ranked 22nd overall, 29th in points allowed (27.2), tied for 26th in takeaways (three total) and last in red-zone defense (having allowed opponents 11 touchdowns and four field goals in 15 trips inside the 20).

"So far, we've played well at times and played poorly at times, but we're still looking for that consistent effort," said Beisel, who, like Brown, signed with New England as a free agent this spring.

Also like Beisel, Brown knows the shoes he's stepping into are huge.

"It's difficult to replace two legends, two heroes, because in the hero-ification process, people tend to forget the mistakes and remember only the positive," Brown said. "You can't fill those shoes, because they've become larger than life. I can only do my job as best I can. To attempt to be those guys would be foolish."

Outside linebacker Willie McGinest agrees, but he expects Brown to make strides.

"He's been in this league longer than me. He's done a lot of good things. He just has to feel his way, learn the system here," McGinest said. "And Monty's feeling his way, too.

"Any time you come into a new system, you're going to make some mistakes. It's going to be a little different. But after a while, they'll grasp it. It will be all right. But never do we say, 'You need to do this like Tedy or Ted.' "

There is a chance Bruschi will be doing those things himself soon enough.

Though he stated emphatically this summer he would not return until the 2006 season, earlier this month he issued a simple "no comment" when asked by a Boston Herald reporter about a possible return this season.

An ESPN report last week confirmed Bruschi is contemplating his return but indicated Patriots owner Bob Kraft would be "very reluctant" to sign off on any return to the playing field in 2005, even if the linebacker receives medical clearance.

For now, Bruschi is on the physically unable to perform list, which, technically, would allow him to practice and be activated at some point after the sixth game of the season.

Those closest to Bruschi know he has more than just himself to think about, as evidenced by the photo of his family pinned to his locker.

"That's what is all-important to everybody in here," Vrabel said, "that you make the decision that's in the best interest of your family."

Rocky Mountain News: Broncos

 

Bruschi To Return To Practice Soon

Steve Burton
Reporting


(CBS4) BOSTON There's a lot we don't know yet about Tedy Bruschi's football future, but this we can guarantee.

Number 54 will be back on the practice field with the Patriots in the next three weeks and sources tell CBS4's Steve Burton that he's hopeful to return to action this season.

Bruschi is eligible to come off the "physically unable to perform" list after week six, meaning next Monday.

Monday is the first day of a three week window for him to "start" practicing with the team. Of course, he'll need full medical clearance before he returns to practice and will need to pass the same conditioning tests that all the players pass before the start of training camp.

From his first day of practice -- which could be Monday or could be later -- he has three more weeks to practice, and for him and the team to decide whether he will either be activated or put on injured reserve for the rest of the year.

After suffering a stroke in February, Bruschi has been with the team since training camp started in late July -- working out, but not practicing, attending meetings and studying the playbook. And he's been on the sidelines for the team's two home games.

Tedy's mood is said to be upbeat . He's excited about the opportunity to get back on the practice field and figure out if he'll be able to play again this year.
 

CBS4 Boston - New England's Source For Breaking News, Weather, and Sports for Boston, Worcester, Cape Cod, Nashua, and More: Bruschi To Return To Practice Soon

Bruschi no given: Source: Return faces obstacles
By Karen Guregian/ Patriots Notebook
Friday, October 14, 2005 - Updated: 01:42 AM EST

FOXBORO - The wheels are still turning on a return for Tedy Bruschi this season, but road blocks remain.

Bruschi can return to the practice field as early as Monday. That's when the Patriots linebacker is eligible to come off the ``physically unable to perform'' list.

The Herald last month reported that Bruschi, who suffered a minor stroke in February, was exploring the possibility of making a return this season, as opposed to his stated goal of next year. Ch. 4's Steve Burton last night reaffirmed that claim, going as far as to guarantee Bruschi would be back on the practice field in the next three weeks.

A source familiar with the situation said that what is apparent to the casual observer - that Bruschi is itching to play - is accurate. But that doesn't mean Bruschi's return is anymore certain.

``I think that he's gearing up to play, but I don't know if (owner) Robert Kraft is gearing up for him to play. I don't know if (Kraft Group lawyer) Richard Kareliez is gearing up for him to play,'' said the source. ``Everyone is still waiting for that shoe to drop.''

Sources say that Kraft insisted Bruschi see a certain set of specialists this week, Bruschi agreed, and word is, the assessment of those doctors was positive.

Still, there figure to be reams of legal work in terms of waivers, liability and insurance issues to play before Bruschi returns. The status of those issues is not known.

``It's a much bigger jigsaw puzzle than Tedy thinks,'' said the source.

Given the legal aspect, it appears unlikely Bruschi would be on the practice field Monday.

The Herald requested to speak with Kraft last week about the Bruschi issue, but was turned down by the Patriots owner.

To this point, Bruschi has been working out, attending meetings, studying the playbook and offering advice to teammates. He hasn't travelled with the team, but has been on the sidelines for home games.

Under the PUP rules, Bruschi has a three-week window in which to return to practice. Once he starts practicing, the Patriots have 21 days to decide whether to put him on the active roster or injured reserve.

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Bruschi no given: Source: Return faces obstacles

Tedy Just Might Be Ready
Bruschi Won't Deny That Return This Year Is Possible
By ALAN GREENBERG
Courant Staff Writer

October 14 2005

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots Pro Bowl linebacker Tedy Bruschi, one of the team's inspirational leaders and playmakers, might be coming back. This year.

Granted, it's hardly a sure thing. Though Bruschi has been working out and attending team meetings at Patriots headquarters and would like to play this season, his doctors, his wife, Heidi, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft have yet to give him their permission. There are legal and ethical concerns.

Bruschi had a mild stroke in mid-February. Except for a lengthy interview he gave to a Boston Globe columnist in late July, in which he said he would not play this season, Bruschi has declined all interview requests.

But Thursday, as Bruschi strode briskly across the Patriots' dressing room and headed for a room that is off-limits to the media, he was asked:

"Is there any chance you will play football for the Patriots this season?"

Bruschi did not scowl at the question. Instead, a trace of a smile crossed his face. As he spoke, there appeared to be a twinkle in his brown eyes.

"I'm not going to comment on that," he said.

It isn't so much what Bruschi said. It's what he didn't say.

He didn't say "no."

Asked the same question a few minutes earlier, coach Bill Belichick wouldn't say "no" either.

"As I've said from the start, any comments would have to come from Tedy," Belichick said. "To me, nothing has changed. I'm not going to comment on that."

Bruschi, 32, was stricken 10 days after the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville and 48 hours after returning from Hawaii, where he had played in his first Pro Bowl.

In March, Bruschi underwent surgery at a Boston hospital to have a hole in his heart repaired. Doctors say that is the most likely cause when young and otherwise healthy people have a stroke.

When training camp opened July 28, the Patriots placed Bruschi on their physically unable to perform list (PUP), where he remains.

"Don't read anything into that," Belichick said at the time.

Any player on that list at the start of the regular season can return after the sixth game - unlike injured reserve, which means a player is out for the year.

The Patriots (3-2) play their sixth game Sunday at Denver (4-1). When the sixth game is over, a player who was on the PUP list is eligible to begin practicing with his team any time in the next 21 days. From the day he resumes practice during that 21-day window, his team has another 21 days to activate him, place him on IR or release him.

The Patriots have a bye next week. On Oct. 30, they face the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. It's possible that Bruschi could be eligible for that game.

That Bruschi remains on the PUP list strongly suggests that Belichick wanted to leave open the possibility that Bruschi could play for the Patriots this season. Of course, should Belichick decide to place Bruschi on injured reserve, the suspense will be over.

Bruschi, who sometimes walks bare-chested through the dressing room, has no scars suggesting that doctors had to open his chest to repair his heart.

Dr. Paul Thompson, 58, director of the Athletes' Heart Program at Hartford Hospital and a marathoner himself, said Thursday it's likely that Bruschi's doctors used a catheter to insert a small clamshell-shaped device to cover the hole in his heart.

"If the doctors haven't found clots [on the inserted device], he doesn't need to be on a blood-thinner and his risk is extremely low," Thompson said. "I would tend to be on the discouraging side, but I don't have the facts. We don't know about these devices as they pertain to football players. ... It's pretty clear that they have looked at it carefully and have not found clotting. The heart has grown over [the device]."

"I could have died," Bruschi told the Globe in July. "The doctor told me that. If the clot was a couple of millimeters in a different direction, I might not be sitting here."

But Bruschi, who has three young sons, looks and acts like the same lively, sharp-witted guy he was before the stroke, which temporarily resulted in numbness, headaches, loss of balance and a restricted field of vision.

"I need to do what's best for my family and myself," Bruschi said in July. "There's a difference between living life normally and being fine and getting ready for a professional football season. I need the year to get myself ready. I considered playing this year. We talked about it a lot. But this is something you don't rush. It's not a sprained ankle. This is my medical health, and although I'm feeling great right now, I've been told by my doctors some time will help. It will help medically, but it will also help me deal with it mentally. I think I've healed faster physically than emotionally."

Three months later, perhaps he has reconsidered.
Copyright 2005, Hartford Courant

courant.com | Tedy Just Might Be Ready

 

Bruschi Out On The Pats' Practice Field
(CBS4) FOXBORO Bruschi has been out on the practice field with the team for the past week-and-a-half. Because he is still on the “Physically Unable To Perform,” or “PUP” list, he can’t practice in a full practice, meaning drills, defensive team work or scout teams, but the rules do allow for him to be out there doing his own conditioning work while the team is practicing.
He can run, ride the bike, even work out in full pads. The goal, obviously, is for him to be as well conditioned as possible when he returns to the practice field.
We’ve known that he’s been around the team, in meetings, getting a playbook every week, but this is the first we’ve heard about Bruschi being on the practice field.
Two more important facts, Bruschi has the blessing of his wife, Heidi, as he prepares to return to practice. He also has been cleared to practice by several doctors who are “not” affiliated with the team.
Their opinion is that while Bruschi has a greater risk of suffering a stroke than his teammates, simply because he already has that history, that risk is not increased by playing football.
(© MMV, CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
http://cbs4boston.com/topstories/local_story_287164215.html
 

Bruschi will try to return
After checking with doctors, linebacker confirms bye week is perfect time
By Jackie MacMullan, Globe Staff | October 15, 2005


Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who has been sidelined since suffering a stroke Feb. 15, confirmed last night he will attempt to make a return to football this season, beginning with the team's bye week following tomorrow's game in Denver.

''I've quadruple-checked [with the doctors]," Bruschi said. ''And the bye week is the perfect time to see where we are."

Bruschi declined to elaborate on his change of heart to return sooner than he orginally planned, saying he will discuss his plans and his physical status with the media sometime next week.

In an exclusive interview with the Globe Sept. 1, Bruschi described in detail how he suffered a stroke in his home following his return from the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Bruschi awoke at 4 a.m. feeling numbness on his left side and a dull pain in his neck. He went back to sleep and awoke several hours later with the same symptoms, as well as unsteadiness and a loss of peripheral vision.

He was rushed by ambulance to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was immediately diagnosed as a stroke victim. Bruschi said doctors believed the stroke was the result of a blood clot that traveled through a small hole in his heart. The harrowing ordeal initially left him without vision out of his left eye and unable to walk without assistance. Those frightening symptoms have long since subsided, and Bruschi declared himself fit during the September interview. Yet Bruschi also ruled out a return to football during the 2005 season, saying, ''I need time. I think I've healed faster physically than I have emotionally."

Asked at that juncture if he would entertain thoughts of a return this season, Bruschi said, ''I'm telling you right now that's not going to happen. I need to do what's best for my family and myself.

''There's a difference between living life normally and being fine and getting ready for a professional football season. I need the year to get myself ready."

Asked about those comments last night, Bruschi said simply, ''Things change. What I said at the time was 100 percent accurate."

As for reports Patriots owner Robert Kraft would not allow Bruschi to attempt a comeback this season, the linebacker said, ''I don't want to speak for Robert Kraft. All I can tell you is he has been 100 percent supportive from Day 1, and that hasn't changed."

Sources close to the Patriots and Bruschi said that while Kraft has concerns about Bruschi's decision to attempt to return this season, he has pledged his support for his player and has stressed the ultimate decision whether to play or not remains Bruschi's.

When Bruschi approached Kraft about returning sooner than planned, sources said, the Patriots' owner contacted a host of specialists throughout the country and made them available to Bruschi, in addition to the team's medical staff.

Said a source, ''Robert Kraft's concern here is for Tedy Bruschi the person, not Tedy Bruschi the football player. Having said that, he knows it's not his call. Only Tedy can determine his own outcome."

Kraft could not be reached for comment late last night.

Bruschi has been diligently training for months, doing agility work and strength training, but, he said last night, no contact drills with the team.

Although there are no guarantees how his body will respond to the trauma it has incurred, or how Bruschi's conditioning has been affected by his ordeal, the linebacker has been itching to return to a team that has struggled defensively because of a number of key injuries. The Patriots are 3-2 and have tried to make do without Bruschi, linebacker Ted Johnson (who abruptly retired just before the season started), safety Rodney Harrison (out for the year with a knee injury), Randall Gay, Tyrone Poole, and, most recently, defensive end Richard Seymour.

Bruschi was the heart and soul of a defense that won three Super Bowls in four years. His emotional presence in the locker room and his big-play abilities have been sorely missed.

During the Sept. 1 interview, Bruschi said his doctors ''could not find a reason why I couldn't play." Although the origin of the clot or the cause was never determined, Bruschi said he underwent a procedure in March to repair the small hole in his heart.

His rehabilitation included extensive physical therapy at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Boston, where he literally learned how to walk again. Bruschi, who was told he could have died, has since become a spokesman for the American Stroke Association in hopes of highlighting the need to get to a hospital as soon as stroke symptoms are identified.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick declined to comment during his regular media session yesterday on the possibility of Bruschi returning.

Bruschi will try to return - The Boston Globe

Bruschi push builds: LB pressing for swift return
By Karen Guregian
Saturday, October 15, 2005 - Updated: 08:13 AM EST


Rumors continue to swirl, and the momentum continues to build toward Tedy Bruschi making a return this season, just eight months after the 32-year-old linebacker suffered a mild stroke.

Bruschi, in fact, confirmed to the Globe last night what the Herald reported on Sept. 30 - that he will attempt to resume his career when he becomes eligible next week.

Amid all the talk, speculation, and conjecture, however, the bottom line hasn't changed. While an eager Bruschi is certainly angling for a swifter comeback than originally planned - one broadcast report yesterday had him already out on the practice field for the past week-and-a-half - there is still a ways to go before his wish becomes a reality.

While Bruschi has received encouraging medical reports, including a positive report from a specialist Robert Kraft requested he visit this week, it's not believed he's gotten has final medical clearance.

There are also other factors that still need to be addressed, namely all of the legal issues with regard to waivers, liability and insurance. That bridge has also not been crossed, as of yet.

When and if those concerns are satisfied will determine whether or not Bruschi dons his helmet and shoulder pads for real this season.

The Herald made a request yesterday to speak with the Patriots owner about the Bruschi situation. Kraft, however, was said to be unavailable for comment.

The Patriots linebacker and inspirational leader is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list after Week 6, which means Tuesday, not Monday as originally reported. That's when he can technically get back on the field and take part in full practice.

Under the guidelines of the PUP, Bruschi will have a three-week window in which to return to practice. Once he resumes practicing, the Patriots have 21 days to decide whether to put him on the active roster, or injured reserve.

``I see him working out in the weight room,'' said one Patriots player last night, who didn't wish to be identified, ``but I haven't seen him out on the field during practice. Not at all.''

Meanwhile, in Foxboro earlier in the day, coach Bill Belichick deferred all inquiries about Bruschi to the player himself.

``I've said all I have to say on the situation. If Tedy has anything to say, I'm sure he's perfectly capable of saying it himself,'' Belichick remarked during his daily press briefing. ``I have nothing to add to that situation whatsoever. Zero. Any comments should come from Tedy . . . nothing has changed from the last time I talked to you (the media) or any comments that I've made. Nothing has changed.''

Bruschi told the Globe that he would discuss his plans and physical status with the media sometime next week.

Bruschi's teammates voiced support, no matter if he returns this season, next season, or not at all.

``Any team could use any good player, and Tedy Bruschi is a good player, so if he wants to come back, that's great,'' Rosevelt Colvin said.
 

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Bruschi push builds: LB pressing for swift return

BOB RYAN
Bruschi going by his own playbook

By Bob Ryan | October 16, 2005

Tedy Bruschi intends to play professional football again, and we should not be surprised. How many times do we need to be reminded that for 99 percent of our high-level athletes, the operative explanation of their very essence is, ''Once a player, always a player"?

And Bruschi is most definitely a football player.

He is such a highly unusual player that the Patriots are not, and could never be, the same without him. For Bruschi brings more to the team than mere statistics. Someone else could be found to make tackles from the linebacker position. But no one will ever be found to make Tedy Bruschi tackles, or force Tedy Bruschi fumbles or make Tedy Bruschi interceptions.

As Bill Belichick has pointed out on many occasions, Bruschi is that rare player who combines talent with unteachable instincts. There is a reason Bruschi has made so many key plays as the Patriots have established themselves as the gold standard team of the early 21st century. But no one can explain what that reason is. It just is.

The physical part, the intensity part, the knock-the-snot-out-of-them part, we have seen before. Every good football team, at every level, is populated with aggressive young men who like to hit people. Millions of fans who like to watch violent people hitting people would not care to either hit or be hit themselves. They are much happier sitting 20 rows up on the 39-yard line. The Tedy Bruschis of the world find sitting 20 rows up on the 39-yard line torturous. They are only happy when they are producing those hits, not observing them.

So Bruschi wants to play and now has expressed his intention of doing so ASAP. The question, of course, is should he? Should his wishes be ignored? Should someone step in to save Bruschi from himself?

Talk about a tough, involved call. None of us has anything to go on here. How many times in NFL history has a stroke victim attempted to return to action eight months later? I believe the answer is never.

What sane person wouldn't be nervous about this? We know for sure that the Krafts sure are. This is not something they wished to deal with any earlier than next season, if ever. We're not talking about a knee or ankle or shoulder or heart murmur or even a concussion or two. We are talking about one of the most chilling words in our medical terminology. What family hasn't been touched by the dreaded word ''stroke"? Strokes are nasty. Strokes are very troubling. I don't know about you, but a stroke would rank right near the top of the list of my own personal nightmares.

And that's what happened to 32-year-old Tedy Bruschi. For whatever heart-related reason, he had a stroke.

Bruschi is telling us he wouldn't be attempting this quick comeback if he hadn't been assured by medical authorities that he is not placing himself at risk for another stroke by playing football. The first thing that comes to mind is, has he been shopping around to find the medical declaration he wants to hear, as opposed to the one he should hear? It's a question that must be asked, and I'm certain the Krafts have been asking it. They are not naive. They know how much Bruschi loves to play football, and that he will do just about anything to make that happen.

Of course, all this is, technically, none of our business. It is not media business and it is not fan business. This is a matter between Tedy Bruschi and his family, which begins with his wife, Heidi. Again, Bruschi is assuring us he would never attempt anything like this if he didn't have her approval. Who are we to challenge him on this matter?

It is, however, team business. The Krafts are apprehensive because they are caring people who love and respect Bruschi and because there is an obvious liability issue. We must presume that one condition of any comeback is Bruschi signing a waiver absolving the Patriots of any responsibility if something goes terribly wrong. I'm sure they would feel villainous asking for it, but what real choice would they have?

One person who has not indicated his feelings about all this is Belichick. Whatever his personal feelings about Bruschi, and we can rightfully speculate that if the ol' coach were ever going to get a bit weepy over a player, it would be Bruschi, the mentor is first, last, and always a guardian of the complete team interest. Bruschi will get no special consideration from Belichick. He will be judged on his current ability to carry out his duties, not on what he did to help win three Super Bowls. Competence will decide Bruschi's fate, not sentiment.

That will be perfectly acceptable to Bruschi. He knows that the Belichick world is a meritocracy. That kind of thinking is what allowed Bruschi to establish himself in the first place. He was not a prime prospect. He was a positionless player who fought, scratched, and hit his way onto the team, and who needed to prove himself over and over before he was elevated from a bit player to a primary player. If first impressions had prevailed, Bruschi would have remained a special teams player.

He wants to play because he feels unfulfilled without playing. He may also be at least a wee bit motivated by the fact that he is so badly missed and the team has, by its own lofty standards, struggled so badly. Would he be as determined to come back now if the team were 5-0, as opposed to 3-2, with a quite reasonable expectation of being 3-3 by this evening?

We don't know for sure, but it is a very reasonable thought. Bruschi wants to go hit someone again and he wants to be part of the Patriots again, and who knows where one stops and the other begins? Perhaps not even Bruschi.

Tedy Bruschi would make the Krafts, most of the fans, and the media who have covered him and who have come to respect and admire him much more comfortable if he held off until next season before attempting any comeback. Many among us wish he would abandon the whole idea and become the productive private citizen he is capable of being. But let no one wonder why he is doing this.

Once a player, always a player. And Tedy Bruschi is a player's player.

Bruschi going by his own playbook - The Boston Globe

Sunday, October 16, 2005
By CHRIS KENNEDY
ckennedy@repub.com

It was always a strange move, putting Tedy Bruschi on the physically unable to perform list rather than just injured reserve.

Red flags went up immediately, questions were asked. Why not just put the guy on injured reserve, which means he is done for the season? Why leave him on a list that defers a roster move for six to 12 weeks?

As often is the case in Foxboro, those questions were brushed aside or ignored.

Bruschi is about to provide all the answers. The New England Patriots linebacker is set to climb back through that window which was left open for him to return. The Boston Globe reported Bruschi himself confirmed he will attempt to resume his career later this week when he becomes eligible to do so.

Prior to the start of training camp, Bruschi said in a statement released through the team that he would not play in 2006 as he recovered from a minor stroke suffered last February. More recently, however, he has offered a no comment rather than a no when asked if he might return sooner.

Players who are unable to start training camp are often placed on the physically unable to perform list or PUP. They can be removed during training camp, but once the season starts, they must sit out the first six games before returning. The Patriots play their sixth game today at Denver and are off next week.

A return during the team's bye week allows Bruschi to ease back into the flow. It also allows the team to see where he stands after spending much of the last few months working out and attending defensive meetings. New England hosts Buffalo on Sunday, Oct.30.

Bruschi can actually reenter practice anytime over the next three weeks. Once he returns, he can practice for 21 days before the team must make some sort of decision on his future, either activating him to the 53-man roster or placing him on injured reserve. He cannot play in a game until he is activated to the 53-man roster.

The Patriots are 3-2 entering today's game and have struggled to overcome the losses of inside linebackers Bruschi and Ted Johnson, as well as defensive backs Ty Law and Rodney Harrison. They are averaging more than 27 points per game, about 11 more than last season.

Bruschi's ability to make the big play has been missed on a team which has made only one interception in five games after finishing last season with 20. He also played an important role on special teams, which might be a way for him to work his way back into game shape.
 

Bruschi verifies plans to return

October 15, 2005
Bruschi Should Be Prudent And Not Proud
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net


DENVER -- Penny for Heidi Bruschi’s thoughts.

None of your business, Bob G. I knew that was coming. And that’s a good and proper way to put it. This whole thing is nobody’s business but Tedy Bruschi’s and his family’s.

Bruschi, slated to come off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list on Monday, plans to resume practicing with the team at that time. This story, which has been broken by several area columnists who try and claim exclusivity (which means the world to the authors but nothing to the rest of us; as long as you get the story, who cares who gives it to you first?), has provided a neat little sidebar to what should be a difficult test for the Patriots on Sunday at Invesco Field at Mile High here in Denver. With the 3-2 Patriots facing a stiff test against the 4-1 Denver Broncos, all everyone is talking about is the seemingly imminent return of the heart and soul of the Patriot defense, felled by a minor stroke in February shortly after the Pro Bowl in Honolulu

As this story has developed, some similarities have come out which compare it to Terrell Owens’s leg injury late in the 2004 regular season, an injury which nearly kept him out of Super Bowl XXXIX. The bottom line is that Bruschi, according to reports, has progressed at a faster rate than he thought, and the Patriot linebacker, who had once said that he would definitely not play until 2006, now wants to make a go of it in 2005.

What happens to Bruschi is not totally within his control. This column questioned the Philadelphia Eagles allowing Owens to play in the Super Bowl absent of doctor clearance. The opinion here was that if Owens suffered a debilitating, or even career-ending injury, Owens would sue the Eagles for permitting him to play even though he himself provided the impetus for him to play. The lawsuit would be based on recovery of potential lost wages, and the claim would be that the Eagles “should have ordered him not to play”.

This explains why Bob Kraft has consulted his legal services department for guidance in this matter. If Bruschi is allowed by the owner to play, Bruschi may have to sign a waiver indemnifying the team from any claims against them if Bruschi suffers any further injury or trauma related to his stroke. This is the sort of action the Eagles did not do regarding Owens, and fortunately (for the Eagles) Owens was not seriously injured in the 24-21 loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl in February.

Furthermore, it has not been reported that Bruschi has received official clearance to resume playing or practicing. A Globe report on Saturday stops short of naming any doctor who will personally go on the record and say that Bruschi can resume normal activity. All the report says is that Bruschi “quadruple-checked” with his doctors, and that “the bye week (the Patriots have next weekend off) is the perfect time to see where we are”.

So, Heidi, if you would like my opinion, here it is. Tell hubby to wait until 2006.

When news of the stroke first broke, Patriot Nation gasped, worried and prayed. Not one single solitary soul said anything to the effect of “Oh, (expletive), there goes our season!” The first concerns were along the line of “He needs to be there for his family”, “He needs to preserve his quality of life”, and “No Super Bowl championship is more important than his life”. Those concerns remain unchanged.

Most fans out there will never understand what drives an NFL player. They don’t know the competitive fires that burn within each player, what drives them to play through adversity and pain and debilitation. They don’t know the players personally. All they see is what they see on the field, either live at the stadium or on their television. In this case, they see a linebacker who has risen to the heights of popularity because of his hard style of play, affectionately nicknamed “Full Tilt, Full Time”.

Simply stated, none of us are inside Bruschi’s head. Nobody will understand why Bruschi is pushing the envelope on his return to the NFL. There are still a lot of fans out there who would rather Bruschi retire completely, and only because of concerns for his health versus concerns over his play. His play was All-Pro level in 2004, and he is still in his prime. This underscores the concern for his retirement being solely based on his health and his being able to be there for his family for the long haul.

Nothing exists which would make a Bruschi return an “awesome event”. The Patriots are banged up all over the place but sit currently at 3-2 as they end up this very difficult first six weeks of their schedule (in 2003, they were 2-2 and then ran the table). Nothing out there screams out for a Bruschi return to “save the season”. The Patriots have prided themselves over the last few seasons on being able to win no matter who is injured. While there have been minor concerns over the supposed lack of run defense, only LaDainian Tomlinson has gorged them for more than 100 yards rushing, and he happens to be the top back in the league.

This may turn out to be the story of an athlete whose machismo won out over common sense. Bruschi, who according to reports has been working out at an astounding pace in the workout room, has bulked up incredibly and believes that he is in proper shape to get back into game action. He had surgery to repair a congenital hole in his heart. He believes wholeheartedly that whatever caused the stroke is under control, even though the source of the blood clot was never found.

So many times we are presented with life and death scenarios in professional sports where you the fan sit back and think to yourself, “Gosh, does this put things in perspective!” You have the death of Korey Stringer, Doug Flutie’s son and his autism, Boomer Esiason and his son’s battle with cystic fibrosis, Jim Kelly suffering through the death of his child, and so on. Bruschi’s stroke is very much in this category, and it cannot be understated that an awful lot of Patriot fans in February feared the worst when news of this stroke came out.

That is mainly why Bruschi should concentrate solely on getting better and what’s best for he and his family, and not what is best for the Patriots. If anything should happen to Bruschi because of this comeback, no matter how brave or committed to football he is trying to be, it would be too high a price for his family to pay.

And nobody, but nobody, needs the Patriots to win so badly that they would want it to come at any cost. Championships are nice, but not at the expense of one man’s life. Not now, not ever.
 

Bruschi Should Be Prudent And Not Proud

PRO FOOTBALL: Motivated Bruschi can’t stand pat
By ERIC McHUGH
The Patriot Ledge
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FOXBORO - The travel bags were strewn across the locker room floor, almost ready to be piled onto buses for the ride to the airport and a flight to Denver Saturday. Most of his teammates already had their pads and jerseys on and were headed off to practice.

Linebacker Mike Vrabel was running a little behind Friday.

In a way, it was the perfect time to talk about being left behind.

The greatest fear of any NFL player is that the show will roll on without him, that the guys will head for the proverbial door and he’ll be sitting there alone, unable to come out and play anymore.

It happens to everyone eventually.

Either they get old or they get hurt. Sometimes both.

Vrabel, no longer a young pup at 30, can see the day coming, but he swears he’ll be OK with it.

‘‘I’ve had friends who had to leave this game, sometimes not on their terms,’’ Vrabel said. ‘‘A friend from college, he struggled with it a little bit. (But) I really think that when it’s time for me to go, whether that’s from injury or skill depletion, if that’s the right phrase, I’ll be comfortable with it.

‘‘Having been (in the NFL) for nine years, you’re dealing with borrowed time. You’ve beaten the odds. I think I’ll be comfortable with whatever happens. I think I’ll be comfortable enough to walk away from the game.’’

Sure, that’s what they all say now.

When the time comes, though, it’s not so easy.

Just ask Tedy Bruschi.

His locker sits just down the row from Vrabel’s. Bruschi wasn’t there on Friday, but he’s been a regular visitor in the locker room lately. That has led to speculation, which now has become fact.

A source Friday confirmed that Bruschi indeed will attempt to play this season, eight months after suffering a mild stroke at his home in February.

With a wife and three young sons who love him, and a bank account that must be filled to the brim and could be replenished at any time - think of all the endorsements and/or TV gigs Bruschi could score tomorrow if he so desired - the question for the New England Patriots’ most popular linebacker is this:

Why?

Why risk so much by coming back early when just last month you were adamant in telling The Boston Globe’s Jackie MacMullan that no way, no how, no sir, would you be suiting up in 2005?

To refresh everyone’s memory, here’s Bruschi’s quote from back then:

‘‘I need to do what’s best for my family and myself. There’s a difference between living normally and being fine, and getting ready for a professional football season. I need the year to get myself ready.

‘‘I considered playing this season. We talked about it a lot. But this is something that you don’t rush. It’s not a sprained ankle. This is my medical health, and although I’m feeling great right now, I’ve also been told by my doctors some time will help. It will help medically, but it will also help me deal with it mentally. I think I’ve healed faster physically than I have emotionally.’’

So, what happened?

Here’s what happened:

Patriots 30, Raiders 20.

Panthers 27, Patriots 17.

Patriots 23, Steelers 20.

Chargers 41, Patriots 17.

Patriots 31, Falcons 28.

That’s four Sunday afternoons and one Thursday night of football. Five games that Tedy Bruschi will never get back. If he stayed the old course, there would have been at least 11 more to sit out this season, starting with Sunday’s trip to Denver.

You think this has been easy for Bruschi? You and I might counsel him to go slow, to take his time. But then that wouldn’t fit the on-field Bruschi whom we’ve all come to know and love. That guy’s a whirling dervish, a Tasmanian devil in cleats.

To him, football is a blast.

It’s also addictive.

‘‘The adrenaline is unbelievable,’’ former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson - who had to pull the plug on his own career on the eve of training camp this summer - said on WEEI radio Friday. ‘‘It’s overwhelming. It’s almost like a drug. It really is.

‘‘If you’ve got a taste of success - personal or team-wise - and you don’t have that anymore, you want it back.’’

Bruschi kicked the bottle a few years ago, so he knows the reward of dropping something that feels good but isn’t good for you. But what if this isn’t the same thing? Who, other than his doctors, can say whether taking an extra 10 months - to next year’s training camp - would have any appreciable effect on his heart?

Only the doctors know for sure, and they still have to give him medical clearance to play again.

All we know is that Bruschi is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list on Monday. The Patriots have a three-week window to get him out on the practice field. Once he starts practicing, they have three weeks to decide whether to activate him or stash him on injured reserve for the rest of the season and try again in 2006.

Judging from his numerous appearances in the locker room lately, conditioning won’t be a problem for Bruschi, who has looked fit and trim and happy. As colleague Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant put it, that twinkle in Bruschi’s eye is definitely there.

You wondered if it would be back. Or, when he finally took the field, would there be a little voice in his head asking, ‘‘Are you sure you want to do this?’’

Johnson knows all about those doubts. Plagued by concussions throughout his career, he finally had enough this offseason and threw in the towel, partly because he didn’t trust himself to give all of himself anymore.

‘‘I knew I was going to walk onto that field and I didn’t know if this next hit was going to be the last hit or what,’’ Johnson said on the radio. ‘‘If that sneaks into your mind at all, and if that’s in Tedy’s mind at all, I can’t imagine trying to overcome that.

‘‘It’s going to take a long time for that to go away.’’

The fact that Bruschi is compressing the time frame for his comeback would seem to indicate that he’s eager, rather than conflicted.

That’s good. But there are other factors here.

Has the stroke robbed him of his skills? Could he handle being 95 percent of the old Tedy Bruschi? How about 85 percent? Or 75 percent?

And how uncomfortable will it be for Monty Beisel and Chad Brown, one of whom - most likely Brown - would get bumped from the lineup in a best-case scenario?

On the latter issue, the Patriots don’t really care about feelings. This is a bottom-line team in a bottom-line business, and it’s hard to look at the Patriots defense right now and not see Bruschi’s potential return as a positive. Without him they are 29th in points allowed, dead last in the red zone and have forced only three turnovers.

So far, Beisel and Brown haven’t been Bruschi and Johnson. Far from it.

They will get better as time goes on. But as Vrabel can tell you, time is short.

The season isn’t quite slipping away.

Yet.

But if Bruschi wants to pitch in ...well, don’t expect anything any dissenting opinions.

‘‘Anybody we can get back to this football team at this point would help us, regardless of who it is,’’ Vrabel said. ‘‘Whoever we can have back, we’ll take back.’’

The Patriot Ledger at SouthofBoston.com

Statement from the New England Patriots

"The New England Patriots have been advised that Tedy Bruschi has received unanimous medical clearance from outside specialists in the field of stroke neurology. He has also passed multiple physical examinations by team doctors and has been cleared to resume practicing as early as this week. The Patriots organization is satisfied that Tedy Bruschi has received the best medical attention possible and has been assured that he is medically cleared to resume his playing career. Tedy Bruschi has worked very hard throughout his rehabilitation to return to full health and has been assured by all who have examined him that he has. With the necessary unanimous medical clearances to return, Tedy Bruschi and his family will make the final decision as to whether he returns to the field and begins practicing once again with the team. The Kraft family and the entire Patriots organization want only what is best for Tedy Bruschi and his family and will continue to support his decision."


Statement from Dr. David Greer, a renowned specialist in Stroke Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital

"I have had the opportunity to care for Tedy Bruschi since the day of his stroke eight months ago and have closely monitored his rehabilitation and remarkably rapid rate of recovery. Physically, Tedy is completely back to normal, and is exceptionally healthy. I have no doubt that he will be able to perform physically at a very high level. Tedy's safety, on and off the field, has always been our number one priority. At this time, I have advised him that, in my opinion, there are no medical reasons for him to delay his return to football. Tedy has asked me not to discuss these matters with the media further, and I will obviously honor that request."

 

Bruschi reassures fans over stroke decision
Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:12 PM ET
By Mike Shalin


FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Tedy Bruschi had a message Monday for New England Patriots fans worried about him returning to football just eight months after suffering a stroke.

"I can't express to them enough how we've (he and his wife, Heidi) had the same concerns," the 32-year-old linebacker said.

"I've had the same questions myself. We've gone through everything - that's why we've seen so many people.

"There's a man upstairs who says measure nine times and cut once, he's told me this throughout this process.

"We've measured a lot of times and I believe we've done that, made sure. We've checked and checked and checked and, OK, let's check another time. We wanted to be sure."

Bruschi could play in a game as soon as October 30 and he knows this was about more than football. "I mean, c'mon, I lost my sight," he said.

"One day you wake up, you can't see your sons very clearly anymore because you've had a stroke, you can't walk right.

"Two days before you played in a football game and now you can barely go down the steps. Two days before you're making tackles in the Pro Bowl and then all of a sudden your vision on your left side, you can't see your hand right here.

"It was a traumatic experience. It's been a long road back so I'm not just going to jump into something without being absolutely, 100 percent positive and I am."

Bruschi thanked those who have helped him on a rehabilitation road, including New England owner Robert Kraft.

He also said he been working with the American Stroke Association and has fielded letters from stroke victims of all ages. "I feel like I'm the face of stroke," he said.

Sports News Article | Reuters.com

Bruschi ready to get on the field
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network)
- New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi is ready to return to the field after recovering from a mild stroke suffered in February.

"I fully anticipate to practice Wednesday," said Bruschi at a news conference on Monday. "It's been a long road to rehabilitation -- mentally, physically, emotionally. It's been a rough road."

Bruschi suffered a stroke on February 16 and underwent subsequent surgery on his heart the following month. Since then he has been visiting doctors in an effort to gather information to see if a comeback this season is possible.

"The first month and a half of the year -- my third son was born, we win an AFC Championship, we win a Super Bowl, I go to a Pro Bowl. I come home and have a stroke. It's been a roller coaster. It's been a long way back and here I am," Bruschi continued.

The Patriots released an extensive statement on Bruschi's condition Sunday, saying he "has received unanimous medical clearance from outside specialists in the field of stroke neurology."

"We've made sure, we've checked and checked and checked, and let's check another time because we wanted to be sure," Bruschi added. "Every doctor and physician that has seen me has given me clearance. I have been cleared to play."

Still, there were questions about why Bruschi was coming back.

"I'm not just doing this just because I want to play," Bruschi responded. "This isn't something you [just] go for. This is something you make sure everything is right.

"I'm not just going to jump into something without being absolutely 100 percent positive. And I am. So, I hope that they would know me to know that I would make sure of that. I would never want to put what I have with my family at risk because first and foremost I am a family man. I'm going to make sure before I resume what I do professionally that I'm cleared to do so."

Bruschi, 32, is currently on New England's physically unable to perform list. He had stated early this year that he would not return until the 2006 season, but his rehab progress was quicker than expected.

"Everyday, just the progress that I've made, I continued to get better and better," Bruschi remarked. "All of a sudden I came to a point where...they [doctors] tell me I can play. I feel like I can play. Shoot, I know I can play. So, let's just play."

Bruschi had an interception in the Patriots' 24-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX on February 6, helping New England to its third Super Bowl championship in four years.

The nine-year veteran out of Arizona had 122 tackles during the 2004 regular season, which trailed only Rodney Harrison for the team high. Bruschi also recorded 3 1/2 sacks and three interceptions.
 

The Sports Network - National Football League

 Bruschi Says He'll Return to Practice Wed.
By HOWARD ULMAN, AP Sports Writer

Mon Oct 17, 1:50 PM ET

New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi plans to return to practice on Wednesday, eight months after having a mild stroke.

Bruschi was cleared Sunday by his doctors to begin practicing this week, but the Patriots left it up to Bruschi and his family to determine when he would return.

Bruschi was one of the defensive stars on a team that has won three Super Bowl titles in the last four seasons. The Patriots are 3-3 so far this season and have allowed 27.3 points per game, most in the AFC.

"I want to help this team any way I can," he said Monday at a news conference at Gillette Stadium. "They tell me I can play, I know I can play, so, shoot, let's just play."

Bruschi didn't say when he planned to play in a game. The Patriots have a bye this week and return to action Oct. 30 at home against Buffalo.

"I'm going to let Bill decide that," Bruschi said. "I'm another player on this team and will get evaluated by coach Belichick. ... When they see me and they evaluate me on how I look in practice, I'm sure that decision will be made."

Bruschi has been on the physically unable to perform list all season, meaning he can practice with the Patriots after the sixth week of the regular season, which ends Monday night.

NFL rules give him three more weeks to start practicing, and then the team would have three weeks to decide whether to place him on the active roster. Had he been placed on injured reserve, he would not have been able to return this season.

"Physically, Tedy is completely back to normal, and is completely healthy," Dr. David Greer, a specialist from Massachusetts General Hospital who has monitored Bruschi since his stroke, said in a statement Sunday.

The linebacker made his first Pro Bowl appearance in February, but was hospitalized three days later after complaining of numbness in his left arm and left leg. In March, he underwent surgery to repair a small hole in his heart.

The 32-year-old Bruschi had said as recently as last month that he would not play this season. But he has been working out in the Patriots' weight room, attending team meetings and standing on the sideline at home games.

"It was a traumatic experience," he said. "It's a long road back. So I'm not going to jump back in unless I'm absolutely 100 percent positive I'm ready. And I am."

An emotional player with a knack for being in the right spot on the field, Bruschi is in his fourth season as a defensive captain.

The Patriots drafted Bruschi in 1996 in the third round out of Arizona and he became a full-time starter in 1999. He was second on the team in tackles last year, when the Patriots allowed the third fewest points in the NFL and won their second straight Super Bowl.

Bruschi Says He'll Return to Practice Wed. on Yahoo! News

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS LINEBACKER TEDY BRUSCHI

PRESS CONFERENCE

OCTOBER 17, 2005

 

Thank you all for coming.  I think the first thing I should do is say thanks for your patience.  I know I haven't commented a lot on this.  It's been a long road to this but I appreciate your patience and your professionalism on how you handled my situation, especially the local media.  I just want to say thank you for doing that.  The organization from the coaches to the trainers, Mr. [Robert] Kraft especially.  The way that they have helped me get the best possible medical advice to make sure things were right and make sure it was possible for me to continue what I love doing.  I want to thank them for that.  I want to especially thank the people at Mass General who've been with me since day one.  Dr. [David] Greer has been huge for me.  You got that statement from him.  He was the physician that put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'Tedy you've had a mild stroke.'  I said 'what?' [laughter].  He's the guy that's been with me.  I want to thank him.  [The] people at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital who helped me from day one on my rehabilitation to get back to walking right, seeing right and all that stuff.  They really did a great job and I want to thank them.  Jim Whalen the head trainer here with the New England Patriots.  Joe Van Allen, Dave Granito and the training staff - they're the best trainers in the league by far.  I've only known them for so long but they've got to be the best for what they've done for me.  Just helping me the way they have, they've been incredible.  The strength staff - Mike Woicik, the way he's helped me rehabilitate.  My teammates - my teammates have been so supportive of me.  My wife - my wife Heidi - she's been by me ever since it started - since the 9-1-1 call.  Her support has been so special to me. A special thank you to her.  But having said that, here I am.  I fully anticipate to practice Wednesday.  It's been a long road to rehabilitation mentally, physically and emotionally.   It's been a rough road.  The first month and half of the year - my third son was born, we win an AFC Championship, we win a Super Bowl, I go to a Pro Bowl - I come home and I have a stroke. It's been a roller coaster.  It's been a long way back and here I am.  I fully anticipate practicing Wednesday.  I want to help this team in any way I can.  I've been cleared to play medically by many physicians and I'm just here to tell you - thank you to all the fans especially who have given me all their support - e-mails, letters, flowers sent to my home.  The support I received from them has been absolutely incredible.  I've said before, the fans in New England were the best in the league.  I have first hand knowledge in how special they can be and how supportive they can be when a player really needs to be picked up off the ground and given support.  They've done so much for me and I want to thank them for that.  Go ahead, anyone have any questions for me.

 

Q: What ultimately led to this decision?

 

TB: I think just my rehabilitation process.  I just kept getting better - I kept getting stronger.  Workouts improved.  Just everyday the progress that I made just continued to get better and better and all of a sudden I came to the point where...they tell me I can play, I feel like I can play, shoot I know I can play, so lets just play.

 

Q:  What about those fans who don't think you should return.  How do you comfort them?

 

TB:  Well first of all I just say thank you because it's obvious that they care for me and they're just worried about me.  I can't express to them enough how we've had the same concerns.  We've had the same questions - myself, Heidi - we've gone through everything.  That's why we've seen so many people.  There's a man upstairs [Robert Kraft] who says measure nine times and cut once.   He's told me this throughout this process.  We've measured a lot of times.  I believe we've done that.  We've made sure.  We checked and checked and checked and okay let's check another time because we want to be sure.  I think that they don't know that I've done that.  I want to tell them that I've done that.  Unanimously, every doctor and physician that's seen me has given me clearance.  So I would hope that would help them realize that I have been cleared to play and I'm not just doing this because 'I just want to play - forget it - I'm going for it.'  I'm not doing that. This isn't something you just go for.  This is something you make sure everything's right.  I mean come on - I lost my sight.  One morning, one day you wake up and you can't see your sons very clearly anymore because you've had a stroke.  You can't walk right.  Two days before you're playing in a football game, now you can barely go down the steps. Two days before you're making tackles in the Pro Bowl and then all of a sudden your vision on your left side, you can't see your hand right here.  It was a traumatic experience.  It's been a long road back.  I'm not going to jump into something without being absolutely 100 percent positive and I am.  I would hope that they would know me [well enough] that I would make sure of that.  I would make sure of that and I would never want to put what I have with my family at risk, because first and foremost I am a family man.  But I'm going to make sure before I resume what I do professionally, that I'm cleared to do so. 

 

Q:  What kind of emotions did you have watching this team the first six weeks?

 

TB:  I think I lived it like a fan really.  I think I went through everything a fan would go through first and foremost.  Cheering every time the defense stops an opponent or the offense scores and getting excited and doing the best I can not to jump up and down on the sideline, but to contain my emotion.  Wanting to get out there.  Trying to help the guys who are out there.  Trying to give them as much advice as I can without trying to impose anything on them because they're all good football players.  I would just say everything.

 

Q:  What kind of fears did you have in getting back to normal and not even thinking about returning to football?

 

TB:  Right.  Would I ever see again?  That was one of my biggest concerns.  I've been through times where I've had pains - my arm hurt or a sprained knee or something like that - but never something to where I lost my vision.  I lost part of my vision, so that was a big concern with me was would I ever see again? I had a stroke. I lost some field of vision - 'Would I ever see again?  Six weeks out of my stroke, we did a visual field test and it was restored.  That was one of my big concerns initially. 

 

Q:  Was there a point in the rehab process where you thought it was possible for you to come back this year?

 

TB:  That's just the process we were going to go through.  PUP [Physically Unable to Perform List] and we'll cross that bridge when we come to it when I came off PUP.  The whole time in my mind, I believed it was possible.  I believed it was possible that a comeback could be complete whether it was next year, whether it was this year.  That's what I was working for - when it would happen, I didn't know.

 

Q:  When was the point when you realized it could be this year?

 

TB: I can't really say I woke up one day and said, 'Yeah, I'm going to play this year.' It was me being able to complete workouts.  It was me being able to run the conditioning test over and over and over again.  It was me getting my strength back.  It was a combination of all those things coming together.  That told me, this is going to happen.

 

Q:  How long does it take you to get back into game shape?  Are you carrying the same weight as you were before?

 

TB:  Weight is fine.  Right now I think I just have to worry about practice shape first and foremost and I'm going to practice Wednesday and the coaches will keep their eyes on me and evaluate me just like any other player from that point.

 

Q:  Have you been breaking down film since the season began?

 

TB:  I have been in every meeting.  I wouldn't say I was in every meeting during training camp.  But as the season started and we started game planning for teams -maybe about the third week of the preseason- I've been in virtually every meeting, hearing what the adjustments would have been, studying the offenses.  I don't think I would have any doubts whatsoever mentally.

 

Q:  The PUP list.  Was it your idea or Coach Belichick's idea to put you on that list?

 

TB:  It was sort of a collective decision.  Coach Belichick has been great about just being there for me.  He accepted my suggestions on how I wanted to handle things, and just been 100 percent supportive.  So it's something that we came up with.  Let's start on PUP and from then, six weeks into the season... I'm a one day at a time type of guy, so let's not write the whole year off right now.  Let's just see where I go and see how I progress and then when this point comes, let's face it, and that's what we're doing now. 

 

Q:  Are you aiming to play against Buffalo?

 

TB:  I'm aiming to practice.  That's what I'm aiming to do.  I'm excited to put my helmet on.  That's what I'm excited to do right now.  Like I said, I'm a one day at a time type of guy, and this has been a step-by-step process.  The minute I was told I had a stroke, it wasn't 'Whoa is me' or anything like that.  It was always 'Okay, where do I go from here?  What do I do next?  What do I have to do now to get better?'  That was my mindset from day one after I was in Mass General.

 

Q:  How fortunate do you feel to be able to get back to normal?

 

TB:  There were times in my mind when I thought I was done.  I thought I was done at times.  'I can't see.  I can barely walk.  How am I going to be able to play football again?'  I'm just being honest with you here.  That's the way I felt.  So to come from there, all the way to where I am now... to looking forward to getting all the doctors to tell me the same thing;  to be able to resume my career and do what I love.  I' m very excited.  I'm very excited.  If I could express to you what this means to me I would, but I don't know if I really can.  I'm sorry. 

 

Q:  Did the fact that the team was struggling make you push your rehab a little more?

 

TB:  No, because I couldn't.  I couldn't let how the team was doing affect my mindset on my rehabilitation, because I sort of believe I had to take it upon myself that my rehabilitation and getting myself 100 percent healthy has to be first and foremost, before the team in my mind.  I couldn't let Rodney [Harrison] getting hurt affect it.  I couldn't let any type of loss affect it because what was doing was so important to me, and because there was no way I was going to be able to help them anyway if I wasn't able to perform the way I felt I was capable of.  So what I had to focus on was my rehabilitation first and foremost.

 

Q:  Does it surprise you that you're up here right now in the middle of October?  If someone told you in February that you were going to be standing her in the middle of October, would that have shocked you?

 

TB:  I wasn't in a place to hear that then.  I wasn't in a place to even think about football, let alone being done after an entire season.  If this happened or not and someone asked me if I was ready to play after the Pro Bowl I would have said 'You're crazy, man.  Get out of here.  I'm not even thinking about football.'  But having this happen, football was the furthest thing from my mind.  The only thing on my mind was getting better.

 

Q:  Did Heidi say this is your decision?

 

TB:  This isn't my decision.  This is our decision.  This is our decision.  I wouldn't... what husband would just do this on his own?  I wouldn't do that to my wife.  She's been with me ever since the beginning.  She jokes about having a degree in neurology and cardiology because of all the information she's gotten and all the doctors she's spoken with.  This is our decision.  We've come to this decision together.

 

Q:  Was there a family summit or meeting before a formal decision was made?

 

TB:  I think after numerous medical opinions and one of my visits to Mass General --I was constantly being told, 'Tedy, you can do this'-- on our way home, we stopped at one of our breakfast spots in North Attleboro that we like to eat breakfast at --the boys were at home with the babysitter so we could sit down and talk peacefully- we looked each other in the eye and said, 'Let's go for it.  Let's do it now.  Why wait till next year if I'm feeling the way I'm feeling now and I'm being told what I'm being told?'   Because I wouldn't want to just say I'm feeling better and I'm ready to go without my doctors telling me it's okay for you to do so.  That was a point where we decided to do it now.

 

Q:  Do you feel any apprehension about the first drill, the first hit?

 

TB:  I think I feel sort of the same way as I do before training camp, really.  There's always a feeling I get before every training camp to where you do that first contact drill and you sort of have that little bit of antsy-ness about you and just, 'Okay, are you going to still put your face in there?'  I maybe have that same type of feeling, but I relate it to that.  I don't relate it to any type of apprehension of what I've gone through, because I think my confidence is 100 percent back.

 

Q:  How long will it take you to get back to where you feel you can play in a game?

 

TB:  I don't know.  I'm going to let Bill decide that.  I'm going to go in practice Wednesday, Thursday.  I'm going to participate fully now in every team drill, meeting, practice, whatever there is.  And right now, that's all I am.  I'm another player on this team and I'll get evaluated by Coach Belichick and the coaches to where 'We believe Tedy can help us here... so let's put him there.'  So when they see me and they evaluate me and how I look in practice, I'm sure that decision will be made.

 

Q:  Is part of the process now educating your teammates about strokes and about "I'm not fragile" and "don't hold back"?

 

TB:  I would hope I'm educating everybody on stroke.  I feel like I'm the face of stroke.  I'm working now with the American Stroke Association, helping them get the word out about stroke and the warning signs of stroke.  Because when this happened to me, I didn't know I was having a stroke.  So I'm working with them, trying to get the information out, especially to people my age.  I've gotten numerous letters from kids who are 16, 20, 25 years old, 12 year olds who have had strokes and who have made 100 percent recoveries, and their letters have really helped me to get to where I am now.  Working with the American Stroke Association, I hope to get the word out on stroke and help educate the people of America.

 

Q:  How about the guys treating you fragile?

 

TB:  If they do they're just going to have to watch themselves in practice.  If they think they're going to treat me any differently... if they want to come out me a little bit differently, that's ok, because I'll just hit them the same way.  You know?

 

Q:  What is your understanding of what caused the stroke?

 

TB:  That is a medical question.  That is a medical question.  I've had it explained to me in big words.  If I could just refer that to the statement that Dr. Greer gave to you, I'd like to keep [medical questions] there.

 

Q:  How do you think you can help this team?

 

TB:  I wouldn't be standing here in front of you if I didn't think I could play football.  I have confidence.  I know my physical abilities.  Game shape, practice shape, things like that, putting on the shoulder pads, that's why the NFL has training camps, so I don't have that step in the process.  So it's going to be different for me, but I think that my ten years of experience will help also.  I'm not just going to get in there and have to get reps to recognize a 'Wham' or something like that.  I know what it looks like.  I know how to react to it just from experience.  So I'll think I'll be pulling from my experience a lot more.

 

 

Q: Is there anything that you have to do legally in terms of the team? Did you have to sign off on anything?

 

TB: In terms of that, that's once I get to actual playing. Right now, they have to decide if I can play. Man, once they see me out at practice, let them decide if I can play or not. That which you're talking about is something I haven't had to deal with.

 

Q: When did the idea of a possible return start to creep up?

 

TB: Like I said, it wasn't really one day. I think it was an accumulation of all days. I'd say being able to see again might have helped a lot, but to tell you the truth, it's been a process.

 

Q: What are your thoughts on this team so far this season? There has not been a lot of consistency.

 

TB: They're my guys, man. They play hard. They work hard. They practice hard. They're doing the same types of things that we've done in the past when we've been extremely successful. This season is still young. We're at a bye week right now at 3-3, but once again, we're not going to look back on how we've done. Right now, we're going to look at this bye week as an opportunity to rest and get better and get some guys back - me, hopefully - and go from there. The next opponent is Buffalo and I think we'll just focus on that and leave all of our focus on that. But [in this year's team], I see fight, I see hard work, and I see a lot of things that make me want to play with this team right now.

 

Q: Has what you've gone through changed your perspective at all on life and playing football? Do you feel a little different perspective on things?

 

TB: Yeah. I thought my perspective was pretty good before. I thought I had made some decisions in my life that have helped me become a good husband and a good father and appreciate the things that life has to offer. Having this happen ... I truly believe it was meant to happen. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. I had a stroke, but the word is 'had.' The word is 'had.' I had a stroke, I've recovered from it, and here I am.

 

Q: What did your workouts consist of? What exactly were you doing to get ready for this?

 

TB: My workouts consisted of everything and anything. Every off season program that we've had here that I've done in the past, all of those workouts, all of the conditioning drills, the conditioning tests ... I've done it all. I've done it all. Yes, running, lifting, jumping, everything. Name some more. Yes, I've done it.

 

Q: What do you miss most about Sundays and playing football?

 

TB: I think I just miss the game of football. It's what I do. I play football and I'm a football player. Playing the games is the most fun thing about it. There are meetings and practices and training sessions that you have to go through, but playing football and being a part of this team - this New England Patriot team - is something that I really feel special about. The game. The game is what I missed.

 

Q: You obviously love football so much, but when you were standing there watching it on the sideline or on TV, it had to be frustrating to watch your team play, knowing you could do nothing about what's going on.

 

TB: Yeah, well, I thought there were still some things that I was doing to contribute a little bit, just in the meeting room and on the sideline. It was frustrating that I couldn't get out there, but I think I knew in the back of my mind the whole time that there was going to be a time for me, and the time is now.

 

Q: Have you thought about the first time you will be hit on the field and what that might be like? Will you go out there with no reservations?

 

TB: Absolutely. I don't have any reservations and I can't. Football is a contact sport and I wouldn't have some to this point unless I had the clearance that I have had and the information that I have. That information, that clearance, those doctors, those physicians, all of that information that they have unanimously given me, that gives me the confidence where my head will be ringing because I just hit somebody in the head. That's what I'll go with.

 

Q: Do you have any doubt in your mind that you will be able to play the game again?

 

TB: No, I don't. I don't.

 

TB: If I could just say one more thing, this guy over here, [Patriots Executive Director of Media Relations] Stacey [James], has been incredible for me. If I could just thank him publicly, because of the way that I've been a headache for him. I've been a huge headache for this guy. Stacey, I just want to say thanks for everything that you've had to deal with in regards to me. Thank you very much.

 

10/19/05

Tedy Bruschi pool report transcript:

Tedy, what is your immediate reaction to coming off the field following your first practice in over eight months?
"I had a good amount of nerves. If you haven't done something in a long time, you always have some nerves the first time back. I had some good reads and had some bad reads. All of that comes with [this] being the first day [back]. I think I made some progress out there today. We did some conditioning after practice. I feel good with my conditioning level. It's where it needs to be, I think. Game shape is another thing, but we'll cross that road when we come to it. I thought it was a good day."

Was there much contact out there? If so, was there any temptation to hold back on your part or on your teammates' part?
"We didn't have contact today, but I sense none of that. None from me and none from my teammates. They responded to me in the huddle and in getting our communication down once again. Hopefully I can bring my communication [skills] to the defensive plays and help them out a little bit with that. I sense no tentativeness whatsoever."

What was the most encouraging thing out there? On the other hand, was there anything discouraging?

"Nothing discouraging. I think the encouraging thing was that I'm still seeing things right. I'm still getting my reads and on pretty much every snap I was in there and had the right read that I should have had for that offensive play. There were maybe some false steps here and there, but I think that comes with the first day."

Did it feel like the first day of training camp for you?

"No. I think that training camp is such a good atmosphere with the fans and the heat and a lot of other things that come with it. It didn't feel like that. Those guys are already in midseason form, and I'm just trying to join them."

Obviously, it's not training camp and we're kind of on a compressed schedule here, with six games having been played. Do you see yourself in any way being ready to play on Sunday [Oct. 30] against the Bills?

"I'm going to try. I'm going to try. Today was the first step in my attempt. I felt good out there, like I was saying, but I'm not going to make any guarantees or promises [other than] that I'm going to give it my best shot."

Do you have any pain or discomfort at all?
"No."

This is uncharted territory, obviously. What continues to make you believe that you can be the guy that comes back from such a devastating thing as what you went through?
"First of all, I just have confidence in my doctors and what they've told me. Everyone has been positive about what I can do and has been clear about it. It's up to me whether I want to play football or not. They say I can, so I think that having them say that to me gives me confidence that I can do it."

This is a big step forward. Is there a sense of relief now that this is behind you and the first practice is over?
"It's a relief that I got the first day under my belt. It is. I won't lie to you. I'll be honest with you. I've still got a long way to go. I've got a long way to go in which I've still got other steps to take in terms of games and physical contact, but I think I'll be ready for that."

You mentioned taking other steps. What is the next step?
"I'd say the next step is tomorrow's practice. Whatever we do, it's still another day to me. I'm living life one day at a time right now. I'm very fortunate that I'm still able to play the game that I love. I'm going to go home and sleep and then wake up tomorrow and do it again."

Bruschi practices with Patriots
Tedy Bruschi
Canadian Press
10/19/2005 1:18:05 PM

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Tedy Bruschi lifted both legs far over his head as he lay on his back and stretched. He chased teammate Mike Vrabel and blocked him playfully in the back. He ran to the next drill.

And he smiled.

For the first time since a minor stroke eight months ago threatened his NFL career, the Patriots' star linebacker was practising with his team Wednesday.

"I'm back playing the game that I love," Bruschi said before putting on his shoulder pads and his dark blue 54 jersey, carrying his helmet out of the locker-room and walking into the noon sun.

It was a short walk compared to the road Bruschi has travelled since Feb. 6, when New England won its third Super Bowl in four years. A week later, Bruschi played in his first Pro Bowl. Three days after that, he was hospitalized after experiencing numbness in his left arm and left leg. Then he had surgery in March to repair a small hole in his heart.

As recently as September, the 32-year-old defensive co-captain said he wouldn't play this year. But he kept working out in the team's weight room, running and attending team meetings. He also stood on the sideline during home games.

Then he received medical clearance from several doctors to cross that barrier and play this season.

"I have no type of reservations," Bruschi said Wednesday before practice. "I think I've done . . . everything that I had to do to make sure that my confidence level is high for when I need to stick my face in there. I'm going to stick it in and I'm going to stick it in hard."

But the night before his return was restless. He said he didn't get much sleep.

"A lot of things on my mind," Bruschi said, "a lot of things racing through my mind, but excited."

Coach Bill Belichick was excited to have Bruschi back and said he wouldn't wince when Bruschi gets hit on the field.

"Anything any other player would do, that's what he's going to do" in practice, Belichick said.

He said he didn't know if Bruschi would play in the next game Oct. 30 against Buffalo after the Patriots' bye week. On Monday, Belichick said that was possible and Bruschi said he had no doubts he would play in a game this season.

Without Bruschi, the Patriots are 3-3 after losing just two games in each of the last two seasons.

They've also suffered significant injuries: knee problems ended safety Rodney Harrison's season and sidelined defensive end Richard Seymour for the past two games; running backs Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk missed last Sunday's 28-20 loss at Denver; and offensive tackle Matt Light is expected to sit out much of the season with a leg injury.

"I feel I can play linebacker. That's all that I can do," Bruschi said. "I can't play cornerback. I can't play safety. I can't play offensive line."

Belichick will decide when he can play in a game.

"I love Tedy Bruschi. He's been a significant player for our team," Belichick said, but "I'm not going to do a minute-to-minute evaluation" of his progress.

But Bruschi is an expert on Belichick's defence and has stayed in shape.

"I've been doing everything I could possibly do except for putting the pads on," Bruschi said. "`I had to make myself ready first and I believe I did that."
 

TSN.ca - NFL - Canada's Sports Leader

 

 

Woes of team no factor in decision
By Dan Ventura
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - Updated: 07:11 AM EST


FOXBORO – Tedy Bruschi insisted that the Patriots' recent woes had no bearing on his return to the team.

``I couldn't let how the team was doing affect my mindset,'' said Bruschi, who will start practicing tomorrow. ``I believed that I had to take it upon myself that my rehabilitation toward getting myself 100-percent healthy had to be first and foremost in my mind.

``I couldn't let Rodney (Harrison) getting hurt affect it. I couldn't let any other losses affect it because what I was doing was so important to me. There was no way I was going to be able to help them anyway if I wasn't able to perform at the way that I was capable of, so what I had to do was focus on my rehabilitation.''

Until yesterday, Bruschi was rarely spotted in public, except on the sideline during Patriots games. He admitted that it wasn't easy to stand there, helpless to do anything to influence the outcome of a contest.

``I was like a fan. I would cheer every time the defense stopped an opponent or the offense scored,'' Bruschi said. ``I was doing the best I can not to jump up and down on the sidelines.

``I just tried to help the guys as much as I could on the sidelines. I tried to give them as much advice as I can without imposing, or anything like that, because they are good football players.''

When asked to assess the Patriots of 2005, Bruschi had nothing but glowing things to say about his teammates.

``They play hard, they work hard and they practice hard,'' said Bruschi, clad in a Patriots workout shirt and shorts. ``They are doing the same type of things that we've done in the past and been extremely successful.

``The season is still young. We're going into the bye week at 3-3. We can't look back at what we did. Right now we're looking at the bye week as an opportunity to rest, get some guys back, me hopefully, and go from there.

``I see fight, I see hard working guys. I see things that make me want to play with this team right now.''

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Woes of team no factor in decision

 

Time will tell with Tedy
Patriots still aren't sure if Bruschi will be fully back
Posted: Wednesday October 19, 2005 5:50PM; Updated: Wednesday October 19, 2005 5:50PM


Tedy Bruschi participated in practice on Wednesday, but no hitting was allowed.
AP


FOXBORO, Mass. -- Tedy Bruschi is back. That much we know.

But the question of the day, whether Bruschi is all the way back, likely won't be answered for a while longer yet.

Wednesday was the first day of the rest of Bruschi's NFL career -- whatever that winds up entailing -- and it began with perhaps the least challenging opening step possible: A no-contact, no-pads midday practice at the beginning of the New England Patriots' bye week.

That Bruschi was back at work and wearing his familiar No. 54 jersey a little more than eight months after suffering a stroke certainly looked like progress. As the Patriots veteran linebacker probably knows better than anyone, there's no real blueprint to follow regarding the challenge he embarked on at Gillette Stadium.

Has anyone ever gone from football player to stroke victim, and back again? Can it even be done? We're about to find out.

"Coming back from a stroke doesn't happen a lot,'' said Bruschi, addressing a full-fledged media horde in the Patriots locker room before practice. "I want to get the word out that there is life after a stroke. I had a stroke, but like I said before, the key word is had. I've recovered and now I'm ready to resume my life.''

But is he ready to resume his place in the center of a Patriots defense that has been battered and beleaguered this season? We just don't know that yet. Not based on one day and one half-speed workout.

"Only time will tell if he's the old Tedy,'' said Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri, Bruschi's teammate for each of his 10 NFL seasons. "We honestly don't know. We'll see. Hopefully he will be. I don't think he'd be willing to come back if he doesn't feel like he's ready to come back, but it's a process. He looks like he's ready to go mentally, and he's excited to do it.''

Taking the practice field right around high noon, Bruschi looked relaxed and in his element as he stretched and chatted with teammate and fellow linebacker Mike Vrabel and Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini. In the 20 minutes or so of the workout open to the media, Bruschi took turns blocking in a few kickoff return drills -- no hitting allowed, and players wore just shorts, jerseys and helmets -- and then he slid to another field and seemed to be positioned with the first-team defense at right inside linebacker.

Afterward, Bruschi pronounced himself pleased with day one of his comeback, if for no other reason than he overcame a serious case of the first-day nerves.

"If you haven't done something in a long time, you always have some nerves the first time back,'' said Bruschi, who last suited up in the Feb. 13 Pro Bowl in Hawaii. "But it's a relief that I got the first day under my belt. I won't lie to you. I've got a long way to go, with other steps to take in terms of games and physical contact, but I think I'll be ready for that.''

The Patriots' mantra, set, of course, by head coach Bill Belichick, is that a timetable for returning Bruschi to the lineup is non-existent. For eight months, they've been waiting on Bruschi's body to dictate his playing status, and that's not about to change now.

"We'll take it day to day,'' Belichick said. "I don't think anybody has a crystal ball. I haven't seen him practice. We'll take a look at him in practice and see what it looks like. I don't know. I'm not going to do a minute-to-minute evaluation either. You look at a player for a while and you see what it looks like and you make a decision based on the information that you have in the time frame you're working in. But he's ready to start practicing. He's certainly at that point.''

After their bye week, the Patriots play a Sunday night game against visiting Buffalo. Bruschi is intent on playing. "I'm going to try,'' he said. "I'm going to try. Today was the first step in my attempt. I felt good out there, but I'm not going to make any guarantees or promises [other than] I'm going to give it my best shot.''

While Bruschi isn't in game shape yet, his conditioning is said to be strong, because he continued to run and lift throughout his rehabilitation. And he's adamant that there will not be any post-stroke hesitancy on his part once he resumes contact.

"Whenever [the first hit] comes, it comes,'' he said. "I have no type of reservations. I think I've done all of the background checking and everything I've had to do to make sure my confidence level is high. And when I need to stick my face in there, I'm going to stick it in and I'm going to stick it in hard.''

So Bruschi has returned, and apparently his fire to play the game has, too. What we can still only guess at will be his impact on a struggling New England defense that ranks 25th against the rush, 24th against the pass and 28th in points allowed.

Can even the emotional lift of his inspiration comeback offset part of what has ailed the two-time defending Super Bowl champions in the season's first six weeks? Again, time will tell.

"What you hope is he can come back and play at a high level,'' Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin said. " If he can do that, that'd be great. But it won't just be him. It's going to be 10 other guys who line up with him. Everybody has to play their position and play it well.''

The Patriots feel fortunate that Bruschi is back playing at all in 2005. Him playing well, at least as well as his former play-making self, is something they're still willing to be patient with.

 

SI.com - Writers - Don Banks: Patriots still aren't sure if Bruschi will be fully back - Wednesday October 19, 2005 5:50PM

 

Easy to root for a guy like Bruschi

Heart of Patriots set for a truly remarkable return

The New England Patriots have missed linebacker Tedy Bruschi, writes columnist Mike Celizic.
COMMENTARY
By Mike Celizic
NBCSports.com contributor
Updated: 9:28 p.m. ET Oct. 17, 2005



There are times in sports when a story is so good, so compelling, that it doesn’t matter for what team the central character plays. It can be your fiercest rival, the team you hate worse than a dog hates getting its temperature taken, and still you have to root for that person.

Such a story is that of Tedy Bruschi, the New England linebacker who suffered a stroke after the Pro Bowl last year and on Wednesday will resume practicing with his team.

Injuries are as common in football as snow is in Buffalo winters. It’s not a question of whether a player will get hurt, but of when and how badly. So common are torn ligaments and broken bones and dislocated shoulders and torn cartilage that we hardly blink at them. It’s never a question of if a player will come back, but when.

But Bruschi’s injury was to his brain. One day he’s playing in the NFL’s all-star game. The next, he could hardly see and barely walk. Football at that instant ceased meaning anything to him. His concern was being able to see his children, not being able to read the quarterback’s eyes.

It was as big a loss as the Patriots or any team could have. Bruschi was to the New England defense what Tom Brady was to the offense. He was the captain of the defense, a leader in spirit, emotion and performance. When the Pats needed a big play on defense, Bruschi always seemed to make it, whether it was ripping the ball from the grasp of a receiver, picking off a key pass, dropping the quarterback for a big loss or simply stuffing a short-yardage run.

The Pats had absorbed big losses of personnel, from Lawyer Milloy to Ty Law to Rodney Harrison, but losing Bruschi was losing more than a player. It was losing the team’s heart and soul.

And yet New England fans didn’t really care about that, not when the word came back that he had suffered a stroke. All they cared about was their hero getting better. When people first started to talk about him possibly returning next year, most true fans were more worried that he could suffer serious and permanent damage than they were about the effect his absence had on the team. Better that Tedy Bruschi live a full and productive life than that he risk further damage to what Woody Allen called his second favorite organ — his brain.

And now he’s coming back, not next year or at some indeterminate date, but right now. He’ll start practicing Wednesday, work through the team’s bye week, and then play whenever coach Bill Belichick decides he can help the team.

He hasn’t been through training camp, and, although he’s been working in the weight room and is in good shape, he’s not in football shape. He hasn’t pulled on the pads, has neither absorbed nor given a hit, hasn’t made the instant decisions and trusted in instinct and knowledge and reflexes that are the difference between playing well and not playing at all.

And yet, the Patriots need him. They’re a battered and hurting hulk right now, a championship team without many of its champion players.

It’s always been accepted wisdom that the genius of Belichick’s way of playing football is that his team can lose a player and plug another in who can get the job done. We believed that because it had always been so.

But as elegant as Belichick’s schemes are, they require not just men who can play football, but men who can make football plays. Brady is one of those people, the one man on offense without whom the team could not function at a championship level. On defense, there were more such players, and the two biggest playmakers were Rodney Harrison and Bruschi. When Bruschi went down, it was a staggering blow. When Harrison also went out early in the year, it was devastating.

The Pats are giving up nearly four touchdowns a game, and no team in the AFC is doing a better job of surrendering points. The defense and the entire team needs not just help, they need a lift.

Bruschi can’t cure all the problems, but it’s possible he can help make at least some of them better. In nothing else, just seeing such a vital part of the team in uniform again and lining up to play has to be an inspiration to everyone on the team and sitting in the stands watching it all.

He can provide a lift, and the Pats are in need of a lift in the worst way. It’s really too much to expect him to step in and turn a game around again the way he did so often. But it’s human nature to hope that he can.

And it’s also human nature to wonder what’s going to happen when he gets hit and to shudder at the thought.

It doesn’t matter how many doctors he’s been to and that every one of them cleared him without question to go out and run into people on a football field. He may be able to put the fact that he had a stroke out of his mind, but we can’t. We can’t help but look at him and marvel and his courage and wonder at his sanity for returning to a game in which brain trauma — however minor — is as common as foam wedges of Swiss cheese on the heads of the Lambeau Field faithful.

“We’ve made sure,” he said in the press conference at which he announced that he would rejoin the team at practice. “We checked, and checked, and checked, and, ‘OK, let’s check another time.’ because we wanted to be sure. . .(U)nanimously — every doctor and physician who has seen me has given me clearance.”

In other words, Bruschi knows what he is doing. He may play with reckless abandon, but he doesn’t deal with his life that way. This isn’t a decision made in response to a testosterone-warped desire to play a game. It’s not Admiral Farragut throwing caution to the winds, shouting, “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” It’s full speed ahead, but only after clearing the harbor.

Still, you have to wonder if you’d have the nerve to do the same thing, and, if you did, if your wife and mother and kids and friends would let you.

That’s why it’s such a good story, because our reaction to it is emotional and instinctive. Looked at with cold rationality, the injury Bruschi suffered is not significantly different than a torn ACL. There was a problem that caused it — in his case, a previously undetected hole in his heart — and it was fixed. He did his rehab and was cleared to play, the chances of it happening again so far off the screen as to give squads of physicians no reason to tell him to give up the game.

It doesn’t matter. He had a stroke less than a year ago, and now he’s going to play again. We have to watch. And no matter how we feel about the Pats, we have to wish him well.

Easy to root for a guy like Bruschi - NFL - MSNBC.com

Bruschi practices for first time since stroke
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi returned to practice Wednesday after recovering from a mild stroke suffered in February.


Bruschi's first day on the field since suffering the serious setback raised questions about any first day jitters and his readiness for game situations.

"I had a good amount of nerves. If you haven't done something in a long time, you always have some nerves the first time back," explained Bruschi after practice. "I had some good reads and had some bad reads. All of that comes with (this) being the first day (back)."

Bruschi suffered a stroke on February 16 and underwent subsequent surgery on his heart the following month. Since then he has been visiting doctors in an effort to gather information to see if a comeback this season is possible.

"First of all, I just have confidence in my doctors and what they've told me. Everyone has been positive about what I can do and has been clear about it," said Bruschi.

Bruschi understands that his teammates are in midseason form and hopes he can quickly pick up the pace.

"Hopefully I can bring my communication (skills) to the defensive plays and help them out a little bit with that. I sense no tentativeness whatsoever," responded Bruschi.

The Patriots linebacker felt no pain or discomfort after his initial practice and still sets an ambitious return to the field slated for October 30 against the Buffalo Bills.

"I'm going to try. I'm going to try. Today was the first step in my attempt. I felt good out there, like I was saying, but I'm not going to make any guarantees or promises (other than) that I'm going to give it my best shot," said Bruschi.

He plans to take his comeback one day at a time, gradually becoming more comfortable both physically and mentally.

"I'd say the next step is tomorrow's practice. Whatever we do, it's still another day to me. I'm living life one day at a time right now. I'm very fortunate that I'm still able to play the game that I love," said the Pro Bowl linebacker.

Bruschi had an interception in the Patriots' 24-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX on February 6, helping New England to its third Super Bowl championship in four years.

The nine-year veteran out of Arizona had 122 tackles during the 2004 regular season, which trailed only Rodney Harrison for the team high. Bruschi also recorded 3 1/2 sacks and three interceptions.

New England also made several roster moves Wednesday, placing safety Guss Scott on injured reserve with a knee injury, further decimating the team's secondary.

The Patriots also re-signed cornerback Hank Poteat and wide receiver Andre Davis Wednesday, while releasing linebacker Wesly Mallard.

The Sports Network - National Football League

Tedy's got a cause
By Karen Guregian
Thursday, October 20, 2005 - Updated: 06:22 AM EST


FOXBORO – Tedy Bruschi says he is returning to football because he loves to play, wants to play again, and doctors say he can.

But there is a little something more behind his comeback. With all the attention he's drawn – there were 25 cameras recording his every step at practice during open media viewing – he knows he can provide hope for other stroke victims.

``This has received a good amount of attention. I have to accept it, because I also want to get the word out about stroke,'' Bruschi said yesterday before heading out to the field for his first official practice since suffering a mild stroke eight months ago.

``I want to get the word out, there is life after stroke, and I had a stroke. But like I said before, the key word is had. I've recovered from it, and I've resumed my life.''

Bruschi, who would normally speak with reporters at his locker, was forced to move into an open corner to accommodate the media mob lined up to speak with him prior to practice. He said he's not used to the attention, but understands it, and hopes to use it in a positive way.

``I hope all the stroke victims out there can look at me, and how I've recovered from this, and look at themselves in the mirror, and say, `Hey, I can make a full recovery, too,' because it's possible.

``In the time we've been talking here, there's someone in America that's had a stroke. A stroke occurs every 45 seconds. It's the No. 1 disabler in America, the No. 3 killer . . . I realize it doesn't happen every day, coming back from something like this. I hope I'm giving all the stroke victims out there a lot of hope.''

Bruschi called it a ``secondary inspiration,'' to return to the game he loves, showing stroke victims they don't all have to lose who they are, or what they are. Just like national rodeo champion Stran Smith had done.

``I think people look at stroke, and they don't understand that it's common. That it happens,'' Bruschi said. ``I got letters from people who were 16 years old, 12 years old, 18, 25, saying, `Tedy, I had the same thing happen to me, and I've had a recovery. I wish you the best of luck.' Those letters and support . . . I have to take it upon myself, it is important what I'm doing.

``If many people tell me, `Tedy, you can play,' I don't see why I shouldn't give it a shot. If I'm going out there, getting as much information as I can, and everyone's telling me, `Tedy, it's up to you,' I think it'd eat me up if I didn't give it a shot.

``So I'm going out there and I'm going to give it my best shot.''

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Tedy's got a cause

 

Bruschi jumps in -- Endures full workout in return
By Karen Guregian
Thursday, October 20, 2005 - Updated: 06:02 AM EST


FOXBORO – Ease him in. Bring him back slowly. Well, that's not the picture the playoff-sized media gallery at Gillette Stadium yesterday witnessed with respect to Tedy Bruschi.

During the short window of time the enormous crush of reporters and photographers were allowed to view practice, Bruschi was in the middle of everything, from kick coverage to playing with the first defensive unit.

Right before the media horde was ushered out, during the front seven drill, in fact, he was in his familiar spot at inside linebacker paired with Mike Vrabel and later with Monty Beisel.

In short, the Bruschi train keeps rolling. No. 54 continues to be on the fast track for a return. While the linebacker voiced some trepidation about getting back into the full swing of things, indicating he barely slept the night before in anticipation of his first practice since suffering a mild stroke eight months ago, he didn't let those nerves derail him or his goal. It's still full speed ahead for getting on the field in a real game.

While Patriots coach Bill Belichick was giving his familiar one-day-at-a-time refrain, it would almost seem like an upset at this point if Bruschi wasn't activated for the Oct. 30 Buffalo game following this week's bye.

``I'm going to try. I'm going to try,'' Bruschi said following the workout, when asked by a pool reporter if he saw himself being ready to play against the Bills.

``Today was the first step in my attempt. I felt good out there, like I was saying, but I'm not going to make any guarantees or promises (other than) that I'm going to give it my best shot.''

Bruschi indicated there wasn't much in the way of contact during yesterday's practice, so it wasn't the best test for how he's going to handle the physical and mental challenge of banging heads once again.

But nothing happened to discourage him in any way.

``I think the encouraging thing was that I'm still seeing things right. I'm still getting my reads on pretty much every snap I was in there and had the right read that I should have had for that offensive play,'' Bruschi said. ``There were maybe some false steps here and there, but I think that comes with the first day.''

The Pats now have three weeks to decide on whether or not to activate Bruschi from the physically unable to perform list. Belichick didn't want to get into any predictions or forecasts of how long it might take Bruschi, or how close the All-Pro linebacker had to be in terms of his old form, before hitting the next green light.

The Pats coach wasn't up for providing much depth or insight into any of his Bruschi-related answers, save for one. When asked if it was good to have No. 54 back on the field, Belichick opened up a bit.

``I love Tedy Bruschi. I love him,'' Belichick said, his voice softening. ``He's been a significant player for our team, but at this point, we'll put him out there, day-by-day, and we'll see how it goes. I don't think anybody has a crystal ball.''

Belichick's press conference was standing-room only, while practice drew more than two dozen cameras from media outlets. Bruschi, who had to move from his locker to another spot in the room to accommodate the mass of reporters, said he was overwhelmed by all the attention his story has drawn.

``The one thing I don't want to be, I don't want to be a distraction. That's why I want to stress to you, all I am is a linebacker,'' he said. ``We need to improve a lot to become a better football team. I think I can help us do that.

``But, all I can do is play one position out there, when there has to be 10 other guys out there at the same time, playing their position at a high level, doing the right thing.''

Bruschi reiterated he has not signed, nor has he yet been asked by the team to sign any kind of liability waiver. All in all, he was just happy to get past yesterday's hurdle.

``It's a relief that I got the first day under my belt,'' he said. ``I won't lie to you. I'll be honest with you. I've still got a long way to go. I've got a long way to go in which I've still got other steps to take in terms of games and physical contact, but I think I'll be ready for that.''

 

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Bruschi jumps in -- Endures full workout in return

Hey Tedy, what's the rush?
By Mark Kreidler, The Sacramento Bee
Berkshire Eagle

SACRAMENTO, Calif.


Let me just go ahead and ask the layman's question, since the whole Tedy Bruschi story makes me feel like nothing so much as an outsider to the process:

What's the rush?

What's the rush to get back onto the football field eight months after suffering a stroke that left Bruschi unable to see out of his left eye or walk on his own?

What is the rush to return to active NFL status barely a month after telling a reporter there was no way he'd play this season? To quote Bruschi from September directly, as reported by the Boston Globe, "I'm telling you right now that's not going to happen. I need to do what's best for my family and myself."

What changed here, other than the New England Patriots' fortunes? When Bruschi spoke then, seemingly with such candor and real-world feeling, the former Roseville High School star sounded like a 32-year-old man, a

husband and father, coming through a difficult and painstaking rehabilitation, taking the long view.

At one point in September, he told the Globe's Jackie MacMullan, "I need time. I think I've healed faster physically than emotionally. ... There's a difference between living life normally and getting ready for a professional football season. I need the year to get myself ready."

Monday, in Foxboro, Mass., Bruschi was a linebacker again. He explained in a news conference his decision to short-circuit his previous thinking thusly:

"I want to help this team any way I can.

They tell me I can play. I know I can play. So, shoot, let's just play."

Yup. Sounds like football talk from here.

Does Bruschi have the right to make such a decision? Of course he does. Are the Patriots going to step in and try to talk him out of coming back now as opposed to next year? The Pats are 3-3 with a lead weight tied to their booties, already minus five other stalwarts from last year's Super Bowl winning defensive lineup. They can't get their longtime defensive touchstone back fast enough.

The NFL is all business. It's avarice in cleats. Bruschi is under contract and getting paid either way. It isn't the Patriots' job to worry about Tedy's heart any more than it was the 49ers' job to worry about Steve Young's noggin. If someone in charge does care, it's a bonus, not a requirement.

And that's the problem. Or no problem, depending upon your opinion. In the great view of the largely uninformed, it's all guesswork on Tedy Bruschi.

I'm no doctor, a fact cheerfully confirmed for me in a Monday phone conversation with Dr. Holly Zhao, who works in stroke and stroke recovery (among other things) at the UC Davis Medical Center.

Given the broad outline of Bruschi's case, Zhao said that, fantastical as it sounds, Bruschi today could well stand at 100 percent, physically. Bruschi's stroke was of the embolic nature, meaning it resulted from a blood clot that traveled through a small hole in his heart (since repaired), and in many such cases, Zhao said, "full motor recovery is entirely possible."

Bruschi's specialist in Massachusetts has confirmed as much and essentially set the man free - medically. Dr. David Greer's publicly issued statement, in fact, was very specific in that area, very careful to make it clear that he found "no medical reasons" to forestall Bruschi's return to the field.

But that's only half the battle. Zhao noted that stroke victims tend to be at higher risk for depression, and they will face post-trauma difficulties such as cognitive memory deficit - simply put, the inability to remember some things.

That sounds like small potatoes compared with Bruschi's immediate problems after his stroke; he couldn't see out of his left eye, and he literally had to be taught how to walk again. His physical progress from the dark day of Feb. 15 is almost unbelievable.

But go back to that earlier comment, the one Bruschi made last month: "I think I've healed faster physically than emotionally." That, I believe. That one I take to the bank. It rings true all the way through.

And it makes me wonder, strictly as a layman, how much of the rest of Tedy Bruschi's recovery will be sacrificed before the altar of the NFL.

Berkshire Eagle Online - Sports

Bruschi: ‘It's what I do'
By DAVID PEVEAR, Sun Staff


If I were Tedy Bruschi, I wouldn't do it.

But that is just me.

Maybe you wouldn't come back to pro football eight months after suffering a stroke and temporarily losing your eyesight, either.

But that is just you.

We are not Tedy Bruschi, the heart and soul of a championship defense.

The beauty of this great big world in which we live is that everyone is different. Only Tedy Bruschi is Tedy Bruschi, though this world -- particularly the grassy part of it left wide open of late by Monty Beisel and Chad Brown -- would be a much nicer place if there were more Tedy Bruschis.

His many renowned doctors say this is so, and Bruschi is certain it is so.

“They tell me I can play. I feel like I can play. Shoot, I know I can play. So let's just play,” said Bruschi during a press conference yesterday at Gillette Stadium.

Bruschi will return to practice tomorrow, eight months after he suffered what has been termed a “mild” stroke by those who did not have the terrifying misfortune of having suffered it, and three months after Bruschi announced he would sit out the 2005 season.

The Patriots are off this coming Sunday. They return to action Oct. 30 against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Bruschi's confident appraisal of his mental and physical conditioning leads one to believe that he will be back in the Patriots' lineup that night on ESPN.

“They're my guys,” said Bruschi of his teammates whom he has watched struggle without him through injuries and a murderous schedule. “They play hard. They work hard. They practice hard. They are doing the same types of things we have done in the past when we've been successful. The season is still young.”

And now Bruschi is coming back.

Me, I wouldn't do it.

But that is just me.

Bruschi is obviously far more attuned to the risks, if any, of his playing football again than any of us is. He has carefully listened to all the doctors. Having spoken to Bruschi on occasion, and having listened to his common-sensical assurances yesterday, it is fairly obvious also that Bruschi is smarter than most of us.

“It's what I do,” said Bruschi. “I play football. I'm a football player.”

Even if the terrifying stroke had never happened, the day when Bruschi must pry himself from this game that he loves is near. The stroke seemed to present a perfect time for the most beloved Patriot to retire.

By NFL durability standards, Bruschi already is on borrowed time. He is 32 and has played nine pro seasons at a punishing pace. His teammate and fellow linebacker Ted Johnson was recently battered into retirement at 32, walking away from the game he also loves this past summer.

Bruschi's career seems fulfilled -- three Super Bowl rings, an overdue trip to the Pro Bowl this past February -- but none of us really has the right to tell Bruschi that he should walk away. Bruschi being Bruschi, thoughtful and genuine, thanked those of us who do think that way.

“The thought means they care for me and they're just worried about me,” he said. “I can't express to them enough how (Bruschi and his wife, Heidi) had the same concerns. We've made sure. We've checked, and checked, and checked, and OK, let's check another time.

“C'mon, I lost my sight,” said an emotional Bruschi. “One morning you wake up and you can't see your sons very clearly anymore because you had a stroke. You can't walk right. Two days before, you were playing in (the Pro Bowl), now you can barely go down the steps. It was a traumatic experience. I'm not going to just jump into something without being absolutely, 100 percent positive. And I am.

“I would hope that (people worried about his return) would know me (enough) to know that I would make sure of that. I would never want to put what I have with my family at risk. Because first and foremost, I am a family man.”

Tedy Bruschi knows what is best for Tedy Bruschi.

What Bruschi believes is best for him and his family just so happens to be what is best for the 3-3 Patriots.

Their heart and soul is back.

And doctors say the heart is fine.

Lowell Sun Online - Home

 

He knows the ropes
Rodeo star's experience a positive sign for Bruschi
By Jerome Solomon, Globe Staff | October 22, 2005


Seems most everyone has offered a take on Tedy Bruschi's return to the NFL. From opinionated television analysts and sportswriters, to uninformed talk-show hosts and concerned fans.

Surely, in the week since Bruschi announced his decision to return to the practice field just eight months after suffering a mild stroke, you have heard the talk:

''How could he put his family through this?"

''This is a foolish decision."

''I wouldn't do it."

''He shouldn't do it."

But aside from Bruschi and the doctors who have been treating him since February, Stran Smith's opinion may be the most informed.

When he hears the oft-uttered phrase ''uncharted waters" referring to a professional athlete returning to a physical sport after a stroke, Smith chuckles.

''I've seen it done before," Smith says. ''So I believe, without a doubt, that Tedy Bruschi will be fine."

Smith's opinion is based on another case of an athlete returning to his profession following a stroke -- a champion calf roper named Stran Smith.

Two and a half years ago, Smith, then 32, faced an incident similar to the one Bruschi experienced a couple of days after returning from his first Pro Bowl. As was the case with Bruschi, who turned 32 in June, Smith's mild stroke was caused by a blood clot that passed through his heart via a small hole, known medically as a patent foramen ovale (PFO). Both Smith and Bruschi had a plug implanted to repair the congenital heart defect.

About the only significant variants between the cases are Bruschi's symptoms, and early aftereffects of the stroke included some numbness, difficulty walking, and loss of vision in his left eye, although Smith could not speak.

Another difference is Bruschi has waited seven months after the heart procedure to return to competition. Smith returned to the rodeo circuit in just two months, and in 2004, his first full year back, he finished second in the overall standings, a career best.

''Since he had the stroke I've been watching -- and I have never spoken with Tedy Bruschi -- but later, when I heard it was caused by a PFO, I wasn't worried about him at all," Smith said. ''I knew that he would want to come back, and I knew that he would come back. Because once they fix it and your heart accepts the device, within two months your heart has completely healed over and you're fine.

''I feel like my story was better told in the rodeo world than Bruschi's has been in the football world. People are so uneducated about it that they think there's a chance he could go through that again.

''All the doctors I've spoken with said once the device is accepted in your heart and the skin grows over it, there's no chance that that would be the cause of another stroke. There's not even a chance of it."

Despite its seriousness, Smith now laughs about his stroke.

He has an unmistakable Southern drawl that is pure West Texas, and Smith, who grew up in the small panhandle town of Tell, is definitely all cowboy. So when he asked a woman if she thought he had slurred a word in the previous sentence, she said no. Certain something was wrong, he tried to ask the question a second time. Nothing came out.

''I could reach down, touch my toes, feel my fingers, but I couldn't say a word," Smith said.

After being advised that he should go to a hospital, Smith hopped in his truck and drove to one in Childress, Texas. He wrote notes to the hospital staff, explaining he could not speak. He was told he should go to a major hospital in Amarillo, some two hours away. So he drove himself there, confused about his condition but not understanding how serious it was.

''When I show up in Amarillo, I'm still thinking I'm all right, it must be a really bad migraine," Smith said. ''When I got to the hospital check-in desk, there was a gunshot victim in the waiting room. When they saw it was me, they said, 'Oh, Mr. Smith, hurry on in.'

''I thought, 'This might be pretty bad if there's a gunshot victim out there and they're wheeling me on in and rushing me to the back.' "

The doctor told him not to worry, that his condition could be controlled by medication and he would most likely be healthy from that point on. However, Smith, whose ability to speak returned within 24 hours, would have to find a new occupation. Because of the physical nature of his sport, there was no way he could be cleared by doctors to rope calves while taking blood thinners.

But he and his wife, Jennifer, then pregnant with son Stone, researched and found a relatively new procedure to treat PFO at Tufts-New England Medical Center. Dr. Carey Kimmelstiel, the director of Tufts-NEMC's Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, and Dr. David Thaler, co-director of Tufts-NEMC's Stroke Center, did the work on Smith, who walked out of the hospital the next day with an Amplatzer plug in his heart.

Two months later, he was riding and roping, with knowledge imparted by his doctors that it was much more likely for a bull rider to be critically injured than for Smith to have another stroke.

''I was so amazed that it's so low risk that you have a lot greater chance of having a car wreck on your next trip than another stroke," said Smith, who stands fifth in the world standings in tie-down roping, with two major events remaining in the season.

Smith has long been one of the more popular cowboys on the rodeo circuit -- in 2000, People magazine named him one of its most-eligible bachelors -- but he knows Bruschi has a higher profile as an NFL star.

In a way, Smith said, maybe people should consider that before offering opinions about Bruschi's health.

''If you think about it, all the doctors that have went out on a limb here, they would tar and feather these guys if something happened to him," Smith said. ''I think if there is any chance whatsoever of something going wrong with Tedy Bruschi, the doctors would have advised against him coming back. Doctors have to be huge pessimists."

And as for the likes of ESPN analyst Michael Irvin, who is among those who have spoken out against Bruschi's return, Smith says they should let Bruschi make his own decisions.

''Michael Irvin said, 'I couldn't do that to my family.' Well, I promise you, Michael Irvin doesn't think of and love his family any more than Tedy Bruschi or I think of and love our families," said Smith, whose wife gave birth to their second son Oct. 17. ''Take it from someone who knows a little bit about it. It's something I've already been through. I know where [Bruschi's] coming from, because it's something that there's not very much out there about.

''All the uncertainties, the unknowns, that's what it's really about [for the doubters]. That's why people are saying what they're saying. If they knew, they would just cheer him on."

Jerome Solomon can be reached at jsolomon@globe.com

He knows the ropes - The Boston Globe

 

Bruschi back to help save Pats' season
Ian O'Connor / Special to FOXSports.com


Before Tedy Bruschi made his comeback intentions known, this was the cold, unforgiving truth attached to his New England Patriots like a towel from a running back's hip: They were not going to win Super Bowl XL in Detroit.

That's sure the way it felt and looked, anyway. A half dozen games deep, the Patriots didn't have it, whatever it is.

They didn't have that certain something so hard to define but so easy to see. Winners of three of the last four titles, the Patriots were starting to resemble the Yankees when they were done winning four out of five.

If the Yankees represent the franchise most often compared to the Patriots, then Tom Brady is Derek Jeter and Adam Vinatieri is Mariano Rivera. Bruschi? He's Paul O'Neill. Bruschi has always stood traffic-cop style at the intersection of tangible skill and intangible sense.

He's always tended to his trade at the corner of heart and soul.

That all changed three days after his first Pro Bowl appearance, 10 days after his interception helped the Patriots put away the Eagles to declare themselves a dynasty forever more. Bruschi experienced dizziness, headaches, numbness and blurred vision. He checked into the hospital and discovered that even rough and tumble 31-year-old linebackers can suffer a stroke.

"One day you wake up and you can't see your sons very clearly anymore because you've had a stroke," Bruschi said the other day. "You can't walk right. Two days before, you're making tackles in the Pro Bowl, and then all of a sudden your vision on your left side, you can't see your right hand here. It was a traumatic experience."

And one Bruschi refused to let stand as his career epitaph. He had surgery in March to repair a small hole in his heart, the condition that brought on the stroke. Bruschi began lifting weights, attending team meetings and consulting with doctors on the terms of a possible comeback.

Some six weeks after he told The Boston Globe that he wouldn't return this year, Bruschi announced that he was back, effective immediately. "Completely healthy," Dr. David Greer, Bruschi's doctor, declared his patient.

So Bruschi is back at work, back at practice. He is running, hitting, deploying that beagle-like nose for the ball. The Patriots have a bye this Sunday, and every reason to believe that Bruschi will be positioned at the emotional epicenter of the Oct. 30 home game against the Bills.

"I'm not going to jump into something without being absolutely, 100-percent positive, and I am," Bruschi said. "I would never want to put what I have with my family at risk, because first and foremost, I am a family man.

"There were times in my mind when I thought I was done. So to come from there ... and do what I love, I'm very excited. I want to help this team any way I can. They tell me I can play; I know I can play … so shoot, let's just play."

Bruschi's decision was challenged by those who found it too reckless, too quick. But it's his decision and his life. Bill Belichick didn't clear him to play, the doctors did. No professional athlete, dead or alive, has ever obeyed a stop sign when the doctor has posted a green light.

That green light might just have saved New England's dream season, the one that ends with a Yankee-like four-out-of-five championship run. At 3-3, the Patriots have already lost more games this year than they did in 19 regular season and postseason games last year.

Their defense has never been more vulnerable, surrendering 41 points to the Chargers and allowing an AFC-high 27.3 points per game. After an opening night, business-as-usual victory over the Raiders, the genius of Belichick and magic of Brady — always an Astair and Rogers combination — would not surface as regularly as it had since that magical, mystery Super Bowl victory over the then-mighty Rams.

Something needed to alter the team's dynamic. Something had to happen to save the Patriots from an early playoff exit, to pull them from the perilous — if remote — possibilities of missing the playoffs altogether.

In every figurative and literal way, Bruschi's earlier-than-expected comeback could be precisely what the doctor ordered.
 

FOXSports.com - NFL- Bruschi back to help save Pats' season

 

Tedy Bruschi teaching us all

The Standard-Times  October 21, 2005.

Many of us thought the day would never come when Tedy Bruschi would once more don a New England Patriots' uniform and take the field in another National Football League game. A stroke seemed just too severe a physical and emotional assault for a football player to overcome, even a player of such unusual character and determination as the all-pro linebacker. We have no known reference point for such a comeback, so most of us simply referenced the stroke victims among our family and friends and the way they have battled just to get back to the relatively simple tasks of walking and talking and seeing the words and images before them.


The idea of recovering from a stroke and returning to the violent world of a professional linebacker within a mere eight months seems to many of us the stuff of wishful thinking and fantasy, perhaps even dangerously delusional fantasy.


And because we doubt the possibility of such a quick return, many of us are doubting the wisdom of Bruschi's decision while fearing the consequences should the comeback effort go awry.


But, we should leaven our misgivings and keep in mind that the decision to return is totally in character for Tedy Bruschi, perhaps as beloved of any athlete ever to play in New England and for very specific reasons.


He always came prepared to play, always played his heart out, and never ever gave in to the negativity around him. He was at his best at the most critical moments of the biggest games and he played always with a sense of the team he was part of.


It was never just about Bruschi.


And as he is getting ready to return, it is still not just about Bruschi.. Sure, it is, in a way. Bruschi is a football player to the marrow of his bones. And, as Bill Parcells likes to say, in football season football players play football and we are in the middle of football season and the Patriots without Bruschi have been floundering. But more is involved than just football. Listen to the man at his news conference Monday. It is about his wife and family who made the decision with him; it is about the doctors who treated him; it is about the larger cause of teaching the public to be aware of stroke as menace. But also teaching stroke victims that life and its possibilities remain open to them.


Strokes, as Bruschi's remarkable recovery demonstrates, come in a range of destructive patterns and the medical community has made great strides in recent years in responding to their onslaught.


Bruschi endured what was described as a mild stroke just two days after returning from the Pro Bowl in Hawaii last February. For a time, he could neither see nor walk unassisted.


For an elite athlete at the height of his powers to be so suddenly and dramatically disabled without warning had to be traumatic beyond belief.


But, it wasn't long before his innate vitality and optimism reasserted itself. And now, just this past Wednesday, Bruschi has returned to practice.


We don't know whether Tedy Bruschi will be in uniform against Buffalo on Oct. 30 or a week later when the Indianapolis Colts come to town. We do know that the moment he comes through the runway onto the field at Gillette Stadium, he will receive an ovation as profound and heartfelt as any ever extended a ball player in these parts. We also know in Tedy Bruschi's case, it will be utterly deserved. Believe in Bruschi; this man has earned the faith of New England.
 

Tedy Bruschi teaching us all: 10/ 21/ 2005


 

TIME FOR TEDY

Adam Schefter

Since he suffered his stroke last winter, Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi has had this situation go just the way he wanted. He got medical clearance. He got his comeback. He got the chance to play this season. And now, Bruschi wants the chance to play next Sunday night, at home, against Buffalo.

Considering Bruschi's track record, he will get that chance. The only question now is whether he is playing at a high enough level for Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who ultimately will make the final decision on how soon Bruschi plays.

But throughout the next week, Bruschi will be doing everything he can to prove he is ready to play against Buffalo. And it would surprise nobody if he is out there.
THE LOVE OF THE GAME

This is how much Bruschi loves the game of football: He could have retired, taken an executive job with the Patriots working on marketing and promotions and sales, had a long-term contract, and made close to $1 million a year.

Instead, Bruschi tossed out that contract and opted to play football.

With Bruschi, it's not about the money; it's about the action. Being a football player brings him the most joy, and there's nothing in this world that he would rather do at this stage of his life.

It should be noted that his executive contract with the Patriots would have set him up with a post-football career, a life after the game. Only Bruschi doesn't care about that. He only cares about playing the game.
 

NFL.com - NFL News

Spaulding Hospital Honors Tedy Bruschi


(CBS4) BOSTON Patriots player Tedy Bruschi was honored Saturday night the 35th Anniversary Gala for the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston’s South End.

Bruschi recently survived a stroke, and the hospital’s medical team assisted in the linebacker’s recovery.

Bruschi, who attended the event with his wife, was surprised with a special announcement. The hospital named the new inpatient therapeutic rehabilitation gymnasium after him and his family. The gymnasium will be called, “The Tedy Bruschi Therapeutic Gymnasium.”

Bruschi, who was blown away with the honor, spoke to the audience about the importance of the Spaulding Hospital.

"I'm going to be truthful with you here. Everyone in this room in three weeks, you could be at Spaulding. You never know. I never knew...You could be there too, and we need to make this facility the best possible facility it can be."

 video here:  http://cbs4boston.com/topstories/local_story_296081034.html

 

Oct. 25, 2005
Bruschi’s recovery just business to the NFL
By Mark Kreidler
Sacramento Bee
Associated Press


Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi is trying to come back from the stroke he suffered last February. After saying he would sit out the season, Bruschi changed his mind.

Let me just go ahead and ask the layman’s question, since the whole Tedy Bruschi story makes me feel like nothing so much as an outsider to the process:

What’s the rush?

What’s the rush to get back onto the football field eight months after suffering a stroke that left Bruschi unable to see out of his left eye or walk on his own?

What is the rush to return to active NFL status barely a month after telling a reporter there was no way he’d play this season? To quote Bruschi from September directly, as reported by the Boston Globe, “I’m telling you right now that’s not going to happen. I need to do what’s best for my family and myself.”

What changed here, other than the New England Patriots’ fortunes? When Bruschi spoke then, seemingly with such candor and real-world feeling, he sounded like a 32-year-old man, a husband and father, coming through a difficult and painstaking rehabilitation, taking the long view.

At one point in September, he told the Globe’s Jackie MacMullan, “I need time. I think I’ve healed faster physically than emotionally. ... There’s a difference between living life normally and getting ready for a professional football season. I need the year to get myself ready.”

Last week, in Foxborough, Mass., Bruschi was a linebacker again. He explained in a news conference his decision to short-circuit his previous thinking thus:

“I want to help this team any way I can. They tell me I can play. I know I can play. So, shoot, let’s just play.”

Yup. Sounds like football talk from here.

Does Bruschi have the right to make such a decision? Of course he does. Are the Patriots going to step in and try to talk him out of coming back now as opposed to next year? The Pats are 3-3 with a lead weight tied to their booties, already minus five other stalwarts from last year’s Super Bowl winning defensive lineup. They can’t get their longtime defensive touchstone back fast enough.

The NFL is all business. It’s avarice in cleats. Bruschi is under contract and getting paid either way. It isn’t the Patriots’ job to worry about Tedy’s heart any more than it was the 49ers’ job to worry about Steve Young’s noggin. If someone in charge does care, it’s a bonus, not a requirement.

And that’s the problem. Or no problem, depending upon your opinion. In the great view of the largely uninformed, it’s all guesswork on Tedy Bruschi.

Go back to that earlier comment, the one Bruschi made last month: “I think I’ve healed faster physically than emotionally.” That, I believe. That one I take to the bank. It rings true all the way through.


Bruschi’s recovery just business to the NFL

Bruschi status, role unclear
By Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff | October 26, 2005


How much Tedy Bruschi will play Sunday night against the Bills -- if at all -- will likely depend on how much he's able to practice, and how much contact he's able to deliver and absorb in the next three days.

If he plays, conventional wisdom suggests that the Patriots will ease him in. The tough part, said one teammate, ''might be keeping Tedy from getting too excited. This is a big day for him and the team. In the long run, we need Tedy to be Tedy, so forget about all he went through. He didn't have any training camp. All of a sudden he's got to get right into the flow and the speed of the game. That's not easy without a buildup. If anyone can do it, Tedy can, but I think they're pretty cautious around here."

Bruschi is in a 21-day window as the team evaluates him. If the Patriots intend to play him Sunday, they must take him off the physically unable to perform list before 4 p.m. Saturday. They could keep the Bills wondering up until then.

The other interesting question would be whether Bruschi plays the middle in the 4-3 or an inside position in the 3-4. The Patriots have been switching back and forth. On paper, a front four of Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, and Jarvis Green, with Willie McGinest, Bruschi, and Mike Vrabel at linebacker looks pretty potent.

That would limit Rosevelt Colvin, Monty Beisel, and Chad Brown to situational roles.

The Patriots could use a 3-4 and team Bruschi and Beisel in the middle with McGinest and Vrabel on the outside. Or Vrabel, who spent most of the Denver game inside, could team with Bruschi inside with McGinest and Colvin on the outside.

One suspects the Patriots will try all of the above, shaping their alignment with Bills running back Willis McGahee in mind.
 

Bruschi status, role unclear - The Boston Globe

Bruschi has first practice with contact
Belichick will decide game-time if LB will play vs. Bills on Sunday night
The Associated Press
Updated: 6:33 p.m. ET Oct. 26, 2005


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Tedy Bruschi handled the hits his teammates dished out in practice. Whether he’ll get a chance for more contact in Sunday night’s game remains uncertain.

The energetic catalyst of the New England Patriots’ defense who had a mild stroke 8˝ months ago must await coach Bill Belichick’s decision whether he’ll play against the Buffalo Bills.

“I’d like to get out there and see,” Bruschi said before Wednesday’s practice, his second with contact. “But it’s out of my control now. I’m back. I’m a player. I’m a member of the team. So I’ve trusted my coaches ever since I was in high school.”

After a bye week, the Patriots are home Sunday night for their first division game of the season. There’s still time for his excitement to build and Bruschi expects that to happen soon.

“It’s Wednesday,” he said. “I think I’ll start to feel excited come the weekend.”

Bruschi returned to practice Oct. 19 after receiving medical clearance, but there was no contact until Monday’s session. After an initial anxiety, he said he felt fine during that practice.

“It felt like a first day of training camp for me before I really get my first hit in training camp,” he said. “So, of course, the first play they run at me is a fullback lead. So after that play, I think I was all right.”

Bruschi was hospitalized Feb. 16 after the stroke, then had surgery to close a hole in his heart in March. He has been working out and attending team meetings since training camp began last July. He said in September he wouldn’t play this season, then changed his mind after consulting several doctors.

He remains on the physically unable to perform list but wasn’t among the 14 players listed on the Patriots’ injury report Wednesday.

“I feel I’m being evaluated by Coach Belichick, by my defensive coaches,” Bruschi said.

Belichick said Wednesday that Bruschi hasn’t suffered any setbacks since resuming practice, but didn’t know how ready he is for a game. He also said Bruschi is behind his teammates because he missed so many practices; can make up for that with his experience; and “did what everybody else did” at the practices.

The Patriots are 3-3, more losses than they had in each of the past two seasons when they won Super Bowls. Bruschi has said he can’t turn around the defense by himself.

But in his 10th season with the Patriots, he has an excellent grasp of their defense. He said Wednesday, “I believe my body’s physically ready” for a game.

New England has 21 days from Bruschi’s first practice, until Nov. 9, to activate him or place him on injured reserve, ending his season. If he misses the Nov. 7 home game against Indianapolis he still could be activated for the Nov. 13 game at Miami.

Bruschi has said he has no doubt he’ll play in a game this season.

His teammates say he’s already made a difference in practice.

“You hear him every time, every snap,” defensive lineman Jarvis Green said. “It’s just good to see him back out there after what he’s been through.”

Chad Brown, who moved from outside to inside linebacker this season, said watching Bruschi practice has helped his transition.

“His instincts are still there and that’s what separates him from other linebackers,” Brown said. “He’s just got a great feel for what everyone on the defense is doing, how the offense is trying to attack him. And couple that with his great instincts and that’s why he makes plays.”

Bruschi said he’s not setting any expectations and continues to judge his progress one day at a time.

“You can’t come to any judgments after one day of hitting,” he said before Wednesday’s workout, where he stretched and did agility drills during the 20 minutes the media were allowed to watch.

“I just look at it as a process,” he said. “Emotions are emotions and I felt them all, but really, it’s just about what I’m going to do today, how well did I do yesterday ... and just focus on playing football.”
 

MSNBC - Bruschi has first practice with contact

Bruschi makes it through first contact practice
NFL.com wire reports


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Oct. 26, 2005) -- Tedy Bruschi practiced again, two days after his first practice with contact in more than eight months since he had a mild stroke.

The New England Patriots linebacker, saying he felt like he usually does the day after such practices, added coach Bill Belichick will decide whether he will play Sunday night against the Buffalo Bills.

"I'd like to get out there and see," Bruschi said before practice, "but it's out of my control now. I'm back. I'm a player. I'm a member of the team. So I've trusted my coaches ever since I was in high school.

"Whatever my coach decides to do, I trust that."

Bruschi, who remains on the physically unable to perform list, returned to practice Oct. 19 after receiving medical clearance from several doctors. He had been working out and attending team meetings regularly in training camp and the regular season.

But he said he had no expectations about his upcoming activity.

"I'm not setting any because I'm sort of doing something I've never done before and that's jump into a season six, seven weeks in," Bruschi said.
 

NFL.com - New England Patriots Team News

Bruschi puts faith in coaches
Knows his return not of his control
By Jerome Solomon, Globe Staff | October 27, 2005


FOXBOROUGH -- There may be excitement in the air about the impending return of Tedy Bruschi to the playing field, but the Patriots linebacker said he is not excited. Not yet, that is.

The return to the practice field behind him, Bruschi is gearing up to join the active roster for what would be his first real game since helping the Patriots win the Super Bowl. Bruschi, who suffered a stroke eight months ago, hopes to be removed from the physically unable to perform list prior to Sunday night's game against Buffalo.

''Sure, I'd like to get out there, but it's out of my control," Bruschi said yesterday before practice. ''Now I'm back. I'm a player. I'm a member of the team.

''I've always believed and trusted my coaches, ever since I was in high school. I've always trusted my coaches' judgment. Whatever my coach decides to do, I trust that."

Even if Bruschi is going to play this week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick probably will not put Bruschi on the 53-man roster until Saturday. ''We'll make that decision later in the week," Belichick said. ''I don't know if we will or won't [activate Bruschi]."

Coming off a bye week, the Patriots (3-3) held a full-contact practice Monday, with Bruschi taking and delivering his first hits since the Pro Bowl Feb. 13. The first play in pads involving the 10-year veteran was a running play right at him with a fullback as lead blocker.

''After that play, I think I was all right," said Bruschi, who was hospitalized in mid-February after a mild stroke and had a procedure done to repair a hole in his heart in March. ''After one day of hitting, you can't come to any judgments."

Teammates say Bruschi has looked good. ''After being away from the game for as long as he has, his instincts are still there," linebacker Chad Brown said. ''That's what separates him from other linebackers. He's just got a great feel for what everyone on the defense is doing and how the offense is trying to attack 'em. That's how he makes plays."

Brown, who signed with the Patriots in May, knows he is the player most likely to lose playing time if Bruschi rejoins the lineup. Brown inadvertently placed himself on the second team by saying, ''My job is to back up Tedy Bruschi and help him in any way I can.

''There are only so many linebacker spots," Brown said. ''I assume the more he plays, the less I play. . . . I have to be prepared to play the whole game as I do every week."

Brown said simply having Bruschi on the practice field has helped his game. Brown leads the team in tackles, but he admits to struggling at inside linebacker in his first year in Belichick's system, after the majority of the past decade rushing quarterbacks as an outside linebacker.

Bruschi, 32, has been involved in team meetings and film study, but his on-field presence has already made a difference. ''Having an opportunity to watch Tedy practice, seeing how he does things, has helped," Brown said. ''He's not the biggest guy, he's not a Ted Johnson, a typical run-stopper. I see myself more physically in the Tedy mode than a Ted mode. So I'm trying to pick up some of the things he does.

''There's still lots of football left. I expect to get better, particularly watching Tedy play."

When will the world get to see Tedy play? Bruschi said he had no anxieties about contact, and the next-day aches and pains from Monday's workout were ''routine."

''After one day of hitting, you can't really come to any judgment," he said. ''I felt I had a good practice and we'll see how I do."

Belichick said Bruschi has done everything everyone else has done since his first practice Oct. 19, but as expected he is ''not where guys who've been practicing 10, 11, 12 weeks are.

''I think any player that hasn't played football for a while, and then comes back and tries to catch up to a lot of guys who have been playing on a regular basis, they're behind. They have to be," Belichick said. ''If they weren't, then we should cancel all the practices and just show up for the game."

A team source said Bruschi has spent much of the time in practice working with the first unit with Brown running second team. That may be partly a move to get a better look at where Bruschi is as a player, but Belichick and linebackers coach Dean Pees aren't likely to waste practice repetitions for a midseason tryout with the Patriots' first AFC East matchup looming. The team has until Nov. 9 to decide whether Bruschi will play this season.

''I feel I'm being evaluated," Bruschi said. ''My job is to play linebacker as best I can, and in practices I'm going to do that. I'm going to show them that I can play still. I can grasp the defense and I still have a knowledge of the defense.

''What they see from me on film and in practices is the decision they will make on how much playing time I'll get on Sunday."

Though he said he feels physically, emotionally, and mentally ready to play, he hasn't set high expectations or goals. ''I'm not setting any, because I'm sort of doing something I've never done before, and that's jump into a season six, seven weeks in," Bruschi said. ''It's really new to me, so it's new to me what to expect coming up -- today, tomorrow, the first game -- it's different for me right now jumping into a season. So I'm really trying not to put expectations on myself, or make goals on what I'm going to do during the game or anything."

Bruschi described himself as a realist in terms of where he stands compared with players who have been practicing since camp began in July. Yet he senses that he'll begin to get revved up about playing.

''It's Wednesday. I think I'll start to feel excited come the weekend, you know, [by] Friday's practice, the Saturday walkthrough, then I'll know what's coming," he said. ''I'm still remembering what my routines are, I'm jumping into it now.

''So I'm remembering what I do the day before the game, the day of the game, the day of Sunday night games. Getting into those routines, I'm sure the excitement will kick up a notch."

Jerome Solomon can be reached at jsolomon@globe.com
 

Bruschi puts faith in coaches - The Boston Globe

Gaub's gospel: Where have you gone, Tedy Bruschi?

By Adam Gaub
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 27, 2005


Heart.

In the physical sense, it is one of the organs most critical to keeping us alive. Yet one cannot describe how much greater the impact the literal heart makes in giving us reason to live.

While surgeons were able to repair the hole in the heart of Patriots linebacker and former Arizona football star Tedy Bruschi - a hole that caused Bruschi to have a stroke in February - all the surgeons in the world could never repair the hole still left in Bruschi's life.

The sport that had become a part of who he was still called to him, and Bruschi answered, returning to practice for the first time this season last week after being cleared by multiple team and private doctors.

Football could never be more important than his wife and three young children, whom Bruschi had trouble seeing after his stroke blurred his vision for a few months during his recovery. But with a few good years of his career ahead of him, Bruschi could not so easily be content by filling that football hole in his life with watching from the sidelines.

Bruschi continues to practice with the Patriots' first-string defense in preparation for their game Sunday against Buffalo, after having a bye on Oct. 23.

The 32-year-old Bruschi has been filling holes his entire sporting career, intimidating running backs and quarterbacks alike as a huge part of Arizona's ferocious "Desert Swarm" defense from 1992-95, before plugging up gaps for the two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and as a first-time Pro Bowl selection in February.

Bruschi was a legend at Arizona, swarming the field to make tackles, with a chant of "BRREWWWWWWWSKIIIIIIIIIIIII" sure to follow the announcer's voice every time Bruschi had just grounded another opponent.

Fans in the stands actually looked forward to defense on the field, and not just because the offense was so bad that it was unbearable to watch.

In the Dick Tomey era in which Bruschi played, Arizona was renowned across the college football world for its defense, garnering high accolades, including being picked as the preseason No. 1 in 1994, with Bruschi and other members of the Swarm gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated.

People knew names of the defenders back then and recited them with pride. Bruschi, Bouie, Salave'a, Sanders and Waldrop highlighted a Wildcat defense that gave opposing teams' offensive coordinators nightmares weeks before the game.

Under John Mackovic, the Desert Swarm became the Desert Lukewarm.

Defense was traded for offense, as Mackovic was contented to let Jason Johnson, now a third-string quarterback for the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos, air out the ball in what became a Wild West-type shootout that Arizona lost more than it won.

Even now under the leadership of defense-minded head coach Mike Stoops, the Arizona defense still lacks the big names that it once had under the Desert Swarm. The fans have seemingly forgotten Tomey's style of play, which kept Arizona competitive, if not good, for his entire tenure at Arizona.

The Wildcats do not need freshman quarterback Willie Tuitama as much as some people would think (although I will give it up to him for having a great game against Oregon).

What they need is a leader on defense, one who makes a name for himself for an entire year, with other guys stepping up around him to inspire fear, rather than moderate respect, from opposing offenses. A guy like Bruschi. A guy who can't be kept down, who holds a burning desire to play the game he loves, not a lustful passion for the money the NFL pays him to play it.

Think of any quarterback in the 1990s at Arizona who ever went on to do anything. Better yet, make it the $1,000 "Jeopardy" question - name two Arizona quarterbacks who played anytime between 1990 and 1999. Give up?

Try names like George Malauulu, Dan White, Brady Batten and Keith Smith. The only one who may ring a bell was Ortege Jenkins, made famous by his last-second, end-over-end flip into the end zone to beat Washington.

The point is that Arizona had some of its best football teams in the '90s, and the offense certainly wasn't the reason why. If we want to build our program back to prominence, Stoops has got to stop placating the fans by trying to garner big-name offensive recruits and do what he should do best: Rebuild our defense.

There are guys who have been good in spots: Darrell Brooks, Copeland Bryan and Dane Krogstad, to name a few. And it is true that the Wildcats' defense has been devastated by injuries all year long, making it tough for the guys to build up that solid "D" we so desperately need.

Yet it simply comes down to having guys with flat-out heart for the game.

Bruschi couldn't be kept off the football field for long because once his physical heart had been healed, his heart for the game carried him the rest of the way.

"There were times, in my mind, I thought I was done," Bruschi said to reporters at a news conference on Oct. 17, according to The Associated Press. "If I could express to you what this means to me (to return) I would, but I don't know if I really can."

To build a championship-caliber team, we need more guys like Bruschi - guys who have the heart of a champion.

Adam Gaub is a journalism senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

Arizona Daily Wildcat - Gaub's gospel: Where have you gone, Tedy Bruschi? - Wednesday, October 27, 2005

Bruschi just about ready to infuse N.E. defense with Patriotic spirit

FOXBORO, Mass. — For decades, "Teddy Ballgame" referred strictly to Ted Williams, baseball's last .400 hitter. Then, amid New England's march to three Super Bowl titles in the past four seasons, the sobriquet was altered to "Tedy Ballgame" and assigned to Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

That deference stemmed from Bruschi's gift for making game-changing plays that personified New England's attack in the same way Williams was defined for Boston Red Sox fans by his unerring batting stroke.

Now, if Bruschi meets his goal of being back on the field Sunday night against the Buffalo Bills after he was medically cleared, the nickname will take on new, indelible meaning for a man who is all too familiar with the other definition of stroke.

Only eight months have passed since the nine-year NFL veteran went from being able to read Peyton Manning's pass plays to losing vision in his left eye from a stroke. Just two days after his first Pro Bowl appearance, a blood clot slipped through a tiny hole in what many believe is the biggest of Patriot hearts, found its way to the 32-year-old's brain and left the father of three sons barely able to walk.

Despite recovering quickly, Bruschi emphatically said in September that a comeback would have to wait until 2006. But last week he announced he had medical clearance to play and stressed his decision to return was neither rash nor life-threatening.

"Unanimously, every doctor and physician that's seen me has given me clearance," Bruschi said.

"This isn't something you just go for. I mean, come on, I lost my sight. ... It was a traumatic experience. It's been a long road back. I'm not going to jump into something without being absolutely 100% positive, and I am."

Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Duke Stroke Center and a spokesman for the American Stroke Association, says eight months is not an unusually short recovery period for a stroke survivor.

"The most rapid recovery period is over the first few weeks, and it continues rapidly for two to three months," Goldstein says.

He adds: "Most stroke victims who survive recover, and they recover to varying degrees. ... It really depends on how bad they were to begin with."

Goldstein says getting immediate treatment, preferably within three hours of the stroke, "can significantly reduce the chance of being disabled. ... We say time lost is brain lost."

Bruschi was at home when his stroke hit, and his wife, Heidi, whose father is a physician's assistant, quickly called 911.

"I'm not shocked that he's back," says fellow Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, who fractured his hip in 2003 but makes no comparisons to his season-long recovery and what Bruschi has faced. "What I've seen him do, no, I'm not shocked."

Like everyone in the Patriots' locker room, Colvin addresses Bruschi's return as inevitable, even though Bruschi has yet to be activated for Sunday's game. Colvin says there was no great attention paid to No. 54 at Monday's practice, when Bruschi had his first contact session since the Pro Bowl.

"'Hey Tedy, how you doing? Good to see you.' That was about it," Colvin says. "Business as usual."

"I hope he comes out there and rocks it. He can add 54, the things that he knows, the way he plays the game, the way he has played the game. I hope he can bring that back to us."

Comebacks not too successful

Two high-profile examples of professional athletes attempting comebacks after strokes in the last quarter-century don't offer an encouraging prognosis for Bruschi.

Bruschi makes presence known

In 1980, Houston Astros pitcher J.R. Richard was accused of being lazy when he complained of arm pain and tests detected no problem. Then Richard's stroke hit, just weeks after the right-hander started the All-Star Game.

Richard was 30, had been a 20-game winner in 1976 and had recorded 300-strikeout seasons in 1978 and '79. A minor league comeback bid failed in 1983, and he was homeless in the '90s when a Houston Post reporter found him living under a bridge and told his story. Friends helped Richard get his life back together.

In hockey, Brian Mullen had a mild stroke at 31 in 1993 and tried a comeback with the New York Islanders in 1994 after surgery to correct a heart problem that caused the stroke. He was progressing but suffered a seizure at practice. Despite getting medical clearance to resume play, no team was willing to take a chance.

Last week, in an interview with Boston Globe reporter Ron Borges, Mullen said: "Some of the top doctors in the world told me I was fine. There would be no problem going back to play."

He added: "In hindsight I wish I'd pushed a little harder to play again, but I didn't. I knew in my heart I could make it back, but I didn't get a second chance. ... I wish I'd proven I could have done it."

Mullen told the Globe he has had two additional seizures, which he attributed to changes in his medication, but no subsequent strokes.

There is one pro athlete who suffered a stroke and then had the best year of his career in a sport that sometimes involves taking hits from a 250-pound calf.

In April 2003, Stran Smith suffered a stroke that, like Bruschi's was attributed to a blood clot passing through a hole in his heart. Last year Smith was the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's world runner-up in tie-down roping, where he jumps off a horse that's running at 20 mph and ties up and brings down a calf.

Talking from his 40-acre ranch in Childress, Texas, in the northern part of the state, Smith says doctors initially "told me I needed to find another occupation."

But Smith and his wife, Jennifer, kept consulting with doctors and decided the best course of action was surgery to have a plug-like device placed in the hole in his heart. Bruschi has confirmed having similar surgery in March.

Smith, who was left unable to utter a sound by the stroke but now speaks rapid-fire, offers what he calls a "Cowboy Logic" explanation of the surgery:

"It's like putting a patch on a tire. They put a patch on the device, and they put another patch on top of that. Now it's three-ply instead of one-ply. ... You're not going to have a blood clot pass through that hole in your heart and go to your brain ever again. Once that seals and it's together, there's no chance you're going to knock it loose."

As for Bruschi, Smith says, "I really believe he's in a lot better shape now than he's ever been in his life. I think people who are calling him selfish need to go get educated about it before they start pointing fingers."

Smith hasn't spoken with Bruschi but says his advice is, "Go all out, get that first hit out of the way and go on. Let everybody know it, that 'I'm here. I'm back.'"

Pats' defense needs a spark

Bruschi has been working out with the Patriots and attending team meetings since training camp. He concedes that resuming full contact Monday "felt like the first day of training camp," but he adds, "I believe my body is physically ready" to return to a 3-3 team that clearly needs him.

New England's defense has yielded 97 points in its last three games. During last season's 6-0 start, the Patriots gave up 90 points. The defense also is in a last-place tie with winless Houston for fewest forced turnovers (three).

New England has until 4 p.m. ET Saturday to activate Bruschi for Sunday's prime-time ESPN game against 3-4 rival Buffalo. Head coach Bill Belichick has been his typical non-committal self on Bruschi's return, saying, "We'll take it day-to-day and see where it goes," and "I'm not going to do a minute-by-minute evaluation."

But the usually terse Belichick made his admiration for Bruschi apparent last season after Bruschi recovered two fumbles in a 20-3 playoff victory against Indianapolis.

"He is the kind of guy you always want on the field because if something unexpected happens like that, he almost always does the right thing," Belichick told reporters.

Buffalo head coach Mike Mularkey is preparing as if New England will have its defensive co-captain back in place.

"He's got grit. Given a chance to come back and play, I would have been very surprised if he would have turned that chance down," Mularkey says.

"That's the kind of guy he is, the kind of player he is. He's an emotional leader, and I know guys feed off that emotion. I can't say enough about him."

 

USATODAY.com - Bruschi just about ready to infuse N.E. defense with Patriotic spirit

Pats Press Release 10/29/05:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots activated linebacker Tedy Bruschi off the reserve physically unable to perform list to the team's active roster today. The team now reports the league limit of 53 players on their roster.
Bruschi, 32, was placed on the physically unable to perform list on July 28, prior to the opening of training camp. On October 19, following the sixth week of the 2005 NFL season, Bruschi began practicing with the team.

Last year, Bruschi started every game for the Patriots and finished second on the team with 128 total tackles and second on the team with three interceptions. After helping the Patriots to their third Super Bowl Championship in four years, Bruschi earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. In nine years, Bruschi has started 88 of 136 games for the Patriots and has totaled 768 career tackles, including 24 career sacks. He has also forced 17 fumbles and picked off 11 passes, including 10 interceptions in the last four seasons.



 

Patriots' Bruschi eligible to play Sunday
JIMMY GOLEN
Associated Press


The New England Patriots activated linebacker Tedy Bruschi from the physically unable to perform list on Saturday afternoon, making him eligible to play in Sunday night's game against the Buffalo Bills.

Coach Bill Belichick has said that once Bruschi was on the active roster, he would be treated like any other player. Whether Bruschi starts is expected to be determined by the Bills' offensive lineup for the first series.

Bruschi has not played since February, when a minor stroke three days after the Pro Bowl put his career in jeopardy. The two-time defending Super Bowl champions put him on the reserve-PUP list, which left open the possibility of his return after the sixth week of the season.

He had to be activated by 4 p.m. Saturday to be eligible to play in the Patriots' (3-3) game against Buffalo (3-4).

Bruschi, 32, said this summer that he planned to sit out the entire year. But he continued to attend meetings and his recovery went well enough for him to come back early; he was cleared by doctors and back at practice Oct. 19.

"It's out of my control now," Bruschi said before practice on Wednesday. "I'm back. I'm a player. I'm a member of the team. So I've trusted my coaches ever since I was in high school."

Belichick said this week that Bruschi hasn't suffered any setbacks in practice, but he was behind his teammates because he missed so many.

"His instincts are still there and that's what separates him from other linebackers," linebacker Chad Brown said. "He's just got a great feel for what everyone on the defense is doing, how the offense is trying to attack him. And couple that with his great instincts and that's why he makes plays."

New England had until Nov. 9 - 21 days from Bruschi's first practice - to activate him or place him on injured reserve and end his season. He has said he has no doubt he'll play in a game this season.

"I just look at it as a process," Bruschi said this week. "Emotions are emotions and I felt them all, but really, it's just about what I'm going to do today, how well did I do yesterday ... and just focus on playing football."
 

AP Wire | 10/29/2005 | Patriots' Bruschi eligible to play Sunday

Bruschi's return provides lift
By Tom Casale


There was excitement in the air. There was a little extra bounce in everyone's step. Guys were laughing and joking around. Pro Bowl linebacker and defensive leader Tedy Bruschi was returning and the mood at Gillette Stadium had changed. You could feel it.

“It's great news,” defensive end Jarvis Green said. “He's been here a long time and done a lot of great things. It would be a plus for any team for a guy like that to come back.”

You would be hard-pressed to find a player who disagreed with Green. The Patriots defense has really struggled so far this season. It hasn't been able to pressure the quarterback, there have been too many breakdowns in the secondary and teams have been able to run right up the middle. The most alarming thing going into the bye week is the Patriots have only forced three turnovers in six games. With Bruschi's return, the team is hoping that will change.

“He has made his fair share of big plays here,” linebacker Mike Vrabel said. “Game-winning and game-changing plays. So when you look at it that way, we are getting a guy who can come in and make those kind of plays and help us.”

When asked how he expected Bruschi to perform in his first game back, Vrabel joked, “Probably 10-12 tackles and maybe half a sack. Seriously, Tedy is a great football player and he is going to help us get better. His presence alone is going to help us.”

Having Bruschi back in the middle of the Patriots defense is certainly a plus but he is by no means a cure-all. The Patriots have other problems on defense besides middle linebacker. Bruschi told the media on the day of his return that he is a middle linebacker and all he can do is come in and play that position to the best of his ability. The other 10 players on defense still need to do their jobs for the defense to be successful, something outside linebacker Rosevelt Colvin was quick to point out.

“I think Tedy is a very unique player,” Colvin said. “But Tedy can't play all 11 positions. You need 10 other guys out there doing their job. If you have nine guys doing the right thing and two guys doing the wrong thing, a good offense will expose that.”

While Bruschi's return has given the team a lift off the field, it's not certain how his presence on the field will change the Patriots defense. In his first practice back with the team, Bruschi lined up alongside Vrabel as the starting inside linebackers, with Colvin and Tully Banta-Cain, who presumably was filling in for an injured Willie McGinest, playing on the outside. This may be the Patriots best option to help provide a pass rush and create more turnovers.

Bruschi, Vrabel and McGinest are a close group that has been through a lot together. Both veterans were excited to see their teammate coming back to do what he loves: play football.

“He is a big part of our linebacking crew,” McGinest said. “We are just excited to have him back and have him out there playing football again, doing something he loves. I know what he brings to this team and I know what he brings to this defense and what being back means to him. He'll be back doing the same things he always has.”

Vrabel was equally excited to see his fellow linebacker back in action. “I think it's awesome,” he said. “I think it's great to have him back. For him to come to this decision and be with this football team really means a lot.”

Neither Bruschi nor Bill Belichick would comment on whether or not he would be available for the Patriots next game against the Buffalo Bills. Both said they are going to take things day by day and make a decision when the time is right.

Another question surrounding Bruschi is whether he will be able to come back and do the things he did before his stroke. It was only eight months ago he needed help walking out of the hospital. According to Vrabel and McGinest, they fully expect to see the hard-nosed linebacker once the ball is snapped.

“I think Tedy has kept himself in great shape,” Vrabel said. “Just listening to what he's had to say about it, it's not something that he just decided. This is something that I'm sure has been thought about and has been planned. He'll be ready to go.”

“He'll be all right,” McGinest added. “Tedy is Tedy. He's going to bring his energy and his excitement and his playmaking ability. That's not going to change. We expect that from him and that's what he brings to the table.”

The return of Bruschi provides hope for a defense desperately searching for answers going into its bye week. Whether or not Bruschi's return is enough to turn around one of the worst defenses, statistically, in the NFL remains to be seen. One thing for sure is every Patriot is thrilled to have Bruschi back on the field to help the team defend the Super Bowl title.

One only needs to hear the comments made by his coach to understand what Bruschi means to the Patriots.

“It's good to have him back,” Belichick said. “He has been a significant part of our team's success. I love Tedy Bruschi. I love him.” PFW
 

Patriots Football Weekly

Bruschi back in the middle of things
By Tom Casale


Going into the bye week, the Patriots ranked last in the AFC giving up 164 points through six games. With the defense struggling and battling injuries, it wasn't easy to find a silver lining. Then, the Patriots got just what the doctors ordered: a healthy Tedy Bruschi. Only eight months after suffering a stroke, the Patriots defensive leader is ready to come back and help the team defend its Super Bowl title.

Bruschi was given clearance to resume practicing with the team after surgeons corrected the heart defect they believed caused his stroke in February.

“Unanimously, every doctor and physician that's seen me has given me clearance,” Bruschi said. “It's been a long road to rehabilitation; mentally, physically and emotionally. It's been a long way back and here I am.”

Bruschi's medical team, headed by Dr. David Greer of Massachusetts General Hospital, believes Bruschi suffered the stroke because of a tiny hole in his heart that allowed a small blood clot to travel from his leg up to his brain.

According to Greer, Bruschi is now completely healthy. “Physically, Tedy is back to normal and exceptionally healthy. I have no doubt that he will be able to perform physically at a very high level.”

Bruschi's return couldn't have come at a better time for the Patriots. The team has not only missed his production on the field, but the leadership he provides off it. However, the team's inconsistent start is not the reason Bruschi decided to return this season. The linebacker said a lot of things went into making this important decision.

“I couldn't let how the team was doing affect my mindset on my rehabilitation,” the Pro Bowler said. “This isn't something you just go for. This is something you make sure everything's right. I mean come on, I lost my sight ... I'm not going into something without being absolutely 100 percent positive and I am. I would never want to put what I have with my family at risk because first and foremost I'm a family man.”

At the press conference announcing his return, Bruschi thanked his teammates, his family, his fans and the Patriots organization for all their support. On the eve of Bruschi's announcement, the team released a statement saying, “The Patriots organization is satisfied that Tedy Bruschi has received the best medical attention possible and has been assured that he is medically cleared to resume his playing career ... The Kraft family and the entire Patriots organization want only what is best for Tedy Bruschi and his family and will continue to support his decision.”

Bruschi didn't say if he would be ready to play in the Patriots next game against Buffalo on Oct. 30. “I'm aiming to practice,” he said. “That's what I'm aiming to do. I'm excited to put my helmet on. That's what I'm excited to do right now.”

He returns to a defense that is giving up 353.3 yards per game. Chad Brown and Monty Beisel have played well at times but the team has missed the consistency and playmaking abilities that Bruschi brings to the middle linebacker position. Bruschi is coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he recorded 128 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions. Another advantage the veteran has is he has been in this system since Bill Belichick arrived in New England, unlike Brown and Beisel who were brought in by the Patriots this offseason.

Bruschi is confident he can come back and help the Patriots immediately. “I wouldn't be standing here in front of you if I didn't think I could play football,” Bruschi said. “I have confidence. I know my physical abilities and what I can do.”

There is no question Bruschi's return provides a spark to a defense that desperately needs something to get it jump-started. The defensive captain is adamant that he has talked everything over with his wife, Heidi, and the entire family supports his decision to return this season. He also appreciates the concern of his fans but says he's been checked over by a number of doctors and this is the right time for him to come back to the sport he loves.

“I'm a football player,” Bruschi said. “It's what I do. Playing the game is the most fun thing about it. There are meetings, practices and training sessions you have to go through but playing football and being part of this team — the New England Patriots team — is something I feel special about.

“The game. The game is what I missed.”

And the game missed Tedy Bruschi as well. PFW
 

Patriots Football Weekly

Don't expect Bruschi to do it all
By Paul Perillo


Tedy Bruschi is back - back in uniform, back on the practice field and, if all goes well, back in the middle of the Patriots struggling defense.

His return to action just eight months after suffering a stroke two days after playing in the first Pro Bowl of his nine-year career is a surprise. Anyone who watched him walk gingerly out of Massachusetts General Hospital with the aid of his wife, Heidi, back in February had to pretty much write off the linebacker at least for the 2005 season. And two months later, when he appeared at Opening Day as part of the Red Sox World Series celebration, he still looked weak and a was shell of his former self.

So to be talking about Bruschi returning to full NFL action, just six months later, is fairly remarkable.

However, this isn't the latest should-he-or-shouldn't-he column regarding Bruschi's return. Tedy's a grown man with a wife and three children. At 32 years of age he's more than capable of making important decisions for himself without my advice. He sought the opinions of some of the best medical personnel available to him and from that he's determined this is the right time to resume his playing career. All I can do is support him and wish him the best.

What does concern me regarding this situation is the notion that somehow Bruschi will serve as some magic elixir for all that ails the struggling Patriots defense. He's a terrific playmaker and his reputation as an inspirational figure among the defense is well deserved, but that's asking a little too much of any individual.

Right now, New England's problems run far beyond anything one player alone can fix.

“I don't think one man can do a lot,” fellow linebacker Rosevelt Colvin said after the Patriots loss at Denver. “Will he provide us with a burst of energy? Sure. But if you go out and lay down it doesn't matter if you have Superman out there. This has been a roller coaster all season. Ups and downs every week. Keep doing that and we'll be 8-8 and out of the playoffs.”

And that would be the case with or without Bruschi. I know how well Tedy has played the last several seasons. He always seemed to come up with huge momentum-turning plays at exactly the right time. Whenever a key turnover was forced, it was a safe bet that No. 54 was close by.

While all of that is true, unless Bruschi can play safety or defensive end or cornerback, his impact on the defense won't be as large as many people are hoping.

“Tedy can't play all 11 positions out there,” Colvin said. “You need 10 other guys out there doing their job. If you have nine guys doing the right thing and two guys doing the wrong thing, a good offense will expose that.”

And through six games of the 2005 season, color the Patriots defense exposed. Can Bruschi step into his spot at inside linebacker and help shore up an area that has been suspect thus far? Absolutely. His instincts and ability to perform a variety of roles were sorely lacking during the first six games. He'll help out the run defense (which really wasn't too bad in the first place) and he'll add to the team's ability to pressure the passer as well as in coverage and creating turnovers.

But he won't be able to replace Rodney Harrison, whose absence in the middle of the defense may have been the team's biggest hit of them all thus far. Guss Scott (now on IR) and James Sanders are promising youngsters but neither is ready to even think about filling Harrison's shoes.

Also, Eugene Wilson appears to have been affected by Harrison's loss. Wilson looked like a budding Pro Bowler but since Harrison went down has looked a lot more like Tebucky Jones than Ed Reed. Teams have exploited the secondary with big plays — even before Harrison went down. Bruschi alone isn't going to stop that from happening in the future.

“People continue to talk about this guy's not there, that guy's not there,” Colvin continued. “It doesn't matter if we don't play our techniques. I don't think one man can do a whole lot if guys continue to play the wrong gaps and blow coverages and not make tackles. Tedy is not a one-man defense.”

Unfortunately, that is how he is being perceived in some circles. Many fans and well-wishers weighed in on Bruschi's return during the week following the announcement, and most included their opinions on how he would “fix the problems” facing New England's defense.

Thankfully, those circles don't run around Gillette Stadium. Colvin wasn't alone in discussing Bruschi's potential impact. Mike Vrabel and Willie McGinest voiced similar sentiments, and Bill Belichick was quick to point out how impossible it was to gauge how and when Bruschi would be able to help.

The bye week has come at a fortuitous time for both Bruschi and the team, giving Belichick and Eric Mangini extra time to make such determinations.

But expecting Bruschi to come in and shore up the struggling secondary, the dormant pass rush, the paucity of turnovers — not to mention jumpstart a sagging running game — is unrealistic at best. It's going to take a lot more than just Tedy Bruschi to do all that.
 

Patriots Football Weekly

Tedy Bruschi Press Conference New England Patriots
Tedy Bruschi addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium.


Q: How does it feel to be back?

BB: It feels good. You know, I'm back to doing what I love. And to get this game under my belt meant a lot to me in terms of just playing again, for one. First and foremost, I am happy we won the game. Relief, because there was so much going on going into this, and so much I had to do coming into this game and jumping into the season in the sixth week into the season, you know, after I got activated off PUP, the seventh week of the year is something I have never done before. So relief, you know, just feeling good about the win. Glad to be back playing football and all those things.

Q: How were you able to handle so many plays? They had you out there a long time.

BB: You know, towards the end of the game maybe a little bit. But I did play a lot of plays, you know, because that's just the way the game went. I sort of didn't just jump into this. You know, I tried to physically prepare myself the best I could coming into this game, knowing that playing a lot was a possibility, and I just didn't decide a few weeks ago that I was going to play. You know, I have been training for this for a long time and I think that training helped me today. But I still think, being the first game back, that it felt like the first game back, and I still think I can get better. And conditioning wise, sure, sure, I mean it's my first game of the year, what do you expect? And just playing a little bit better, I think, I can almost get better doing that.

Q: Tedy, that first hit, what was it like to take that first hit?

BB: The first hit, I mean it really happened so fast that I didn't really realize it. I was in the game. I think my first hit in practice this week was more of a sort of just checking if I was still all right, you know. But during the game, I was ready. I was ready mentally and physically and emotionally. Sometimes you just got to pick yourself up off the ground and get back to living your life, and that is all I am trying to do.

Q: How much did the fans inspire you?

BB: They inspired me so much from the day I had my stroke. You know, the fans, the e-mails and the letters they sent to me, all of the stroke victims telling me their stories was very inspirational to me. And the reception out there tonight was incredible. I mean the fans, this is the only place I have known. I mean I have been playing 10 years and I haven't played anywhere else, so I feel like I have a good relationship with the fans here and I appreciate all the support they gave me.

Q: Tedy, what type of connection did you deal with with Heidi (BB) tonight?

BB: Just the connection of, 'Baby, we've come a long way and we've come a long way together.' And we've had conversations constantly about how we're going to do this or what is the next step. And you know, she has been by my side ever since we got married. You know, she is a wonderful wife and she is strong willed. And I think her being an ex-athlete, she is an ex-athlete also, she played volleyball and softball at Arizona also, she is really mentally strong and she can help me out at times of weakness, because I have had them and she has been there for me so I can lean on her. And just to see her in the stands, I know where she sits, and she is hard to miss with that blonde hair, but it is easy to find her. And I can see her smiling from way down where I am because I believe we were feeling the same emotions tonight and I believe we will continue to feel the same emotions for the rest of our lives.

Q: Tedy, speaking about emotions, with all the Super Bowls and all that, talk about the emotional high today.

BB: Well, I really had to consider this like a Super Bowl really because I had to contain myself really from not getting too high. I mean usually when you play in the Super Bowl, all the Super Bowls we've had, there is so much time going up to the game so you had to contain yourself and just calm yourself and not get too caught up in the emotion. And I tried to draw from that experience going into this game. Still, I was sitting in my locker thinking that those minutes were very, very slow moving into game time, and I wish it would have happened faster at times because I got here very early. I got here very early and I sort of contained myself because this was a very big game for me to go out and not just, not just show that I could play, but help this team win. I think I helped us win.

Q: Tedy, from all the things that your teammates said to you or that you saw, what sense do you have for the impact that you had on all the other guys?

BB: The guys are really good about just telling me privately about what it meant to them. And they have, I mean Tom (Brady), Jarvis (Green), Deion (Branch), all the guys that even came and saw me in the hospital at the Mass General until now, the support I get from (Mike) Vrabel and Willie (McGinest), I have got a lot of support from Ted (Johnson) during my time too. You know, it was my teammates are really a part of my family because, shoot, I mean you're around people so much and so long every day. You know, the football season, we're here more than we are at home. And they are truly like my family to me and they have been supportive to me just like my family has.

Q: What impact do you think you have had on them tonight?

BB: I don't know. I don't know how I would impact them or anyone else out there. But like I said earlier, I mean, there was a time in my recuperation and healing where I just had to tell myself it is just time to get up and live your life the way you want to live. What are you going to do? And I wanted to pick myself up off the ground. And I am a football player by trade, it is what I do, so I did everything I could to make myself a football player again. I gathered all the information and made sure I was safe playing football again. And so once I did that, there was a question of what are you going to do. And I felt like I wanted to get back to living my life and playing football.

Q: Tedy, can you talk about the fourth quarter, talk about yourself emotionally and with this team defense to produce that win.

BB: I just see Rosevelt Colvin making a play to win the game. And that is something that has been indicative of our team in the past where you don't know who it is going to be, but somebody is going to do it. And you know, we are in the huddle talking about it's time to do something, somebody do something. You know, everybody wants to take it upon themselves to make a big play to help the team win. And you never know when it is going to happen. But I didn't even see Rosevelt. I had my back turned to the guy or I was covering man-to-man, but Rosie came and made the play. And he was the guy tonight, and hopefully there will be other people, other guys that do that many times for the rest of the year.

Q: Tedy, with all the time you have to think, have you yet been able to grasp the magnitude of what you have accomplished, not just as a football player but as a human being in the eyes of people that you have been able to overcome this and the inspiration?

BB: I have thought about that. And like I said, there is just we have all gone through things in our lives. You know, it is all different. You know, I had a stroke, you know? I am sure people have lost loved ones or something happened, some other type of injury or something like that, and there comes a point where you just can't feel sorry for yourself anymore. You know, the minute I had my stroke and my doctor told me, I just wanted to know where we go from here, where we go from here and how do I get back. And I don't know how it has affected other people out there or anyone else, but mental toughness is something I pride myself on. And if you have support from friends and family and teammates, it is possible to overcome any obstacle. It is something that...I love my family and I love my sons, and it is something to where I don't like the saying 'Don't do as I do, do as I say.' I've heard that before. I want to tell my kids when they are older that when they are faced with an opportunity to take a chance in life or overcome obstacles or picking themselves up off the ground, my three sons, and it is either you get busy living or you just get busy dying. You know, and I like to say that I could give them experience from what I lived myself. I just want to tell them, you know, go for it, go for it, you know, you can do anything you want in life. I want to be able to have experiences myself where I am able to teach them those lessons because I have lived them myself.

Q: Tedy, was there any one or two special moments that jumps out of your mind from the whole course of the evening?

BB: Making my first tackle. You know, I think it was on the second or third play of the game maybe. I don't know when it was and making a tackle and I guess one time when there was a pile, there was a pile and I was on the bottom of a pile, and knowing my wife was watching me, to get up fast, it was to get up as fast as I could. Because I am the guy that gets up slow usually, you know, it is just the way I am. I get up slow, you know, take inventory. But having a little bit of background with what I went through, I am going to try to get up a little faster.

Q: Welcome back, Tedy.

BB: Thank you.


Official Website of the New England Patriots

Bruschi Return Doesn't Cure Pats' Ills
Monday, October 31, 2005
(10-31) 14:15 PST FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) --



The return of linebacker Tedy Bruschi, while inspirational, didn't cure all the New England Patriots' ailments.

"There certainly was room for improvement there," coach Bill Belichick said Monday, hours after the Patriots rallied from nine points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Buffalo Bills 21-16 on Sunday night. "I'm not saying that was any masterpiece."

It was good enough, though, to solidify the Patriots' hold on first place in the AFC East. At 4-3 they have the upper hand on division foes Miami (3-4), Buffalo (3-5) and the New York Jets (2-5).

They also have Bruschi back, 8 1/2 months after the linebacker suffered a mild stroke days after playing in his first Pro Bowl. He later had surgery to repair a small hole in his heart.

The defensive captain logged plenty of playing time in his return because the Bills held the ball for almost 40 minutes. He was credited with seven tackles, and several teammates said his presence energized them.

"Every time he made a play you heard the fans yelling and that pumped us up," defensive end Jarvis Green said. "He is the same old guy."

An important guy.

"It was certainly a positive having him out there," Belichick said. "I'm sure he'll play a little bit better the next time. It was his first time out all year. He's got a little bit of catching up to do, but he still gave us a good lift and performed well."

Even though Bruschi started practicing only two weeks ago, he regularly has attended defensive meetings since training camp and has been working out at the team's facility for several months.

With Bruschi back, the defense rediscovered its knack for the big play, forcing two turnovers, including Rosevelt Colvin's sack and fumble recovery that set up the winning score. Cornerback Asante Samuel's third-quarter interception was the Patriots' first takeaway in 17 quarters, dating back to a Week 3 win in Pittsburgh.

The Patriots also forced the Bills to settle for field goals on each of their three trips inside the 20-yard line. New England entered the game with the league's worst red zone defense.

On the other hand, the Patriots allowed 147 yards on the ground. They also let Eric Moulds catch nine passes for 125 yards and watched Buffalo convert seven of its 14 third-down opportunities.

The Patriots know those numbers don't bode well for next Monday's home game against unbeaten Indianapolis. The Patriots know they will have to contain Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison, something they've done in recent meetings with the Colts, especially in the playoffs.

"We can do a lot of things better," linebacker Willie McGinest said. "We have one of the best teams — if not the best team — in football right now coming in here next week. We have our hands full. If we don't get better, there are going to be some problems."
 

Bruschi Return Doesn't Cure Pats' Ills

 

Same old Bruschi
By Karen Guregian
Monday, October 31, 2005 - Updated: 07:52 AM EST


FOXBORO – Bobby Orr came back from numerous knee surgeries. Larry Bird returned from debilitating back woes. Tony Conigliaro stepped back up to the plate after a horrific beaning.

But nothing in local sports legend or lore compares to what unfolded at Gillette Stadium last night.

Tedy Bruschi was back on the field, eight months after suffering a mild stroke. Video of him leaving the hospital in February showed him to be rubbery-legged, needing the support of his wife Heidi to make it to the car. We later learned along with numbness in his legs, he had partially lost his sight.

Last night, with his gait sure and steady, his vision fully returned, he was back in his old spot at inside linebacker, back as the heart and soul of the Patriots defense. That juxtaposition alone borders on miraculous.

Some people had goose bumps just imagining what the atmosphere would be like when Bruschi ran out with the team, bursting out from the gigantic, inflatable Patriots helmet.

With flashbulbs going off all around the stadium, the defense emerged from the tunnel. The PA announcer listed off all the names of the starters, concluding with the name everyone waited to hear: TEDY BRUSCHI.

A hopping Bruschi raised his right arm to acknowledge the roars of the crowd once he hit midfield.

And wouldn’t you know, on Buffalo’s first play from scrimmage – a run by Willis McGahee – No. 54 was in on the tackle. He made his first solo tackle on the third play. With his wife looking on from the stands, Bruschi took almost every defensive snap during the Pats’ 21-16 victory over the Bills. He was also in on punt coverage and kick returns.

In all, he was in for 76 plays. He registered two solo tackles and five assists.

He didn’t look out of place, or out of sorts. In fact, he looked pretty darn good, playing with his usual sense of reckless abandon.

“He’s going to be sore tomorrow,” Pats quarterback Tom Brady cracked of Bruschi, who admitted to being tired toward the end of the game.

Not that anyone would blame him.

Bruschi said with all the buildup, hype and personal elements involved with last night’s game, he prepared as if he were playing the Super Bowl.

“I got here very early and I sort of contained myself because this was a very big game for me to go out and not just show that I could play, but help this team win,” Bruschi said. “And I think I helped us win.”

Admittedly, when the game was over, he did feel a sense a relief when he emerged without incident. While there was plenty of joy concerning his return, there was also some fear and trepidation for those watching him play. Not everyone thinks Bruschi’s decision to play football again is a wise one, even with the blessing of some of the finest specialists in the country.

He is well aware of that. But he and his family are comfortable with his call, and so, apparently, are the Patriots, who didn’t have the linebacker sign any type of liability waiver before taking the field. As for his impact, well, he did help the Pats win, but let’s just say the defense still had issues even with him in there.

McGahee wound up rushing for 136 yards while quarterback Kelly Holcomb threw for 263. The game was very much in doubt until the final minutes.

The only difference with Bruschi in there, was the fact that finally, the defense was able to make a big play to turn a game around. While it’s usually his role, he wasn’t the one who made the strip sack and fumble recovery in the fourth quarter, but that didn’t matter.

“I just see Rosevelt Colvin making a play to win the game,” Bruschi said. “And that is something that has been indicative of our team in the past where you don’t know who it’s going to be, but somebody is going to do it.”
 

BostonHerald.com - Patriots & NFL: Same old Bruschi

 

Patriots' Bruschi returns to action after stroke
Mon Oct 31, 2005 12:51 PM ET


SALVO, North Carolina (Reuters) - New England Patriots All-Pro linebacker Tedy Bruschi became the first known NFL player to return to the playing field after a stroke when he appeared against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

"I'm back to doing what I love," said an emotional Bruschi after he helped the Super Bowl champions to a 21-16 victory.

"Getting this game under my belt meant a lot to me," Bruschi, who suffered the stroke in February, added. "There was so much going into this. I didn't just jump into this. I physically prepared myself the best I could."

Fans greeted him with cheers as he ran on to the field and former team mate Lawyer Milloy of the Buffalo Bills bear-hugged him during the pre-game coin toss. There were hugs and handshakes from team mates, too.

The 32-year-old Bruschi quickly made an impact, wrestling the Bills' Willis McGahee to the ground for the third tackle of the night. He figured in seven tackles for the game.

"I was ready mentally and physically and emotionally," said Bruschi. "Sometimes you just got to pick yourself up off the ground and get back to living your life, and that is all I am trying to do."

He had not expected to play this season but changed his mind after his doctors assured him it was safe to continue.

"There was a time in my recuperation and healing where I just had to tell myself it is just time to get up and live your life the way you want to live," Bruschi said.

"I am a football player by trade, it is what I do, so I did everything I could to make myself a football player again."


Sports News Article | Reuters.com

Bruschi back where he belongs

FOXBORO — It didn't seem like the time or place for a private conversation — just two minutes before the start of the Patriots-Bills game with 68,000 people standing and cheering as loudly as humanly possible, seconds after it was announced that Tedy Bruschi was starting at middle linebacker.

But Mike Vrabel walked up to Bruschi and hollered in his ear.

"I just told him, 'Welcome back,'" said Vrabel, Bruschi's newest partner at middle linebacker. "I told him that he had to block everything out and play football. He had a tough week or so. He said that every question he took was about his health. Nobody ever asked him about Buffalo. I just wanted to make sure he was OK."

The Patriots won the rather ugly game, 21-16, but appearance didn't matter. The result did. It made "Welcome Back Tedy Night" a joy.

"I've been around here a couple of years and we've played in a lot of big games," said Patriots safety Eugene Wilson. "And that's the loudest I remember this place being. It was awesome. Tedy deserves it."

There are three key men behind the Patriots success. Bob Kraft is the bankroll. Bill Belichick is the brains. Tom Brady is the superstar. But none of them is the favorite son.

Bruschi is. And nine months after suffering a minor stroke, he's back.

The Patriots are missing many things in this lackluster, win-one/lose-one season, and last night it was obvious that Bruschi's presence topped the list.

"There is not another player on the team like him," said Patriots special teams star Larry Izzo. "He exudes energy. When he's around, everyone is more intense. I can't explain it any better than that. We haven't had that ... until (last night)."

Seven female friends from the North Shore, headed by Dawn Gaffney of Lynnfield, apparently agree. Not only did the ladies buy standing-room-only seats to last night's tilt, they each wore white T-shirts with a letter in Bruschi's last name.

"We're here because we love Tedy," said Gaffney. "We don't have to have a seat. We just wanted to be here. He's what the Patriots are all about. He's all about the team. ... And he's gorgeous, too."

Managers of three booths selling Patriots gear and apparel all said the same thing: For the first time in 2005, Bruschi's No. 54 jerseys were outselling Tom Brady's No. 12. By a lot.

Bruschi finished the game with seven tackles. And, to be honest, after some early hits in the first quarter, he was nowhere near the player he was in past seasons. The public address announcer rarely called his name in the second half.

When defensive coaches do their postgame reports, if they are honest, Bruschi's grades will be OK, but not great. The rest of the defense won't fare too well, either. The Patriots again gave up too many third-down conversions (7 for 14), too many rushing yards (147), and too much respect for a mediocre Bills team (3-5).

But nine regular-season games and two months remain.


Eagle-Tribune Online

 

October 31, 2005
Patriots 21, Bills 16
Bruschi Is Back, and the Patriots Return to Form
By JOE LAPOINTE
FOXBORO, Mass., Oct. 30 -
In the easy jargon of sports, heart usually means desire and brains usually equal intelligence.

For Tedy Bruschi, the words were literal and potentially lethal last February when a blood clot passed through a small hole in his heart to cut off the blood supply to his brain, causing a mild stroke that blurred his vision and left him with numbness on his left side.

Bruschi, a veteran linebacker for the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, did not know if he would play football again or enjoy a normal family life after the hole was patched during surgery in March.

But he returned to competition Sunday night when the Patriots played the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium, and he played extensively with no apparent ill effect as New England came from behind for a 21-16 victory. The Patriots raised their record to 4-3 for first place in the American Football Conference East.

One of Bruschi's best plays came on Buffalo's final drive, when he broke up a pass intended for Daimon Shelton. It was a triumphant return for one of the National Football League's most experienced, talented and popular players.

"It feels good, I'm back doing what I love," Bruschi said. "I was ready mentally, physically and emotionally."

The game's outcome turned in the fourth quarter when Rosevelt Colvin of the Patriot sacked Bills quarterback Kelly Holcomb. It caused a fumble that Colvin recovered on the Buffalo 23. Two plays later, Corey Dillon of the Patriots ran one yard for his second touchdown to give the Patriots their only lead.

When Bruschi took the field, he waved to the crowd, which greeted him with a standing ovation, and he hugged Lawyer Milloy of the Bills, a former New England teammate. Many signs decorated the stadium, some with his number, including "54: Full Tilt, Full Time." Another said "Bruschi Equals Football."

Before the season, Bruschi said he would not return this year. But he changed his mind as his health improved and several doctors assured him it was safe to play.

Because the Bills' offense controlled the ball for much of the game, Bruschi played many downs, sometimes for more than a dozen plays in succession, fighting off blocks, dropping back in pass coverage and diving into piles to tackle runners.

His best play early in the game was an initial hit against wide receiver Roscoe Parrish on a reverse, slowing Parrish before others brought him down for a 6-yard loss. After tackles, Bruschi gestured enthusiastically with his arms several times.

Bruschi had the stroke in February, after he played in the Pro Bowl, and he had surgery in March. Bruschi has been around the team for most of the season and on the sidelines for games, and fans have cheered his image on the video screen on the scoreboard.

Bruschi, 32, grew up in San Francisco and Sacramento and joined the Patriots in 1996 as a third-round draft choice. He plays saxophone and enjoys jazz. He is married and the father of three young sons.

He met his wife, Heidi, while in college at Arizona, where she was a volleyball star. She attended Sunday's game. He credited her for her support and said her athletic background had helped. He also said that he got up quickly from tackles Sunday to reassure her.

"She's a wonderful wife," Bruschi said. "She's strong-willed. She can help me out in times of weakness. I've had them."

He said he located her face in the stands by seeing her blonde hair. "I could see her smiling," Bruschi said. "I believe we're feeling the same emotions, and we will for the rest of our lives."

Bruschi also said he was inspired by letters from stroke victims. "You can't feel sorry for yourself anymore," Bruschi said. "You pick yourself off the ground and live your life." He said he wanted to pass on the lessons of his recovery as an example to his children.

He has played in four Super Bowl games with the Patriots, who have won the championship in three of the last four seasons. In a conversation with reporters on Oct. 18, the day before returning to full practice, Bruschi discussed the doubts he had last spring and summer about his eventual recovery and return.

"There were times in my mind when I thought I was done," he said then, reflecting on the symptoms of his illness. "I can't see. I can barely walk. How am I going to play football again?"

But, as time passed, he seemed more sure of his return. "I am a football player," he said. "It's what I do."
 


Bruschi Is Back, and the Patriots Return to Form - New York Times

 

Tedy Ballgame
Patriots linebacker starts in first game since stroke
Posted: Sunday October 30, 2005 9:31PM; Updated: Monday October 31, 2005 2:45AM


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Tedy Bruschi was back in the middle of things on Sunday night: calling plays in the huddle, waving his teammates into position, barking out assignments.

The New England Patriots linebacker was on the field for the first time since February, when he suffered a stroke three days after the Pro Bowl that put his playing career in jeopardy and made his health the concern of the two-time defending Super Bowl champions and their fans.

"I'm back to doing what I love," Bruschi said after the Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills 21-16. "Sometimes, you've just got to pick yourself off the ground and get back to living your life. That's all I was trying to do."

It was an emotional return for the team's emotional leader, a thrill for the crowd when he was involved in the first three plays from scrimmage. As the game wore on, though, attention turned from Bruschi's medical condition to the early but important matchup between two teams fighting for the AFC East lead.

Bruschi had two tackles and five assists in New England's 21-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills, playing most of the defensive downs, but sitting out some of the second quarter.

"I think everyone's happy to see him out there," coach Bill Belichick said. "But we've got to do our own jobs. We can't just rely on him to show up, and everything falls into place."

An undersized defender with a knack for making plays, Bruschi had a hand in stopping two runs on the Bills' first possession and then slowed down Buffalo receiver Roscoe Parish before he was brought down for a 6-yard loss on a reverse. But his biggest contribution may have been his presence on the field for the defending champs, who have struggled through a slew of injuries to a 4-3 record.

"I'm thrilled, I'm excited and I'm terrified all at the same time," said Cathy Libin, a fan wearing a Bruschi jersey. "I know it's what the team needs, and I know every play I'll be looking at him and not the ball."

But if the fans were holding their breath, you wouldn't know it from the full-throated cheers they gave at each mention of Bruschi's name over the public address system.

A deafening cheer greeted his pregame introduction -- which was last, for dramatic effect. The applause and foot-stomping shook the cameras, but not so much that fans watching the video board couldn't see Bruschi acknowledge them with a two-handed wave.

Bruschi joined the Patriots captains at midfield for the coin toss, getting a hug from former teammate Lawyer Milloy, now a Bills safety. When Bruschi came onto the field after the opening kickoff, the crowd chanted "Brew!" and he immediately took his place behind the line, pointing and shouting out calls.

"Everyone's energized," quarterback Tom Brady said. "Tedy's one of a kind. There's no other player on the team like him.

"Hopefully, we can all play up to his level, because he sets the standard for how to play football in this league. He sets the tone."

Bruschi, 32, hadn't played since suffering a minor stroke three days after his first Pro Bowl and 10 days after helping the Patriots win their third Super Bowl in four years. Although he said he would take a year off, he was put on the reserve-physically unable to perform list, which left open the possibility of a comeback after six weeks.

Bruschi continued to attend team meetings and his recovery went well enough for him to come back early. Doctors cleared him, he returned to practice Oct. 19 and was activated Saturday.

"I'm a football player by trade. That's what I do," Bruschi said. "So I did everything I could to make myself a football player again."

Bruschi led his team onto the field for the pregame warmups, before most of the crowd was in the stadium. He sprinted down the sideline and across the field at the 40-yard line before taking off his helmet and receiving hugs and handshakes from teammates.

He played all of the first two series, but was on the sideline for the first five plays of Buffalo's third possession.


SI.com - NFL - Bruschi gets start in first game since stroke - Monday October 31, 2005 12:56AM

 

The return of Tedy Bruschi made for a storybook night
By Glen Farley, Enterprise staff writer
FOXBORO — The Tedy Bruschi story has now reached legendary status.


"Tedy won the whole game," New England Patriots outside linebacker Willie McGinest cracked following his team's 21-16 win over the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium Sunday night. "You didn't see him? He caught touchdown (passes). He ran the ball."

McGinest then turned serious for a moment.

"Tedy," he said, "did his job."

The mere fact that Bruschi was doing that — starting at inside linebacker, calling the defensive signals, getting credited with seven tackles (two solo, five assists), even playing on special teams — only 8-1/2 months after suffering a mild stroke in and of itself constitutes headline material.

"Tedy is one of a kind," quarterback Tom Brady said. "There is no other player on the team like him."

Bruschi is one of a kind, indeed, a Patriot who truly has persevered.

"Sometimes you've just got to pick yourself up off the ground and get back to living your life," said Bruschi. "That's all I'm trying to do."

Feb. 16 was the date that forever changed Bruschi's life.

Ten days after contributing in a major way to the Patriots' third Super Bowl in four years and just three days after participating in the first Pro Bowl of his career, the inside linebacker was transported via ambulance from his home in North Attleboro to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Placed on the physically unable to perform list July 28, Bruschi said before and during the preseason that he did not intend to play this year.

With the pace of his recuperation and rehabilitation accelerating, however, Bruschi sought out and received medical clearance to play this season, began practicing with the team Oct. 19. He went through his first full practice in pads with the team last Monday and was moved to the Patriots' 53-man active roster Saturday.

"There was a time in my recuperation and healing where I just had to tell myself, 'It's just time to get up and live your life the way you want to live,'" said Bruschi.

"What are you going to do? I wanted to pick myself up off the ground and I'm a football player by trade. It's what I do. So I did everything I could to make myself a football player again. I gathered all the information and made sure I was safe playing football against. So once I did that, there was a question of what are you going to do? And I felt like I wanted to get back to living my life and playing football."

So there he was last night, on the field stretching and loosening up nearly two hours prior to the 8:30 kickoff to the ESPN nationall televised game.

"I was sitting (at) my locker thinking that those minutes (prior to the game) were very, very slow — very slow moving on to game time and I wish it would have happened faster because I got here very early," said Bruschi. "I got here very early (before 5 p.m.) and I sort of contained myself because this was a very big game for me to go out and not just show that I could play, but help this team win. I think I helped us win."

That, he did.

The last Patriots starting defensive player announced over the public address system prior to the game, drawing a thunderous ovation ("the reception out there was incredible"), Bruschi was credited with his first tackle when he joined with McGinest in holding Bills running back Willis McGahee to a 1-yard gain a little more than a minute into the first quarter.

"It happened so fast," Bruschi said of his first stop, "I didn't really realize it.

Teammates and opponents alike were well aware of the impact Bruschi was making, however.

"It was awesome," cornerback Asante Samuel said of Bruschi's return. "His leadership ability and playmaking ability … It's just good to have him back. He knows the defense well. He's been here about 20 years. He's a Massachusetts favorite and (the fans) gave us momentum, too. From (the time) when we came out, every time they said his name the fans were screaming."

"He's been the heart and soul of this team for a long time," said Brady, "so it's great to have him back out there."

"He's the heart and soul of their defense," Bills quarterback Kelly Holcomb said. "He motivated them and got the crowd into it."

"He gave them a boost," Bills head coach Mike Mularkey said. "To come back from what he went through is something special. He's back and it's a positive thing because he's good for the game."

Bruschi made his presence felt early, immediately following the first hit in his return by reading a reverse to Roscoe Parrish. Although he got his arms on the Bills' diminutive wide receiver, Bruschi was unable to wrap him up. Still, his anticipation allowed nose tackle Vince Wilfork and inside linebacker Mike Vrabel to move in to throw Parrish for a 6-yard loss on the play.

Come night's end, Bruschi was tied with Samuel for fifth on the Patriots in combined tackles in the game with seven, trailing Vrabel's 14, free safety Eugene Wilson's 10, and Wilfork and end Ty Warren with nine apiece on a unit that held an opponent for the first time all year.

"It feels good," Bruschi said when it was over. "I'm back to doing what I love."


The Enterprise at SouthofBoston.com

 

Bruschi's emotional return lifts Patriots
NFL.com wire reports



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Oct. 30, 2005) -- For once, Tedy Bruschi didn't mind being on the sidelines.

The emotional leader of the Patriots defense watched Corey Dillon run for two 1-yard touchdowns in the fourth quarter that gave New England a 21-16 win over the Buffalo Bills.

Video highlights


A banged-up Corey Dillon rushed for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and the Patriots rallied, again.
56k | 300k

Just 8 1/2 months earlier -- and three days after his first Pro Bowl appearance -- Bruschi had a mild stroke then underwent surgery for a hole in his heart. But on Sunday night he started at inside linebacker just 11 days after returning to practice.

It was, he said, a "relief, just feeling good about the win, glad to be back playing football."

Another linebacker made the big play that led to Dillon's second touchdown with 5:32 left. Rosevelt Colvin stripped the ball from quarterback Kelly Holcomb and recovered at the Bills 23. Tom Brady then hit Deion Branch with a 22-yard completion, and Dillon, who missed the previous game with an ankle injury, scored the winning touchdown.

"I see Rosevelt Colvin making a play to win the game," Bruschi said. "He was the guy tonight and, hopefully, there will be other guys that do that many times for the rest of the year."

Bruschi's chances of playing again were in jeopardy last February, but on a mild night about 25 miles from the hospital where he was taken last Feb. 16 he and the defense played just well enough to overcome the Bills (3-5) and remain in first place in the AFC East.


Tedy Bruschi finished with seven total tackles and played just about every defensive snap.
Bruschi made two tackles and assisted on five for the Patriots (4-3) and said he felt a bit tired toward the end of the game. Coach Bill Belichick used him more than he expected as Buffalo held the ball for 22:07 of the first half.

"We were prepared to play him a little bit less, but he's in good condition," Belichick said. "He was doing fine on the sideline."

On the field, Bruschi raised his arms early in the game to spur the fans and called signals in the huddle.

"He's the heart and soul of their defense," Holcomb said. "He motivated them and got the crowd into it."

Dillon, who struggled most of the season before missing his previous game and practicing very little the past two weeks, entered the game when Patrick Pass hurt his leg early in the second quarter.

"Dillon helps them, of course. He's a very talented runner," Buffalo coach Mike Mularkey said. "But I thought our defensive players may have missed some tackles, too."

Despite Bruschi's return, the Patriots' defense struggled for much of the game. He made several good plays early, then fit right in with a defense that was as mediocre as it's been all season.

But it played well enough -- and the offense came alive in time -- to keep the Patriots from matching their loss total of the last two seasons, when they went 34-4 with two Super Bowl championships.

"I'd been training for this for a long time," Bruschi said. "It felt like the first game back, but I still feel I can get better"

Dillon, who had been questionable on the injury report, scored on a 1-yard run with 7:06 left, cutting the lead to 16-14 against the team that started the weekend with the NFL's second-worst rush defense. He finished with 77 yards on 18 carries.

Buffalo's last hope ended on a fourth-and-7 at the Patriots 40 when Holcomb completed a pass to Eric Moulds, who was stopped for no gain by Hank Poteat.

Bruschi was involved in a tackle on Buffalo's second play from scrimmage, then slowed down Roscoe Parrish on a reverse that resulted in a 6-yard loss. After that, he made few noteworthy plays.

"He gave them a boost," Mularkey said. "To come back from what he went through is something special. He's back and it's a positive thing because he's good for the game."

He had been the sparkplug and on-field strategist in the Patriots' three titles over the last four seasons and had been working out and attending meetings regularly since training camp began in July.

Holcomb capitalized on the Patriots' vulnerability to big plays with a 55-yard touchdown pass to Moulds for a 10-7 lead just four plays after Brady put New England ahead with a 33-yard scoring pass to Branch. The Patriots have allowed eight completions of 40 yards or more this season.

Rian Lindell kicked three field goals for Buffalo and Willis McGahee gained 136 yards on 31 carries.

Bruschi was the last defensive starter introduced before the game and raised his right arm to the roaring crowd. Several times before the Bills snapped the ball, he lifted both arms to urge on the fans.

They didn't have much to cheer for most of the game.

The Patriots held the ball for just 7:53 in the first half and trailed 3-0 on Lindell's 23-yard field goal. They appeared to tie the game on Adam Vinatieri's 39-yard field goal with 7 seconds left. But it was nullified by a delay-of-game penalty and his 44-yarder hooked to the left.

Lindell added field goals of 35 and 44 yards in the fourth quarter.

Notes: Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour missed his third straight game with a knee injury. ... Buffalo's only win in its last 10 games against New England was a 31-0 victory that opened the 2003 season.
 

NFL.com - Buffalo at New England Game Recap

 

Posted on Mon, Oct. 31, 2005
PATRIOTS 21, BILLS 16
Pats' Bruschi makes a crowd-pleasing return


Corey Dillon scored two touchdowns, and linebacker Tedy Bruschi made his season debut 8 ˝ months after he had a mild stroke as the Patriots defeated the Bills.

From Herald Wire Services


FOXBORO, Mass. - Tedy Bruschi raised his arms early in the game, and the fans cheered. Then another returning star won it for the Patriots with two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Corey Dillon, who struggled most of the season before missing his previous game with an ankle injury, came on to score on two 1-yard runs, and New England came back for a 21-16 win against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night.

Despite Bruschi's return 8 ˝ months after having a mild stroke, the Patriots' defense struggled for much of the game. The inside linebacker and emotional leader made several good plays early, then fit right in with a defense that was as mediocre as it has been all season.

''I'm back to doing what I love,'' Bruschi said. ``Sometimes, you've just got to pick yourself off the ground and get back to living your life. That's all I was trying to do.''

Bruschi had two tackles and five assists, playing most of the defensive downs, but sitting out some of the second quarter.

''I think everyone's happy to see him out there,'' coach Bill Belichick said. ``But we've got to do our own jobs. We can't just rely on him to show up, and everything falls into place.''

Trailing 16-14, New England got the ball at the 23-yard line of Buffalo (3-5) when Rosevelt Colvin stripped it from quarterback Kelly Holcomb and recovered with 6:14 left. Tom Brady hit Deion Branch for a 22-yard gain, then Dillon, who rushed for more than 100 yards just once this season, scored his second touchdown of the game.

Dillon, who entered the game when Patrick Pass hurt his leg early in the second quarter, had been questionable on the injury report. But he scored on a 1-yard run with 7:06 left, cutting the lead to 16-14 against the team that started the weekend with the NFL's second-worst rush defense.

Buffalo's last hope ended on a fourth-and-7 at the Patriots' 40 when Holcomb completed a pass to Eric Moulds, who was stopped for no gain by Hank Poteat.

Bruschi played inside linebacker most of the game 11 days after returning to practice. He was involved in a tackle on Buffalo's second play from scrimmage, then slowed down Roscoe Parrish on a reverse that resulted in a 6-yard loss. After that, he made few noteworthy plays.

He had been the sparkplug and on-field strategist in the Patriots' three titles in the past four seasons but had a stroke 11 days after the latest championship. He had surgery to fix a hole in his heart in March and had been working out and attending meetings regularly since training camp began in July.

Holcomb capitalized on the Patriots' vulnerability to big plays with a 55-yard touchdown pass to Moulds for a 10-7 lead just four plays after Brady put New England ahead with a 33-yard scoring pass to Branch.

Rian Lindell kicked three field goals for Buffalo, and Willie McGahee gained 136 yards on 31 carries.

Bruschi was the last defensive starter introduced before the game and raised his right arm to the roaring crowd. Several times before the Bills snapped the ball, he lifted both arms to urge on the fans.
 

Herald.com | 10/31/2005 | Pats' Bruschi makes a crowd-pleasing return

Tedy’s reaction normal
By Karen Guregian
Tuesday, November 1, 2005 - Updated: 06:41 AM EST


FOXBORO – Even after watching Tedy Bruschi’s triumphant return to football Sunday night, there will remain critics of his decision to play again after suffering a stroke.

Listening to him speak so eloquently following the Patriots’ 21-16 win over the Bills, listening to him poignantly and emotionally explain his decision in greater detail, I can’t join that club.

For me, anyway, his reasons hit home. In one respect, I totally understand where he’s coming from.

When you have survived a life-threatening illness – for me it was Hodgkin’s Disease – a return to normalcy is something you desperately crave. There is a strong desire not to let that illness rob you of who you are and what you do.

Tedy Bruschi is a football player. That’s his passion in life, that’s where his identity comes from. He doesn’t want to let the stroke he suffered beat him, take away all that he was, all that he had worked so hard to become.

“We have all gone through things in our lives . . . I am sure people have lost loved ones or something happened, some other type of injury or something like that, and there comes a point where you just can’t feel sorry for yourself anymore,” Bruschi said after the game. “You know, the minute I had my stroke and the doctor told me, I just wanted to know where we go from here and how do I get back.

“I don’t know how it has affected other people out there or anyone else, but mental toughness is something I pride myself on. And if you have support from friends and family and teammates, it is possible to overcome any obstacle.”

Remember how Penguins superstar Mario Lemieux, a cancer survivor, returned to hockey on the night of his last radiation treatment? Remember how he scored a goal and an assist that night against the Flyers, after flying in following that treatment?

Lemieux had already won four NHL scoring titles, two MVP awards, and two Stanley Cup rings. He also had a wife and kids at home, all the money in the world and nothing left to prove. But there he was, back on the ice. And he’s still around, playing the sport he loves, nine years later.

“At that point, all you want to do is prove to yourself that you’re fine, that the cancer is behind you,” Lemieux told me in a story I wrote for Sports Illustrated back in 1996. “That’s why I came back (so quickly). Maybe it was foolish, but that’s what I felt I had to do.”

Maybe it is foolish, but not to someone who’s trying to put his or her best foot forward in beating an illness. It makes all the sense in the world.

Bruschi certainly wasn’t perfect in his return, but that didn’t matter. Out on the field, he was still the same Bruschi everyone had come to admire – pre-stroke. He still charged around with that reckless abandon, with that same fire in his eyes.

There was no halfway about his re-entry. He started at inside linebacker, missed only a handful of defensive snaps, and was also in for punt coverage and kickoff returns.

“I want to tell my kids when they are older that when they are faced with an opportunity to take a chance in life, or overcome obstacles or picking themselves up off the ground, my three sons, and it is either you get busy living, or you just get busy dying,” he said. “You know, and I like to say that I could give them experience from what I lived myself. I just want to tell them, you know, go for it, you can do anything you want in life. I want to be able to have experiences myself where I am able to teach them those lessons because I have lived them myself.”

Bruschi has chosen to get busy living, and living for him, is playing a contact sport. Hearing him speak those words Sunday night . . . I get it.

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Tedy’s reaction normal

 Bruschi proves he's a key piece
By Ron Borges | October 31, 2005

FOXBOROUGH -- Tedy Bruschi survived. So did his team. Fixate on that and forget about the rest if you can.

The Patriots won last night, beating the stumbling Buffalo Bills, 21-16, on a late score with 5:32 to play. Tell yourself the rest doesn't matter. They won the game.

They didn't win by much and they didn't show any significant defensive improvement except inside the red zone but they won the game and for now that is all you've got to hold on to. For now it is enough.

For two weeks the return of Bruschi after an eight-month layoff following a stunning stroke several days after he returned from the Pro Bowl in February was all Patriot fans could think about. The very soul of their defense was coming back. Now things would be different. The problems that had been plaguing their injury-riddled defense for six inconsistent weeks soon would be solved. He was back.

Bruschi heard the first cheer at 4:47 p.m. as he walked alone from the parking lot toward the front door of Razor Blade Field. For an instant he looked to his left, a slight smile passing across his face but just as quickly as it appeared it faded and he was again fixated on only one thing. Getting to work.

Not many people look forward to working on Sunday, but Bruschi had been waiting eight months for this day. Eight months of struggle and worry and, yes, a touch of fear. Eight months to get back out on the piece of real estate he loves most in New England.

Just under four hours later, Bruschi became the first known person to come back from a stroke to again ply his trade in the National Football League and he wasted no time making obvious why he was there. He made the third tackle of the game, needing only 62 seconds to slam his body into Buffalo running back Willis McGahee and wrestle him to the ground. When his name was announced the crowd went berserk. Bruschi did not, acting like he had done this many times before. Which he had.

Earlier, when the defensive starters were announced, Bruschi's name was called last and it received a thunderous ovation. For a moment he acknowleged the crowd, waving his arms as he walked down the sideline. Then he stood on the 40-yard line, bouncing up and down until it was time for the captains to go out for the coin toss. He was the first New England captain to hit midfield and when he got there he received a bear hug from his former teammate, Buffalo's Lawyer Milloy.

Minutes later, just before the opening kickoff, Bruschi's wife, Heidi, stood waving to him from the stands. Her smile was radiant, nearly as broad as Bruschi's but his held only for a moment. Then it was back to the job at hand, which was trying to corral McGahee and the Bills. As things turned out, that was nothing to smile about.

Bruschi had returned to much bombast, many of the faithful convinced his mere presence would solve all the ills of their battered and porous defense. It did not. The Patriots won because the Bills are a flawed team with too many weaknesses, a team led by a career backup quarterback who could never make a play for his team when they needed one the way Brady did when he hit Deion Branch with a 37-yard pass immediately after Buffalo took a 16-7lead to set up a touchdown and then hit Branch for a 22-yard gain immediately after Holcomb had fumbled the ball back to New England less than a minute later to set up the winning touchdown.

That was the difference between these teams even on a subpar night for Brady. The quarterback was the difference. The defense, however, was not.

The Bills entered with the 30th-ranked offense in the NFL, a team that was next to last in passing offense and 26th in points scored. The one thing they could do, the one thing everyone who plays them knows they will try to do is, run. Last night they tried it again. Last night they succeeded, rolling up 394 yards in total offense, including 136 rushing yards by McGahee, who ran through the Bruschi-infused defense with the same success the Broncos, Chargers, and Panthers had. In fact, with the same success most everyone else they've played this year had. Bruschi was back last night but is presence did little to change that.

Buffalo was averaging 353.3 yards per game. Last night they racked up 394. It was averaging 125.3 rushing. Last night it ran for 147. The difference between this game and its six predecessors was that with Bruschi on the field, the red zone defense stiffened, not allowing the Bills a touchdown the three times it penetrated the 20. Going into last night's victory the defense had given up 15 touchdowns on 19 opportunities, and the other four times those opponents had come away with field goals. This night, with Bruschi in the middle, that's all the Bills could muster inside the 20. Three field goals. Points, but not enough.

He played far more than he expected, missing only one series the entire night. He did not play as well as he had hoped but, like the rest of the defense, he played well enough to win, which is well enough period.

Not perfect, to be sure. Not The Answer, as some had hoped, but perhaps part of the answer, at least to the red zone problems

''It feels good back to doing what I love," Bruschi said. ''Getting this game under my belt meant a lot to me. [It was a] relief. There was so much going into this. I didn't just jump into this. I physically prepared myself the best I could knowing playing a lot was a possibility. I been training for this for a long time. But I feel I can get a lot better."

He will need to do that because for as many plays as he played, which was nearly all of them, and as many hits as he dealt out and absorbed, which was plenty, there is still much to worry about with this defense. Much work to do.

When you allow your opponent to control the ball for 39 minutes and 20 seconds, it is a problem. When you get shredded for 147 rushing yards, it is a weakness. When you allow one man, McGahee, to rush for 136 yards, things need to be tightened. But the difference between this game and the six before them was the two turnovers they forced and the stinginess in the red zone for the first time all season and the fact that in the midst of their defense was Bruschi, a guy who last night called himself ''a football player by trade."

''I saw Rosevelt Colvin make a play to win the game," Bruschi said. ''That's the way it's been in the past. You don't know who's going to do it or when it's going to come to pass. Rosey was the guy tonight."

He was, forcing Holcomb to cough up the ball with just under seven minutes to play at theBills 23. It came only seconds after Corey Dillon's 1-yard plunge had cut the Bills' lead to 16-14.

Two plays later, the Patriots had the lead and five minutes after that the defense stopped the Bills on fourth down and that was it. It was over. Bruschi had survived the first step and his team had survived the night.

For now that is enough.

Bruschi proves he's a key piece - The Boston Globe

 

BRUSCHI'S RETURN A BIT UNSETTLING
The Daily Herald


There are tough guys, and then there are tough guys.

No one doubts Tedy Bruschi is one tough guy.

He's also a great story, something ESPN's fawning announcers never let you forget for a moment the other night even as he and the other 21 players on the field in Foxborough, Mass.

, tried to play a game.

At one point, Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire seemed so overwhelmed by the emotions of the whole thing that you expected them to share a group hug and maybe shed a tear or two.

But, hey, we're talking about a guy who just eight months ago could hardly see, much less walk. This is a guy who then underwent surgery after that to repair a hole in his heart that doctors believed triggered the stroke.

This is also a guy who seems almost embarrassed that people are making such a big deal out of the whole thing.

They did Sunday night because most had never seen anything like this. Bruschi had no business being on a football field this season, but here he was in the seventh game of the season flying around the field like he didn't have a care in the world.

Many of the 68,756 on hand weren't so sure. They cheered wildly every time Bruschi's name was announced. But they also held their breath every time he collided with an offensive lineman 100 pounds bigger.

In the stands, Rick Stimets wore a blue No. 54 Bruschi jersey that wasn't big enough to cover his conflicted feelings.

"It's bittersweet. It's great for the team, but I don't think he's making the right decision," Stimets said. "As much as I like to see him out there, I'd like to see him healthy."

Bruschi, of course, insists he's healthy. He says every doctor he has seen has cleared him, confident that it was the heart problem that caused the stroke.

He's a football player, probably underpaid at $850,000 a year, but that's what he does. A guy's got to make a living and, besides, NFL careers are notoriously short anyhow.

"Sometimes you just got to pick yourself up off the ground and get back to living your life, and that is all I am trying to do," he said.

Unfortunately, doctors aren't always right. They tend to guess a lot about things like this and, even if the guesses are educated, there are no guarantees.

Joe Mesi would be back earning a living just like Bruschi if he and some of his doctors had their way. Thankfully, they haven't gotten it.

Mesi, you might remember, was on the verge of fighting for the heavyweight title a few years ago. But he had bleeding on the brain after nearly being knocked silly in a fight with Vassiliy Jirov, and Nevada boxing authorities have refused to allow him back in the ring.

Like Bruschi, Mesi came armed with a doctor's note saying everything was OK. He got three neurosurgeons to testify he was no more at risk for further injury than someone who hadn't had a subdural hematoma.

Other doctors disagreed and Nevada stood firm. For once, the system actually worked in boxing.

New England sports fans know better than most that doctors aren't always right.

They remember Reggie Lewis, who was an all-star with the Celtics when he collapsed in the first period of a 1993 playoff game with Charlotte.

A medical "Dream Team" assembled to treat Lewis diagnosed him with a potentially fatal heart problem, and the Celtics said he would probably never play basketball again. Just hours later, though, he transferred to a different hospital where a doctor said he had a minor neurological condition and a normal athlete's heart.

Two months later, Lewis collapsed and died while shooting baskets at Brandeis University. An autopsy revealed his heart was abnormal, enlarged and extensively scarred.

Bruschi's doctors issued a statement a few weeks ago saying he is "exceptionally healthy" and that there's nothing more to worry about than what a 32-year-old linebacker in the violent world of the NFL always has to worry about.

The doctors are all experts in their field and they certainly wouldn't knowingly do anything to put him at risk. Then again, there isn't a large pool of football players who try to come back after suffering a stroke to learn from.

Bruschi himself is convinced he's OK, and, for one night at least, he played like it.

"I gathered all the information and made sure I was safe playing football again," Bruschi said after the game. "And so, once I did that, there was a question of what are you going to do. And I felt like I wanted to get back to living my life and playing football."

So Bruschi is back, doing what he loves and making a living the only way he knows how.

BRUSCHI'S RETURN A BIT UNSETTLING :: The Daily Herald, Provo Utah


 

An ace in the soul -- Patriots rally around Tedy’s return
By John Tomase
Monday, October 31, 2005 - Updated: 05:18 PM EST


FOXBORO – A figure in black slouched past Willie McGinest’s locker looking defiant yet drained.

“Look at my man with his head hanging,” McGinest said. “He looks like he needs a respirator.”

Tedy Bruschi cracked a smile with what little energy remained. He had just been on the field for 76 snaps in his first game since last February’s Pro Bowl and the action had taken its toll.

But Bruschi did not break in his return from a mild stroke. And when it was over, the same could be said for his team.

Taking a cue from their leader, the Patriots persevered against the Buffalo Bills last night. Trailing for most of the game and manhandled for the first three quarters, the Patriots sprung to life in the final 10 minutes and turned what could have been one of the most demoralizing defeats of the Bill Belichick era into a 21-16 victory that gave them life heading into next week’s showdown with the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts.

“With Bruschi out there we played with a different intensity and it was good,” safety Eugene Wilson said. “As soon as he came back to practice, you could see the difference in the players.”

Bruschi’s teammates warned all week the linebacker couldn’t fix the Patriots’ problems by himself. Bruschi needed help, and it came chiefly in the form of fellow linebacker Rosevelt Colvin’s blindside blitz and fumble recovery at the Buffalo 23 that set up Corey Dillon’s go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run with 5:38 remaining.

“We’re in the huddle saying somebody do something,” Bruschi said. “We needed someone to make a play, and he was the guy tonight.”

Offensively, Dillon shook off a sprained left ankle to sub for the injured Patrick Pass and rush for 72 yards on 18 carries, all but 10 of those yards in the second half. He scored on a pair of 1-yard runs in the fourth quarter.

“For him to do what he did and suck it up and play the way he did, it just shows you what kind of team guy he is,” said center Dan Koppen. “It shows what he’s willing to do to help his team win.”

Colvin, Dillon and Bruschi saved the Pats on a night when they looked very little like the two-time defending Super Bowl champs.

They took stupid penalties, mismanaged the clock, and treated momentum like a radioactive isotope. They struggled mightily to beat the same Bills who were blasted by the Oakland Raiders, 38-17, just a week earlier.

The Bills dominated time of possession 39:20 to 20:40, controlled both lines of scrimmage, and capitalized on two Patriots turnovers. The Pats missed a field goal after taking a delay-of-game penalty despite owning timeouts at the end of the first half. They allowed a series of third-and-long conversions in the second half when just one stop could have changed the game.

They were flagged for a performing-an-unnatural-act penalty in the first quarter, an infraction that summed up most of the evening.

But like they have so many times before, the Patriots delivered when it mattered. First Deion Branch made a spectacular diving catch for 37 yards to the Buffalo 24 with 10:02 left in the fourth quarter. The play set up Dillon’s first 1-yard run. Then Colvin made his play, Tim Dwight took a Tom Brady pass to the 1, and the Pats were saved despite looking flat for much of the game.

Lacking motivation seemed like an impossibility when Bruschi took the field to a deafening ovation. He wasted no time making his presence felt, helping stop running back Willis McGahee (31 carries, 136 yards) on Buffalo’s first play from scrimmage.

“His play-making ability, it’s just good to have him back,” cornerback Asante Samuel said. “. . . He’s a Massachusetts favorite and he gave us momentum tonight.”
 

BostonHerald.com - Patriots & NFL: An ace in the soul -- Patriots rally around Tedy’s return

 

Bruschi Is AFC Defensive Player of Week
Tedy Bruschi, Returning Eight Months After a Stroke, Is AFC's Defensive Player of the Week
The Associated Press


NEW YORK - New England's Tedy Bruschi, returning to the lineup eight months after a stroke, is the AFC's defensive player of the week.

Bruschi had 10 tackles Sunday in the Patriots' 21-16 win over Buffalo. He played nearly full-time in his first game since the Super Bowl.

Other AFC players honored were Denver quarterback Jake Plummer (offense) and Houston's Jerome Mathis (special teams).

The NFC players of the week were Tiki Barber of the New York Giants (offense); Charles Tillman of Chicago (defense) and Joe Nedney of San Francisco (special teams).
 

ABC News: Bruschi Is AFC Defensive Player of Week

Bruschi's back and in fine fettle
New England defense happy to have its standout LB heading into game vs. Colts
By Phillip B. Wilson
November 6, 2005



Tedy Bruschi wants to instill in his three sons the life's wisdom that they must get busy living or get busy dying. The boys only need to look at their father's football career to see that type of assertive perspective.


Eight months after he suffered a stroke and underwent heart surgery, the New England Patriots' veteran linebacker returned to the lineup last Sunday. After getting the doctors' OK, he said it was simply a matter of doing what he loves to do.


Then it was the same, old energetic Bruschi. He was moving fast and hitting anything that moved.


"I don't know how it has affected other people out there," Bruschi said about his setback and comeback in a news release provided by the Patriots, "but mental toughness is something I pride myself on.


"And if you have support from friends and family and teammates," added Bruschi, who said he wants his sons to learn from his attitude, "it is possible to overcome any obstacle."


Unbeaten Indianapolis (7-0) will knock heads with Bruschi once again when the Colts visit Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Monday night. The Colts have lost to this guy and the two-time defending Super Bowl champions four times in two seasons, including the past two playoffs. Respect is not an issue.


"He might not be the best stat guy as far as 40s and benches, but he always makes plays," Colts receiver Brandon Stokley said of Bruschi. "He's a football player."


Bruschi, last week's AFC Defensive Player of the Week after the Patriots' 21-16 victory over Buffalo, personifies the no-nonsense mentality set forth by coach Bill Belichick.


Bruschi could be considered an overachiever. The 10th-year pro didn't make his first Pro Bowl until last season. And the third-round pick didn't become a full-time starter until midway through his third year.


"He goes out there and plays the game the way it's supposed to be played," said Colts defensive tackle Corey Simon. "He plays it hard and he plays it aggressive.


"When you play it that way, when you're playing 100 miles per hour all the time, good things are going to happen for you.


Backup Colts running back Dominic Rhodes is still wondering how Bruschi wrestled the football away for a drive-killing turnover in January's 20-3 Patriots victory in the playoffs. It was a signature play -- New England always seems to seize the moment against the Colts.


"He was there as soon as I turned around," Rhodes said. "Somehow, the ball just shifted right to him. It was a great play on his part. That's how he plays every play, hard and smart. Guys like that, who study and know this game inside out, they make plays like that because they know where to be."


But the Patriots (4-3) aren't the same on defense this time around. They desperately needed Bruschi to bolster a unit that is 26th in points and yards allowed.


Bruschi's ailments coupled with the retirement of linebacker Ted Johnson had the Patriots turning to free agents Chad Brown and Monty Beisel to fill the voids. Brown and Beisel are now backups.


Bruschi's return allows the Patriots to move Mike Vrabel inside with him and slot Willie McGinest and Rosevelt Colvin at outside linebacker spots. Buffalo's 16 points were the fewest allowed this season by the reshuffled Patriots, who still must make up for safety Rodney Harrison suffering a season-ending knee injury and defensive end Richard Seymour being hampered by a sore knee.


"Tedy is a good player and it was good to have him back," Belichick said on a conference call last week. "(But) in the end, he's like anybody else -- he can only play one position and do his job.


"It's up to everybody else to do theirs."


Bruschi's advice to teammates probably would be the same as that to his sons: Regardless of the situation, there comes a time when you have to take action.


"What he has done is amazing," said Colts linebackers coach Mike Murphy. "There's not a whole bunch of guys who would be physically capable of coming back from that. I hope he has a good season and a lot of success, except for one game."

 

Bruschi's back and in fine fettle

Colts must keep vigilant eye on Patriots' Bruschi

BY REGGIE HAYES
Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel


FOXBORO, Mass. - In order for the Indianapolis Colts to beat their nemesis New England on Monday night, they'll have to neutralize Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

And they have to do it on two levels:

1. Prevent him from making game-altering plays.

2. Muffle his motivational voice.

There's a danger that Bruschi's return to the Patriots' defense not only improves their chances to stop Edgerrin James and harass Peyton Manning, but also gives them a psychological lift. With Bruschi on the field, the Patriots believe they have a better defense than they do, and those around him elevate their games.

One big play by Bruschi will be one too many for the Colts.

"Any time a team gets back a player that's been around a long time and has made a lot of plays, it's a boost for their team," Manning said.

Bruschi's return from a possible career-ending stroke lifted the Patriots' spirits in a win last week against Buffalo. His presence, as a link to all those Patriots defenses that bullied the Colts in the past, can't be overstated.

The Colts (7-0) need to take Bruschi out of the picture, or at least shove him to the side, when they play the Patriots (4-3) at 9 tonight in Gillette Stadium. The offensive line must neutralize him when James makes his trademark lateral moves down the line. Tight end Dallas Clark and receiver Brandon Stokley must avoid Bruschi in the across-the-middle passing game.

It also wouldn't hurt for the Colts to listen to their defensive tackle, Corey Simon, who's new to the rivalry but attuned to the necessary psyche.

Bruschi's energy and passion drives New England's defense.

The trick for the Colts is to generate their fervor, counteracting Bruschi's edge.

"We can't worry about who they have playing or who they don't have playing or where they're getting their emotional lift," Simon said. "This is Monday Night Football. This is a huge game where everybody is watching. If you can't come out with the intensity you need to play, you don't have a pulse."

One key for the Colts' offense, both in overall approach and dealing with Bruschi, is patience. Indianapolis' willingness to stick to a game plan, even when it faces a deficit, has served the Colts well in their 7-0 start. Granted, that's easier to do against the Rams, but it should apply to the Patriots, too.

A year ago in the playoffs at New England, the Colts seemed tentative on offense and allowed New England to dictate tempo.

This year, James leads the league in rushing and shows the moves and toughness of his first couple pro seasons. If the Colts can grind out a couple long drives, they'll reduce the Patriots' energy level and lessen Bruschi's contagious enthusiasm.

Both teams will conjure extra adrenalin in the first quarter simply because of the rivalry. It's how the teams play when the game turns into a fatigue-fighting grind in the second half that will make the difference.

"I think we've surprised some teams with our patience this year," Manning said. "In the past, we've been a throw the ball down the field offense because that's what defenses have allowed us to do. ...That's the nice thing about this offense and (coordinator) Tom (Moore) and his play calling. We usually call what's working. Games are shorter now. We're having longer drives."

The Patriots' knack for frustrating Manning and the Colts' offense is well-documented. New England held the Colts to a single field goal in the playoff loss last season and picked Manning off four times in the AFC Championship game two years ago. Manning's 0-7 record in Foxboro remains the biggest blotch on his NFL career.

However, names from Manning's frustrating past in New England are gone now, including defensive backs Ty Law, Tyrone Poole and Rodney Harrison and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. The Patriots defense has been far from stellar, surrendering 41 points to San Diego and 28 apiece to Atlanta and Denver.

Still, there's a sense that New England coach Bill Belichick and his assistants remain one step ahead of Manning and the Colts in game-day adjustments.

Every time the Colts win, praise comes with a caveat: They haven't yet proved they can beat the Patriots.

"The only way we can end that is to win some of these games," Colts coach Tony Dungy said.

Step One for the Colts tonight will be to defuse Bruschi and the Patriots' defense. It's an imposing step, but an essential one. Because if the lasting image after tonight is Bruschi celebrating and exhorting the crowd's frenzy, it'll be a sad and familiar soundtrack on the Colts' flight home.
 

Colts must keep vigilant eye on Patriots' Bruschi

 Here's a Bruschi For Tedy
By: AUSTIN DANFORTH
Issue date: 11/15/05 Section: Sports


Pronounced "Brew-ski", Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi is in the running for greatest pro athlete names of all time, and probably already is for the college students who toast to him during games. But Mr. Bruschi is also on the short list of the world's toughest athletes. See, about 8 months ago, just 10 days after helping the Patriots win their second consecutive Super Bowl, Tedy Bruschi suffered a stroke at the age of 31.

Days after he suffered the stroke doctors made a discovery: Tedy Bruschi had been playing football for his whole life with a hole in his heart. Known as a fiery competitor, and a leader, the thing that set him apart from his peers, his heart was failing him.

Eight months removed from a stroke, most people would still be in the process of recovering. Tedy Bruschi, however, took the field in the Patriots' Week 8 game against the Buffalo Bills. His story isn't merely a comeback story, it's a medical miracle.

In his first game action since the stroke, Bruschi didn't disappoint. He played nearly every snap on defense and special teams, racking up nine tackles and numerous hits in the Pats 21-16 win.

After the superb play of the last few seasons, fans were lost during the first half of this season without Bruschi to anchor the defense. The team wasn't the same without him and the game watching experience wasn't either. I know Patriots games were not the same without the familiar "Bruschi" cheer and subsequent toast after a tackle, sighting, or even mention of his name.

Last Sunday night it seemed as if he was the only person not concerned about his own well-being on the football field. Patriots fans in the stadium as well as in their own living rooms held their collective breath each time Bruschi was in on a play. Even the announcers couldn't get over the fact that he was out there doing the job he was doing. The only thing fans could do was cheer him on as best they could, making the stadium as loud as ever and turning dorm rooms throughout Patriot Nation into a never-ending toast to his health and his performance.

And so it was a relief and a release to see No. 54 on the field at last. As the Patriots bound down the homestretch this year toward the playoffs they won't be without the services of Bruschi and company, as the Patriots will welcome back several other players from the injured list.

Tedy, here's to you! Bruschi!!!

Here's a Bruschi For Tedy - Sports

 

 

Bruschi inspiring on, off field with stroke of courage
By Jim Corbett, USA TODAY Sports Weekly

FOXBORO, Mass. — "Dear Tedy, I went to Arizona State, and I've always hated you. But I admire you for what you've overcome." That's how one e-mail began. Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, a University of Arizona graduate, has received thousands of them since his unprecedented comeback to professional football eight months after suffering a stroke.

Thumbs up: The Patriots are 2-1 since Tedy Bruschi's return.
By Steven Senne, AP

Then there are the letters. Next to Bruschi's locker is a deep plastic bin stacked with 200-plus letters from stroke survivors, many of them children. It is the fourth such bin delivered to the Pro Bowler. Executive director of media relations Stacey James delivered the thick-as-a-brick stack of e-mails, including the one from the Arizona State alum, since Bruschi suffered a stroke Feb. 16 and announced Oct. 16 he would play this season.

"Another was from a 12-year-old girl who suffered a stroke who included a picture of herself and also drew a picture of herself for Tedy," James says.

Bruschi's eyes go wide with pride when he points to the overwhelming emotional response his comeback has elicited.

"All these letters right here, a lot of them are from stroke survivors," Bruschi says. "That lets me know I've been an inspiration.

"I don't think America knows very much about strokes — that you can get back to your life after you have a stroke. There can be a full recovery, if possible.

"People associate strokes with the senior citizens of the world, the older generation. But I get letters from 5-, 12-, 16-, 25- and 30-year-olds who've had the condition similar to mine.

"They've given me their story and talked about how I've given them hope to get their lives back. That's an honor to me, every time I get one of these letters."

In March, doctors repaired the small hole in his heart that was the cause of his minor stroke. Only a return to play football for the Super Bowl-champion Patriots could patch the hole in Bruschi's soul.

Atop his locker is a snapshot of the linebacker surrounded by his quintessential support group: wife Heidi and their three young sons, Tedy Jr., Rex and Dante. Five smiles shine like the summer sun that lighted the backyard moment.

There is another indelible image for the family photo album:

Bruschi in gray sweats, Tedy Jr. and Rex, wearing oversized No. 54 "Bruschi" jerseys, romping on Jacksonville's Alltel Stadium grass. They tumbled around together like clothes in a dryer as the linebacker took the edge off his pregame nerves before Super Bowl XXXIX.

What some can't understand is how Bruschi could risk coming back for the three boys who need him. Turns out, Bruschi came back precisely because of the need to teach his sons about always digging deep and never quitting.

How could Bruschi teach them "Make a difference," if he didn't make the biggest difference of all?

"Getting back to playing football was a big part of why I wanted to come back, but how am I supposed to tell my sons later in life that any obstacle can be overcome, that you can achieve anything in life, if I don't live my life that way?" Bruschi says. "I want to draw off my experiences on how I lived my life and be able to teach them from what I've experienced. For me to be able to teach them about life and overcoming any challenge they're presented with, I have to live my life that way."

The fan favorite nicknamed "Full Tilt" and "Tedy Ballgame" has made a living rising above. Bruschi's uplifting return has energized a 31st-ranked defense sorely lacking in big plays, and his heady calls have helped stabilize the vulnerable interior. The 10th-year linebacker has 21 tackles in three games and his diving deflection of an end-zone pass intended for receiver Wes Welker prevented a touchdown and helped preserve New England's 23-16 win against Miami on Sunday.

The Northern California native grew up on some of San Francisco's roughest streets. His parents divorced when Bruschi was 3. He didn't start playing organized football until 14, yet the whirlwind defensive end rang up 52 career sacks for Dick Tomey's "Desert Swarm" defense at Arizona.

Scouts deemed him too small at 6-1, 247 pounds to make it as an NFL defensive end. But then-Patriots coach Bill Parcells and defensive assistants Bill Belichick, Al Groh and Romeo Crennel glimpsed something special in New England's 1996 third-round choice. Bruschi's uncanny nose for the ball, unquenchable thirst for excellence and unteachable instincts coalesced in last season's Pro Bowl berth, his first.

Now Bruschi relishes a far more profound legacy than three-time Super Bowl champion.

"What I'm doing, no one's ever done before," Bruschi says. "These are uncharted waters I've stepped into.

"If your normal life after a stroke is just getting back to work, maybe your normal life is playing professional football. That was my normal life. That's what I wanted to get back to. I was fortunate enough that I was able to rehabilitate myself 100% and get back to playing football again.

"Sometimes people fear the unknown. I wasn't going to let the unknown scare me off."

Money couldn't buy the happiness he experienced playing again with his teammates in an Oct. 30 win against Buffalo, when he received AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his seven tackles.

Remember, this is the selfless defensive captain who left at least another $6 million on the table, forsaking free agency when he signed a four-year, $8.3 million extension he negotiated himself last summer in order to finish his career as a Patriot.

As recently as September, Bruschi vowed to sit out this season. But then he felt completely normal.

He meticulously researched his return, consulting with four of the country's foremost stroke neurologists and cardiologists. Their opinions were trebled by other experts.

"It was a combination of gathering multiple opinions, my rehabilitation going well and me getting my strength and conditioning back. Once I got to that point, Heidi and I sat down and said, 'Why wait when the only difference from this year to next is that I'm going to be 33 next year?'

"I drew all my strength from my family. Heidi was there for every appointment. Don't get me wrong. She laid down the law. She said, 'OK, Tedy, you have to do this, this and this if you want to play again.' "

He was cleared Oct. 16 by David Greer, a renowned specialist in stroke neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

He's bounced right up after every tackle so Heidi won't have cause to fret.

It was nine months ago when Heidi called 911. Her husband complained of numbness in his left arm and leg, blurred vision and a headache three days after playing in the Pro Bowl. The event was 10 days after his fourth-quarter interception of Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb in the Super Bowl assured New England's place among football dynasties.

Bruschi says he could have died if the clot that traveled from his legs and into his brain through a previously undetected hole in his heart had settled a couple of millimeters in a different direction.

It's why a guy who could barely see 5-year-old Tedy Jr. enter the bedroom that morning now sees the biggest possible picture. Bruschi does public service announcements for the American Stroke Association and the Spaulding Rehabilitation Institute.

Bruschi's story is Mike Doyle's story. But until Bruschi put a brave and public face on stroke survival, Doyle was reluctant to talk about the minor strokes he suffered three years ago also caused by an undetected hole in his heart.

A Boston-area native and lifelong Patriots fan, Doyle, 47, bought former Patriots coach Chuck Fairbanks' season tickets when Fairbanks left to coach at a college. A former player at Tufts University, Doyle is back playing hockey twice weekly in a local sunrise league. Growing up in North Andover, Mass., he dreamed of being "discovered" by the Boston Bruins who lived in the area and drove by the backyard rink he skated on.

Like Bruschi, Doyle has a wife, Brenda, and three kids. He desperately wanted his quality of life back. The doctors at Massachusetts General performed the same procedure on Doyle as on Bruschi, implanting a mesh device shaped like a clamshell to seal the hole in their hearts.

What has Bruschi meant to Doyle and others like him?

"I don't know if I'd have given you this interview a year ago because I felt the stigma associated with a stroke," Doyle says. "But Tedy Bruschi stood up to the whole thing and proved he can live a normal life again.

"He's a hero, not only for what he's done on the field, but for what he's done off it — for having the courage to do what he's doing."

The defect involves the improper sealing of the walls between the heart's left and right atrium at birth. The small opening never fully closes in an estimated 10% to 25% of the population and can be the source of stroke under rare circumstances.

Doctors gave Doyle two options after what was later diagnosed by a CT scan as two minor strokes suffered while skiing with his family in Sunny River, Maine: He could close the hole in his heart, known as a patent foramen ovale (PFO), through a surgical procedure. Or he could take medicine, which would mean no more hockey.

Like Bruschi, Doyle chose the surgery.

"There's another way to live your life with this, and that is you could just go on blood thinners and just live a very docile life and be very fine," Doyle says. "But you're not going to live a normal life. Tedy's chosen to live, for him, a normal life."

Doyle returned to play hockey eight months after suffering his stroke, the same rehabilitation time as Bruschi.

"I'm sure it was the same with Tedy's wife as it was with my wife," Doyle says. "Brenda knows I would be miserable to live with if I couldn't play hockey and couldn't ski and live an active life. I'd rather have quality of life and take some risk than not.

"People were so afraid about Tedy coming back. As long as he waited six months for the scar tissue to heal around his heart, I was not afraid at all."

Colts center Jeff Saturday went out of his way to seek out Bruschi after banging bodies with him during the Colts' 40-21 win Nov. 7.

Bruschi's road to recovery


Feb. 16: Bruschi suffers a mild stroke just three days after playing in his first Pro Bowl and 10 days after the Patriots won their third Super Bowl in four years.


March 16: Bruschi is scheduled for surgery to repair a hole in his heart, believed to be the cause behind the stroke.

May 22: Bruschi says he is unsure he will be able to return to the NFL in 2005 or any other season, according to the Boston Herald.

July 20: According to The Associated Press, Bruschi will sit out the 2005 season to recover. Coach Bill Belichick says: "We are pleased Tedy continues to be a part of the team, and he has our continued support."

Sept. 1: Bruschi announces he will return to the Patriots for the 2006 season.

Oct. 16: Bruschi announces he will return this season.

Oct. 19: Bruschi returns to practice.

Oct. 30: Bruschi plays first game since returning, making seven tackles, two solo, in a 21-16 win against Buffalo. Bruschi is named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

— Penny Brown, USA TODAY Sports Weekly


"It's an unbelievable feat to come back from what Tedy has come back from, and I told him after the game it was great to see him and I'm glad he's healthy," Saturday says. "He's a great competitor, man. He brings a lot of life to their defense and really is a great leader for them and the NFL."

Bruschi amazed teammates when he began working out with them in April.

"He was always at the meetings, and I saw him working out all the time," says tight end Christian Fauria, one of Bruschi's closest friends. "When we (did strength and conditioning testing) before we broke for the summer in June, Tedy still tested through the roof.

"It wasn't like he blew out his knee, where it was obvious you're out 6-8 months with a torn ACL. It was a heart condition that caused a stroke. Nobody knew how to treat it.

"All of us inside this room would be miserable without football because it's been such a big part of our lives for so long.

"I figured he'd tell us when he was ready to return. That's exactly what Tedy did."

It was odd to hear Patriots receiver Troy Brown questioning the passion of his 5-4 team not far from a player who took passionate commitment to his teammates to the ultimate level. What Brown really questioned was the play of several newcomers, especially in a sieve of a secondary that has a dynasty coming undone at the corners.

According to the American Stroke Association, about 700,000 Americans will have a stroke this year.

There's a reason the word "stroke" is so feared. It's our nation's No. 3 killer and a leading cause of severe long-term disability. Much depends on how quickly a victim receives emergency treatment. It is believed 5% of all strokes are related to a PFO in the heart.

Though physicians say many victims are at increased risk for a second stroke, that's not the case with Bruschi and Doyle, who had the cause of their strokes addressed.

"If one closes the hole in the heart as Tedy and Mike did, you are at no significant risk of stroke recurrence," says David Systrom, a pulmonary/critical care physician at Massachusetts General, whose intervention on that ski trip saved Doyle's life. "As a Patriots fan, a Tedy Bruschi fan and a Mike Doyle fan, those two guys have my utmost respect for what they've done. Both were incredibly courageous in the face of life-threatening illness. They wanted to fix what was fixable and get back to a normal lifestyle."

"Heidi and I talked about what type of ramifications my comeback can have, how it can inspire people and how some people would look at it and question it," Bruschi says.

"I've done some things for the American Stroke Association and the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, where I rehabbed to the point where I could rejoin the team. Hopefully, I can form partnerships with both those organizations that will last probably the rest of my life."

Bruschi will never forget the seemingly impossible road traveled since his wife's 911 call likely saved his life, never mind his career.

"A lot came with my comeback," Bruschi says. "But we're happy and honored that a lot of stroke survivors and a lot of people in America have been inspired."

 

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/patriots/2005-11-16-bruschi-return_x.htm

 

 

Tedy shares emotions
By John Tomase
Tuesday, November 15, 2005


It’s a credit to Tedy Bruschi the football player that it’s been so easy to forget what Tedy Bruschi the man has endured in the past month.

Bruschi returned from a stroke three weeks ago against Buffalo and won the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week award. On Sunday in Miami, he was his old, playmaking self, diving to deflect a sure touchdown pass and twice cartwheeling into the backfield to pressure Dolphins quarterback Gus Frerotte in the Patriots’ 23-16 victory.

The sight of Bruschi instinctively making plays is a familiar one, but don’t mistake it for a return to normalcy. The enormity of what the All-Pro linebacker has accomplished is not lost on him, as he admitted in some unusually candid comments following the game.

“Whenever you do something in this game, you like to gauge it by something else,” Bruschi said. “You compare yourself maybe to this guy or that guy who did it before, and I can’t do that because no one has ever been able to come back from a stroke to play pro football before.”

Bruschi has been able to keep his emotions in check, at least publicly, during his return to action. He has expressed abundant thanks to those who supported him during his convalescence, a time during which it appeared his career might be finished. He has lauded his wife, Heidi, and his teammates.

He has shied away, however, from describing the intensity of his own feelings.

“I can’t relate to you just how emotional the two weeks before the first Buffalo game were,” Bruschi said. “We had a bye week leading up to it. There was a lot of time to sit there and think about it.

“The emotions of that game, I can’t equate to any other I’ve played before or since. It was all the aspects of it – me coming back, the stroke, everything. I’m always going to hold that game separately because the way I felt in the third and fourth quarter, I don’t think I’ve ever felt that emotional.

“At the end of that game, everything I had been through just hit me,” Bruschi added. “All the people who said I shouldn’t play, all the calls from my family and friends, all the support I had, my wife being in the stands, the reception I got from the fans. It was indescribable the way I felt through that game. I had so much adrenaline going. By the time it was over, I was run down, spent, exhausted.”

The past two games, thankfully, have packed nowhere near the emotional wallop. On game day, Bruschi only feels the typical pregame jitters, but his accomplishment never strays far from his mind.

“That Buffalo game was so emotional in my life, you can’t compare it to the Colts game or this game,” Bruschi said. “I was very happy to get the Buffalo game done and under my belt. Now, I’m just focusing on winning. I’ve got to worry about playing linebacker and getting better every week, doing whatever I can for this team.”

If that means making a little bit of history every time he takes the field, so be it.

“No one has done this before, and with that comes the unknown,” Bruschi said. “A lot of people fear the unknown. I just had to push through it and realize, ‘Hey someone has to do this first, and it’s going to be me.’ ”

 
BostonHerald.com - Patriots & NFL: Tedy shares emotions

This Week's Notes and Quotes:


And, of course, there was Tedy Bruschi. How could you miss him? The high-flying, ought-to-be-wearing-a-cape stroke victim seemed to be all over the field.

''I'm just playing the way I know how to play," Bruschi said. ''Third game back, I keep getting better myself. That's the goal I have individually: improve from week to week."

Bruschi laughed when asked about his aerial work, which included a leap over running back Sammy Morris on a blitz on Miami's third offensive play. Think that wasn't a signal to his teammates that he was going to get after it all day?

Bruschi says he fed off his teammates' energy. Perhaps it was the other way around.

''Maybe my wife cringed when she saw that a couple of times, but I'm out there playing, I'm out there playing football," Bruschi said. ''I'm not going to hold back. It's my third game now, and I haven't had any preseason or anything like that, but it's time to go for it. It's time to play football.

''I know I'm doing well, I feel great."

 

Defense stoked fire in Patriots - The Boston Globe

 

Gritty Pats looking for a big finish
By Glen Farley, Enterprise staff writer


FOXBORO — Last season, the New England Patriots extended a winning streak, which dated back more than a year, to 21.

This season, they're giving thanks for two in a row.

"It's been challenging for this team," quarterback Tom Brady admitted.

How challenging?

Ten games into the 2005 season, the two-time defending Super Bowl champions boast their first winning streak of the year.

"We came off a big win at Miami," linebacker Rosevelt Colvin said, "and we backed it up with our play."

Backing a 23-16 win at Dolphins Stadium on Nov. 13 with a 24-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints at Gillette on Sunday, the Patriots carved themselves a two-game lead in the weak AFC East, a division where their 6-4 mark is the only winning record.

This is the state of the AFC East today: Remove the Patriots from the equation on Sunday and the division got swept, going 0-3 and losing by a cumulative points total of 97-10.

The rest of the division looks like General Custer's troops at Little Big Horn.

The Patriots?

"We're fighting," said their field general, Brady.

Consistent with any battle, the Patriots have been taken on casualties — heavy casualties, in fact.

"Oh, man. Never, never have I seen injuries that have really decimated a team like ours," Brady said during his weekly appearance on Boston radio station WEEI Monday morning. "Really, the defense (got hit) early and then the defense got healthier and the offense has really been fighting it.

"It's been challenging for everybody, but I think the good part is we're 6-4, we're ahead in our division by a couple of games, and we've got some games here we really need to play well in. If we do that, we'll be sitting in a good position at the end of the year.

"Hopefully, we'll start getting healthy from some of those injuries," said Brady. "It's really going to add to the depth and quality of our team. That's what I'm excited about. I'm excited for what we can accomplish here in the next six weeks."

For now, though, there is an audible, an adjustment in the team's thinking.

These "ain't" your father's Patriots — and they sure "ain't" the 2003 or 2004 Pats.

In the words of linebacker Tedy Bruschi, "you have to temper your expectations.

"It would be easy to get frustrated and say, 'Last year, this. Last year, that,'" said Bruschi. "We separate the years here. We separate the weeks and the days here.

"You can't think because we won 21 in a row we should win 31 in a row. You have to have the ability to adapt to the situation. When you're winning a game and losing a game, winning a game and losing a game, you just have to think about winning the game (at hand). Don't get too far ahead of yourself."

And so it is.

Back-to-back Super Bowl championships prompted parades following the 2003 and 2004 campaigns.

In 2005, back-to-back wins might be reason to strike up the band and book Boston's City Hall Plaza.

"I don't see us blowing anybody out," Bruschi said following a game that began with the Patriots forging a 14-point in 16-1/2 minutes and ended with Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks flinging potential game-tying passes into the end zone, "so get used to this."

Owner Robert Kraft has been named the winner of this year's NCAA Theodore Roosevelt Award.

Kraft will receive the award, given to former NCAA athletes for career achievement, during the annual NCAA convention in Indianapolis in January.

Kraft earned a varsity football letter at Columbia College as a member of the 1960 varsity lightweight football team. He graduated in 1963.


The Enterprise at SouthofBoston.com

 

 

Bittersweet win
By John Tomase / Boston Herald
Monday, November 21, 2005


FOXBORO -- The scene is etched in Tedy Bruschi's memory.

The Patriots had just beaten the Philadelphia Eagles in last year's Super Bowl. Bill Belichick embraced his father, Steve, a man of few words who bequeathed far more than coaching acumen to his only child.

Gatorade bucket in hand, Bruschi paused.

"I thought, 'Oh, what a sweet moment,' " said Bruschi, a devilish grin creasing his face. " 'I'll get 'em both.' "

It became one of the iconic images of the Pats' third Super Bowl championship in four years: the 85-year-old coach dripping alongside his more famous son.

Bruschi's smile flickered as he told the story yesterday, but it quickly faded. He and his teammates had just discovered what their coach found out the night before: Steve Belichick died peacefully in his Annapolis, Md., home while watching college football Saturday night at age 86.

That didn't stop Bill Belichick from doing what gave his father immense pride. He coached the Patriots to a 24-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints yesterday, then immediately left for Maryland to grieve.

"It's tough to lose your dad at any age," Patriots tight end Christian Fauria said. "Then you throw in someone who's a head coach in the middle of a crazy football season and all the pressure that goes with it, it would break the average man."

Belichick held it together well enough for the Patriots to win two straight games for the first time this season. Coupled with Buffalo's loss at San Diego, the Pats opened a two-game lead in the AFC East.

Though they made things interesting in the fourth quarter -- the game ended with Eugene Wilson intercepting the potential game-tying touchdown in the end zone -- the Pats basically outclassed the vagabond Saints.

"It's the first time this year we've won two in a row," running back Patrick Pass said. "We've been teeter-tottering back and forth. Now we need to keep it going."

The Patriots submitted one of their most balanced offensive efforts of the season. With starting tailback Corey Dillon inactive, fullback Heath Evans (16 carries, 74 yards) and Pass (13 rushes, 53 yards) opened the skies for play-action passes.

Quarterback Tom Brady lofted six sideline bombs toward Andre' Davis downfield. The duo only batted .167, but their lone hit was a home run: Davis outraced Dwight Smith for a 60-yard touchdown that gave the Pats a 21-7 lead with 4:19 left in the third.

"The Saints had a very aggressive defense," Davis said. "The safeties were playing up a lot to stop the run and that gave us an opportunity to take advantage of their aggressiveness and hit them over the top."

Defensively, the Patriots limited the Saints starting backfield of Antowain Smith and Aaron Stecker to 57 yards on 18 carries (3.2 average). Quarterback Aaron Brooks, pressured throughout, finished with 343 passing yards but 125 of them came in the fourth quarter.

Yet, when it was over, the game was the last thing on anyone's mind.

"Life is precious," defensive end Richard Seymour said. "The team could really feel what coach Belichick was going through. You could hear it in his postgame speech that he had a heavy heart. Our thoughts and emotions and feelings are with him and his family."

Players recalled the elder Belichick's frequent sideline appearances and the softening effect they often had on their demanding coach. In a statement, Belichick noted his dad spent his final moments watching Navy beat Temple in the afternoon before taking in more college football at night.

"His heart just stopped beating," Belichick said. "I'm sure that's the way he would have wanted it to end. He went peacefully, which is unusual for him."

Assistant coach Dante Scarnecchia will run things for the next day or two. Players like Bruschi, meanwhile, are left with memories of a man whose influence on their coach can't be overstated.

"Put it this way -- I didn't want to get too much water on him," Bruschi said. "I got some ice on him and he survived that, so I knew he was a tough guy. He was a lot like Bill. He will be missed."

Roosevelt Colvin celebrates Eugene Wilson's interception on the last play of the Patriots 24-17 win over New Orleans. (Winslow Townson photo)

MetroWest Daily News - Sports Coverage

 

My Sportsman Choice: Tedy Bruschi
Posted: Wednesday November 23, 2005


By Lisa Altobelli

As Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi ran out of the tunnel at Gillette Stadium on Halloween, he was greeted by more than 68,000 euphoric members of Patriot Nation embracing his much-needed return. But as he lined up for his first play since his stroke eight months earlier, the nation -- Patriot and otherwise -- collectively held its breath. The Bills handed the ball to running back Willis McGahee and Bruschi lunged and fell to the ground next to McGahee. And then, as he had promised his wife, Heidi, he got up quickly. Everyone exhaled.

Playing 64 of 77 defensive downs in that game, the 6-2, 247-pound resilient leader of the Patriots defense made it seem like business as usual. But, of course, it wasn't. Three days after having played in the Pro Bowl last February, Bruschi woke up and couldn't walk so well or see his three sons so clearly. He later learned that a blood clot had passed through a hole in his heart, medically known as a patent foramen ovale, and caused a stroke.

The good doctors at Massachusetts General implanted a plug in the aforementioned hole and in October they unanimously decided that Bruschi could play football again. Patriots owner Bob Kraft was so confident in the diagnosis that he didn't even make Bruschi sign a medical liability waiver. But the real deciding factor in Tedy's comeback had come when little Tedy Jr. looked up and said, "Dad, the team needs you."

Not one to disappoint his four-year-old, Bruschi decided to return, even though no one has ever played professional football with a plug in their heart -- a sport that Curt Marsh once told SI was like getting in 70 traffic accidents a game.

Everyone had an opinion regarding his decision, but the one thing that no one could deny was that Bruschi, 32, is just an all-around good guy. A guy who former Arizona coach Dick Tomey praised for outworking everyone on the team as a mere freshman. A guy who when drafted by the Patriots four years later, said he would do everything he could to end his career in New England. A guy who regularly sends flowers to his wife and gets up early to help with his sons. A guy who emcees hospital charity events, plays alto sax with middle school kids. A guy who calls up his biggest fan, Randy Pierce, who his blind, to ask for permission to use Pierce's slogan for him, "Full Tilt Full Time", to put on T-shirts to benefit tsunami victims.

When Bruschi rejoined a team that desperately needed him, he immediately became an inspiration to other stroke victims, many who no doubt said that if he can make a full recovery, I can too, because it's possible.

Bruschi has graced SI's cover twice -- the first time more than a decade ago, accompanied by the heading "Rock Solid," and again last January, behind the tag "Defense Rules the Playoffs." Both appearances were fitting, but after the year he's had, this hero deserves one more headline -- 2005 Sportsman of the Year.

SI.com - 2005 Sportsman of the Year - My Sportsman Choice: Tedy Bruschi - Wednesday November 23, 2005 1:47PM

Spirit of day alive in Bruschi
By Jerome Solomon, Globe Staff | November 24, 2005


FOXBOROUGH -- Today certainly is not the first Thanksgiving for Tedy Bruschi, 32.

It is not the first Thanksgiving for Tedy Bruschi, Heidi's husband, or Tedy Bruschi, father of Tedy Jr., Rex, and Dante.

Nor is it the first Thanksgiving for Tedy Bruschi, 10-year veteran linebacker of the New England Patriots.

But today is the first Thanksgiving for Tedy Bruschi, stroke survivor.

''First and foremost, I'm thankful to be alive," Bruschi said yesterday, at times fighting his emotions as he stood in front of his locker at Gillette Stadium pondering the significance of today's holiday. ''From what I went through to where I am now, to have gotten my life back, to be able to see my kids every day . . . [I'm thankful for] every single thing.

''It's something to where I just feel fortunate. I feel fortunate that I can play this game that I love. I loved playing football before, but the feeling that I have out there now, it's magnified even more . . . Every day I wake up and thank God for the day that I'm alive."

And almost every day, he is reminded how much his return to football, less than nine months after suffering a stroke, means to his growing legion of fans. Stroke survivors and their family members have reached out to Bruschi in large numbers.

''When I read a letter or get an e-mail from a stroke survivor telling me that I'm an inspiration, it's a honor," Bruschi said. ''Because I've done a lot of things in my life, but one of the things I'm most proud of is when people write me and call me a stroke survivor.

''I realize I'll be looked at like that for the rest of my life, and I accept that. It's an honor to me that I can be some type of inspiration. The reception that I've gotten on the street or when people see me out in public is very flattering."

It carries over to the field, too, where Bruschi has played well since rejoining the team four games ago. Opponents have gone out of their way to welcome Bruschi back to the NFL or to tell him he is in their prayers. Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy sought out Bruschi after the game Nov. 7 to wish him well.

''I think every player in the league has rehabbed from maybe a knee or shoulder injury or something like that, so I think they understand what I went through a little bit," Bruschi said. ''For them, in the heat of the battle, helping me up saying, 'Nice to have you back Tedy,' . . ."

Of course, Bruschi notes the pats on the back do not come during play, which leads to his message to friendly foes.

''I appreciate you helping me up, and yes it's good to be back, but try and not hit me in the back next time," he said, laughing.

Emotions aside, Bruschi is yet to be the football player he was, and expects to be again.

After suffering vision and motor-skill problems after the stroke, Bruschi slowly recovered to full strength. His weightlifting and running regimen helped prepare him to return, but nothing could prepare one for the rigors of the NFL, except playing in games.

Bruschi admits he played his first game back against Buffalo on ''pure adrenaline."

''The emotions in that game, I can't equate that to any other game I've had before," Bruschi said. ''I don't think I ever felt emotionally that way on the field. That game was so emotional to my life . . . I was very happy to get that game done."

Bruschi felt ''fortunate" that his next outing was a Monday night game, providing an extra day of recovery time. He had nine tackles against the Colts, but they were mostly meaningless, as the Patriots were drilled, 40-21.

Using his progress against Miami and New Orleans the last two weeks as a barometer, Bruschi said he can feel himself headed toward starting to play as he did last season, when he earned his first Pro Bowl nod.

''This is the first time I've done this, jumping into the season in the seventh week, so it's been a little bit of a process and a little bit of a learning curve to see where I have to improve in areas of my game," he said. ''I'm feeling comfortable now, and it's time to really start making plays."

Though he doesn't have any interceptions or fumble recoveries, Bruschi's presence has been felt. He was aggressive against the Dolphins Nov. 13, flying over blockers to chase (though not catch) quarterback Gus Frerotte on several occasions, and he had a touchdown-saving pass breakup. He posted 10 tackles against the Saints last Sunday, as the Patriots put in one of their best efforts against the run this season.

More importantly, the Patriots won both games, starting their first winning streak of the season.

Bruschi is all about winning -- on the field and in life. Through the hardships of this year, he has found new victories.

Today is not the first day Tedy Bruschi has been thankful for the joys and blessings in his life. But it is the first Thanksgiving Day for which Tedy Bruschi, stroke survivor, will give thanks.

''Don't get me wrong when I say this, I want to win every time I go out there," Bruschi said. ''Every single snap, I want to have a tackle for a loss, get a sack, score a touchdown. I want to win every single game that I play. But in the back of my mind after every game, when I'm walking off the field, I realize that it's a victory for all the stroke survivors out there. Win or lose, it's a victory for stroke survivors. I realize the magnitude of what I'm doing.

''We'd have to sit down and talk about all I'm thankful for. I'd have to go through every single minute of my day. I'm thankful for every one of them, every single moment. Especially my children, my wife . . . if there's anyone in the locker room that realizes you need to be thankful for what you have, I think it's me."



Spirit of day alive in Bruschi - The Boston Globe

Bruschi gives thanks: Wins, losses not so vital
By Karen Guregian
Thursday, November 24, 2005 - Updated: 08:21 AM EST


FOXBORO – Tedy Bruschi sat at his locker, with his face pressed against a white towel. When he finally took the towel away, he apologized for getting so emotional.

There was really no need. With yesterday being Thanksgiving eve, Bruschi had been asked what the holiday meant to him in light of the stroke he suffered in February.

What ensued, with Bruschi nearly reaching the point of tears as the line of questioning continued to focus on his recovery and stunning return to football, was nothing to apologize for. It all seemed pretty natural given the circumstances.

The fact that Bruschi has been back playing linebacker for four games, and has been in on 35 tackles in those games, hasn’t made the ordeal old hat to him, or any less meaningful in his life.

If you let him, he’d sit back and talk for hours about all he’s thankful for. Remember, nine months ago, this man was unsteady on his feet, unsure of his future, and unable to see clearly when he opened his eyes. Nine months ago, Trent Green, Larry Johnson, Tony Gonzalez and the Kansas City Chiefs weren’t on his radar screen.

“First and foremost, I’m thankful to be alive. From what I went through, to where I am now, to have gotten my life back, to be able to see my kids every day, (I’m thankful) for every single thing,” Bruschi told the media horde gathered around his locker. “I just feel fortunate I can still play this game I love. I loved playing football before, but the feeling I have out there now, it’s magnified even more. I could go on and on. Every day I wake up and thank God for the day I’m alive.”

Bruschi has come to so many different realizations about football and his place in the game since he’s returned to the field. His perspective about winning and losing has changed.

“Don’t get me wrong when I say this. I want to win every time I go out there. Every single snap, I want to tackle someone for a loss, get a sack, score a touchdown. I want to win every single game that I play,” he said. “But, in the back of my mind after every game I play, when I’m walking off the field, I realize it’s a victory. It’s a victory for all the stroke survivors out there. Win or lose, it’s a victory for stroke survivors.

“When we lost that Colt game, I was very upset,” he added. “But (at the same time) I realize the magnitude of what I’m doing.”

While several others have attempted to return to their respective sports following a stroke, he is the only one known to have done so in football. He is the pioneer. He is the test pilot on this flight, and he won’t take the job, or the responsibility, lightly.

“When I read a letter, or get an e-mail from a stroke survivor telling me that I’m an inspiration to them, or something like that, it’s an honor for me,” Bruschi said. “I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but one of the things I’m most proud of is when people write me, and call me a fellow stroke survivor. I realize I’ll be looked at like that for the rest of my life. And I accept that. It’s an honor I can provide some kind of inspiration. The reception I’ve gotten on the street, or when I’m out in public, is very flattering.”

The same can be said for what’s happened on the field. Opposing players and rival coaches have gone out of their way to shake his hand, or in some cases, help him up after plays. Those displays of kindness and signs of respect from his peers and colleagues has meant a lot.

But more than anything, when every day ends, when Bruschi leaves the field and goes home, he knows the score. He knows what he has, and almost lost.

“Every time I walk in the door and see my kids, they ask me what I’m thankful for,” Bruschi said. “I go through every single minute of my day. Every single moment. My children, my wife. . . . If there’s anyone in this locker room who realizes to be thankful for what you have, it’s me.”

BostonHerald.com - Patriots & NFL: Bruschi gives thanks: Wins, losses not so vital

 

Patriots beat: Bruschi serves up inspiration, thanks
By Albert Breer/ Daily News Staff
Thursday, November 24, 2005


FOXBORO -- Tomorrow, he'll come to practice. Saturday, he'll get on a plane headed for the heartland. Sunday, he'll strap it on and line up on the inside of Bill Belichick's 3-4 defense against Kansas City.

There's a certain normalcy to all of that for Tedy Bruschi.

He's a professional football player, and that's what he does.

But he's also a father, and a person with a life outside the game. So instead of one of those next three days being the most important, now -- after all he's been through -- today will be.

The day he gets to sit with his family, his wife and three young sons, and appreciate them for all they mean to him. More than anything, on this Thanksgiving, he's thankful they're there and that he will be, too.

"It's every time I walk in the door and see my kids," Bruschi said yesterday. "You ask me what I'm thankful for, we'd have to sit down and talk about every single minute of my day, and I am thankful for every moment. Especially my children, my wife."

Bruschi says he's a father and husband, first and foremost. The thing is, he's become so much more than that, so much more than the 35 tackles he's made through four games, so much more than the stabilizing force he's provided the middle of the defense.

He's now a symbol of courage, a symbol of conviction. To football fans, yes. But moreso to everyone who knows just how he felt on that February day a little more than eight months ago.

Because when he made it through his stroke, he wasn't alone. He had his family. He also had a sort of fraternity of those who'd survived similar episodes by his side.

A fraternity he became all the more aware of as he returned on the night of Oct. 30.

"When I read a letter, or I get an e-mail from a stroke survivor telling me that I'm an inspiration to them, it's an honor, it really is," Bruschi explained. "Because I've done a lot of things in my life, and I think the thing I'm most proud of is when people write me and call me a 'fellow stroke survivor.'

"I realize I'll be looked at as that for probably the rest of my life. And I accept that. It's an honor I can provide some type of inspiration."

He provides that not just to other survivors, but also to other elite athletes.

At this level, there are few that haven't been through some kind of major rehab. Heck, he has. So they all have a sort of baseline understanding of what he's done to get back on the field.

They also understand what he went through, as scary a time as can be imagined, was just different.

"In the Buffalo game, the Miami game, Tony Dungy coming up to me after the Colts game, things like that," said Bruschi. "Players just letting me know how they felt about it, and how they were praying for me, it's very flattering to see a colleague of yours, because every player in the league has rehabbed from a knee injury or a shoulder or something like that.

"So they see my story, and I think they understand what I went through a little bit. For them to, in the heat of battle, help me up and give me a nice pat on the back, it's very flattering."

And when he leaves the field, win or lose, he knows there's a little something others can take from what he did.

Doesn't matter if he has two tackles or 10, his mere presence means something. No matter how hard a loss can sting, or how much he can get caught up in a big win, Bruschi makes a point not to forget that, now and forever.

"When we lost that Colt game, I felt very, very upset," he said. "But in the back of my mind, I realized the magnitude of what I'm doing. As the season goes along, maybe it'll hit me a little bit more. I'm so focused right now, so when the season ends, and I have time to look back, I think it'll really sink in."

For now, he'll just say that he's thinking a little differently than everyone else in the locker room. He's seen the end, and come back from it. He's humbled by his experiences over the last nine months, and at the same time, empowered by them.

"If there's anyone in this locker room that realizes to be thankful for what you have," he said, "I think it's me."

It will be tomorrow, when he's out in the cold on the Gillette Stadium practice fields, that he'll give thanks. And on Saturday, when he has time to think on the plane. And Sunday, when he leaves the locker room for the field at Arrowhead.

But no more, never more, than it will be in moments like the ones he'll have this afternoon.

MetroWest Daily News - Sports Columnists

PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK
This time, Bruschi had some downtime
By Amalie Benjamin, Globe Staff | November 29, 2005


FOXBOROUGH -- Four weeks ago, it was a victory just to see stroke survivor Tedy Bruschi on the football field. He played nearly every down in his return against the Bills, going almost purely on adrenaline. But in his fifth game back, against the Chiefs Sunday, the second half found him on the sideline for a few plays.

After Bruschi missed a few tackles -- most notably on Larry Johnson -- in the first half, Monty Beisel and Chad Brown got to see increased time at inside linebacker alongside Mike Vrabel. Beisel and Brown estimated they spent five to six plays at the position, more than they had in the past few weeks. Brown said his time mostly came on third downs.

''We've got good players," Bruschi said. ''Monty played a little more, Chad played a little more, and that's just the way it went."

Despite that, Bruschi led the Patriots in tackles for the first time since returning to the lineup, piling up nine total (eight solo). Beisel had two in his limited time on the field. Brown did not record a stop.

''There's nothing personally going on with Tedy," said coach Bill Belichick. ''That's the way the situation came up in the game. That's the way the rotation was set up. Got to spread it out."
 

This time, Bruschi had some downtime - The Boston Globe

Bruschi already ahead of game
By Tony Massarotti
Friday, December 2, 2005 - Updated: 03:05 AM EST


We forget sometimes that they are people; that beneath the pads, helmets and facemasks, they are real men with real lives. We forget that there are sizable gaps between the Sundays, that their time on the field is just a fraction of who they are.

Tedy Bruschi is a father and husband, and he is man coming off a stroke. There is just no way around that. Bruschi now has played five games since making a miraculous return to the Patriots, and his play has been, in a word, decent. Bruschi is getting better week by week, according to the player and his coach, but it might still be some time before we see the Bruschi of old.

At some point, beyond the hype and drama of Bruschi’s incredible story, that is the understandable end result.

He needs time.

“He’s getting better every week,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said yesterday. “When you go through training camp, you usually have in the neighborhood of 40 practices, not counting walk-throughs and stuff like that. . . . During the season, it’s really 2 1/2 (a week). It’s Wednesday and Thursday.

“You take a guy in the regular season, let’s say he plays for five weeks, like Bruschi has. That’s 10, 13, 14 practices. That’s a third of training camp. It’s just not the same. You have some games in there, too, and that’s good experience, but it’s just not the same as having 30, 35 training camp practices. When you allocate that kind of time during the regular season, it just takes longer.

“It’s just not the same,” Belichick added. “I don’t know any player that could do that.”

Will Bruschi ever be the same player? That is the real question here. There is just no way to know for sure.

Last summer, after undergoing major offseason surgery on his right ankle, Red Sox ace Curt Schilling acknowledged he might never be the same pitcher. Schilling pitched fairly well at times, poorly at others. He remains a relative uncertainty as the Red Sox prepare for Opening Day 2006, at which point Schilling will be roughly 18 months removed from the trauma on his ankle.

Schilling had ankle surgery.

Bruschi had a stroke.

During the summer, here is what else Schilling said: As much as the surgery rebuilt his ankle, it similarly derailed his training program. He was behind from the start, and he never caught up, which is part of what is happening with Bruschi now.

And like the Red Sox, who had an inept pitching staff, the banged-up Patriots defense is forced to ask more of Bruschi than they probably should.

“This is something I’ve never done before — jumping back in the seventh week,” Bruschi said. “It’s just a process. I think it’s gotten better as it’s gone along. To tell the truth, right now I think I’m close. I can’t say I’m all the way back where I was because I believe in the process.”

Last week at Kansas City, Bruschi had perhaps his worst game since returning to the field. He had those games before his stroke, too. The events of last February were not career-altering experience as much as they were life-altering, and it is easy to discount the latter when we tune in once a week and watch a man disguised in shoulder pads and a helmet.

And Bruschi, perhaps more than anyone else, has to temper his expectations, too.

“What I have to do,” he said, “is not put pressure on myself to do too much.”

Is he kidding?

Under the circumstances, he has accomplished far too much already.

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Bruschi already ahead of game

Looks don't count much if it's a win
By Ron Borges | December 5, 2005


FOXBOROUGH -- This time a year ago, they were 11-1 and the talk was all about home-field advantage. Yesterday, the focus was simpler for the New England Patriots.

''Win ugly, win pretty, this time of year it doesn't matter," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said after his team came away from a frigid day at Razor Blade Field with a 16-3 win over the sad-sack New York Jets that was, shall we say, not exactly surgical. But that is the beauty of the situation the Patriots are in. It doesn't matter. No one is concerned about style points any more.

''Get the 'W' however we can," Bruschi said. ''That's all I'm looking at. I haven't compared our situation to last year because when you compare, that's when you start to get in trouble. But 3 points feels good. I can tell you that. A 'W' and 3 points. That's a good combination."

After you've allowed your opponents to roll up more than 400 yards of offense in seven of the last eight games and seen the past three quarterbacks you've faced throw for more than 300 yards, holding even as poor an excuse for an NFL team as the Jets to 41 yards rushing, 123 net passing yards, a total offensive output of 164 yards, and an average gain per play of a measly 3 yards was the kind of combination the Patriots needed for their mental health as much as for their place in the standings.

This morning New England stands at 7-5, holders of a two-game edge over the Miami Dolphins in the AFC East with a road game in Buffalo Sunday that could, if the Patriots win, nearly sew up the division title. Not completely, but it would be so close that it would take a complete collapse to deny them a return to the postseason.

But we get ahead of ourselves, which is something the Patriots are not prone to do. Instead, they looked at what they did yesterday as no more and no less than what it was. It was a much needed ''W." It was good enough.

It was, of course, more than that, too. It was a dismantling of the Jets' offense by a suddenly more aggressive defense that sent linebackers after the quarterback for the first time in weeks and attacked the line of scrimmage with Richard Seymour & Co. so effectively Curtis Martin averaged only 1.9 yards a carry on 15 runs.

Offensively, the running game improved, amassing 146 yards, but the return of Corey Dillon (65 yards) and Kevin Faulk (35 yards) hardly returned the Patriots to their glory days. But they weren't worried about that, either. They were worried only about winning a game and they won it the old-fashioned Patriot way. They won it by controlling the clock, holding the ball for 38 minutes 10 seconds, and they won by being stingy on defense.

Tom Brady did what he's done four times after a four-interception day, too, coming back with a sterling 93.4 passer rating by completing 27 of 37 throws for 271 yards. There were no touchdown passes, but seven players had at least two receptions and five had at least one catch of 13 yards or more. When it came to distributing the ball, Brady was The Cooz in knickers and a helmet.

They were not perfect defensively, and offensively they were far from overwhelming but they were good enough and if they can duplicate that three or four more times in the next month, they'll be good enough to get into the playoffs, and then we'll see.

Bruschi, Brady, coach Bill Belichick, and the rest of the Patriots have grown to understand that no matter what problems they may face, if they can just get into the postseason, the slate is clean. And so they looked at yesterday's 16-3 win over the 2-10 Jets as what it was and didn't worry that they should have won by more or that they didn't play as cleanly and consistently as they would have liked.

All they focused on was a brief sense of relief that, after a difficult season of injury and somewhat regular beatings from the league's elite teams, they are still alive with a month to go. Not alive and well but alive and getting well, which is an improvement.

''We have to worry about us," Seymour said. ''Obviously, what we were doing wasn't working. We couldn't sit there and keep doing the same thing if we wanted things to change."

So they urged defensive coordinator Eric Mangini to let them loose defensively. They asked to be set free to attack the Jets. To, as Seymour put it, ''take the fight to them rather than sit back and read and react."

Defensively, that paid a big dividend as the Patriots sacked Brooks Bollinger twice, intercepted one pass, and forced the Jets to punt on six of their first seven possessions before stopping them on downs on the ninth.

Offensively, after a slow start, they scored on four straight possessions between early in the second quarter and early in the fourth to ice the game. Nothing about it was perfect but when you hold the ball for 10 minutes 54 seconds of a 15-minute quarter, as New England did in the third, there's not a whole lot more you can do.

Was it pretty? Not when compared to the recent past. Was it dominating? Not when compared to the recent past. Was it good enough? Sure, when compared to the recent past.

''When you have a game like we had last week [a trampling in Kansas City], you just want to come back and have a positive game," Bruschi said.

In the end, that's what they had. They had a positive game. For the moment, that'll do just fine.

''We're going to have to make this a copycat effort," nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. ''We want to win. We don't care how. I think today a lot of people felt this game would make or break us. We proved to ourselves that we're capable of doing what we want to do when we put our minds to it. We can't go backwards from here now."

All they can do now is concentrate on one letter: Concentrate on the ''W's." Focus on that and the rest of their worries will take care of themselves.

Looks don't count much if it's a win - The Boston Globe

 

(CBS4) This is no game for Tedy Bruschi -- coming face to face with stroke survivors brings it all back.

“It reminds me where I came from and how hard it was to get back on the field.”

But he did in one of the great moments of sports -- just ten months after suffering a stroke.

“I wasn't able to walk I wasn't able to see, so I can truly relate to how difficult it can be at times.

Bruschi's recovery has become a source of inspiration for these stroke survivors. Unlike days ago, Steve Fontaine can now stand for a picture with the linebacker.

He shares his experience, and was grateful to hear the Brady family share theirs, how they knew the signs in 42-year-old David because of Bruschi.

Bruschi's departure from the hospital was the first step in a long comeback journey. Here he leaves souvenirs, but something more -- a message.

“If you put the time in, you can get back to where you were,” says stroke survivor Tom Cannarozzo. “You can be as strong and fit as you used to be.”

 

http://cbs4boston.com/local/local_story_339225513.html

BRUSCHI CREATES TOUCHDOWNS
Tedy Bruschi tipped a ball into the air in the fourth quarter that was intercepted by James Sanders and returned for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 35-0 lead. Bruschi’s nose for the ball has now created seven defensive touchdowns since the 2002 season. He scored four touchdowns himself on interception returns (two each in 2002 and 2003), and forced two fumbles that were picked up and returned for scores (10/03/04 at Buffalo and 11/28/04 vs. Baltimore). Bruschi has had a part in defensive touchdowns in each of the Patriots’ last two trips to Ralph Wilson Stadium. Last season, he sacked Drew Bledsoe and forced a fumble that was picked up by Richard Seymour and returned for a touchdown in a 31-17 victory on Oct. 3, 2004.

Official Website of the New England Patriots

All aboard for Pats bandwagon

By Tom King
The Telegraph

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The bandwagon officially started Sunday and it’ll be slowly chugging by your house soon. It’s running pretty well, too, since it’s been in the garage all fall.

After sputtering through the first 11 weeks of the season, struggling to maintain traction on the slippery road to the playoffs, the bandwagon has finally passed inspection. It was tuned up, registered and pronounced ready to go on Saturday.

So climb on board. Destination: Indianapolis.

Never mind that the New England Patriots will still have a playoff game to play on the weekend of Jan. 7-8. From what the Bandwagon Bunch has seen the last three weeks, especially after Saturday’s 28-0 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it should be no problem.

Then Indianapolis comes up on Sunday, Jan. 14, in the RCA Dome.

"We’re not playing the playoffs next week," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. "We’re playing the Jets."

True, but as a result of a dominant performance against the Buccaneers, the Patriots will be in the playoffs in three weeks. Now everyone is starting to think three weeks from now and beyond.

Can’t blame them.

Two weeks ago, the focus was still on the task at hand.

"We beat the Jets," linebacker Willie McGinest said matter-of-factly, refusing to look to far beyond the following week’s opponent.

But on Saturday, the Patriots not only beat a Tampa Bay team exponentially better than the hapless New York Jets, they devoured them for an early Christmas dinner.

"This is a stepping stone," McGinest said. "This is one step in the goal we’re trying to go. The guys did a good job of coming out and getting up for this game."

McGinest included himself in that, saying he heard one commentator say he felt "sorry for our offense today, because of Tampa Bay’s defense" which was ranked second in the league coming in.

"I kind of took that personal because nobody mentioned our defense and what we’re going to do, as if they were going to run all over us and shut us out," McGinest said. "So keep making those predictions, and we’ll keep winning."

If Bucs coach Jon Gruden is such a supposed offensive wizard, how come he couldn’t figure a way to challenge the New England secondary down the field?

"Well, you’ve got to take some shots," Gruden admitted afterward. "We did have a few called. The ones that we had called never got launched. That happens to me sometimes. You ever see the duds, the smoke bombs that you buy at the store, and you light the fuse and it doesn’t go off? We had a couple of duds today."

That may have been because the Bucs had no running game. Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour had four tackles (three unassisted) and was a force that helped hold Tampa Bay to 30 total rushing yards. The Patriots have yielded just 85 yards rushing over the past three games.

That made it open season on Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms, as the Patriots recorded seven sacks - six by linebackers. Forget about throwing downfield when that happens.

"It’s a lot of different guys," McGinest said. "You have a lot of guys making plays. Our front seven, our D-line is playing well. We have a veteran group back at linebacker. But we’re all working together, we’re all feeding off each other."

Tedy Bruschi’s return from a mild stroke suffered 10 months ago was big news in its own right, but he’s now back to being the player he was before. He led the team with nine unassisted tackles (11 total) Saturday and two sacks. He whooped it up after one sack, but said that didn’t mean this was anything extra special.

"No, it’s just showing I’m excited to be playing football," Bruschi said. "It’s more exciting when you make plays, you know? That’s just me showing excitement and emotion and that’s what my game is."

This win made it seem like the good ol’ days are back. A banged-up Brady throws for three touchdowns, one of them to a burly lineman-turned-receiver named Tom Ashworth. As Bruschi said, having linebacker Mike Vrabel as the unlikely offensive option was getting old anyway.

One television reporter went so far as to ask a lot of the defensive players if that unit has its "swagger" back.

"I hate that word - ‘swagger,’" Bruschi said. "It’s borderline arrogance, if you ask me. You play well or you don’t play well. It’s just us getting better. That’s how I like to look at it. Us getting better, to have every linebacker, all four of us contribute the way we did today, it doesn’t happen a lot."

How about momentum?

"A little bit," Bruschi said. "We want to get going, because we know it’s getting toward the end of the season. This is when division championships are won, this is when you start jockeying for playoff position. Games mean something now, no matter who you play."

It’s a long NFL season and maybe we have to take things in stride. Back in October, after the San Diego Chargers scored at will in clobbering the Patriots, New England players reacted angrily to Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer’s mere suggestion that, even with the great teams, injuries will take their toll at some point.

Now read the words of the coach who the Patriots just shellacked.

"Who doubts them?" Gruden said. "Right now, the people that doubt them, let’s put their names in the newspaper so New England knows who they are. I don’t know how you doubt them. They have the best quarterback in the league, the coach is a great coach, and they are a physical, veteran-laden team. They are a handful. That’s my opinion."

He’s not alone. It’s an opinion that is gaining more and more support.

Thus, today, the wheels of the New England Patriots Bandwagon Bus go round and round. Hop on board because the seats are filling up fast.

Portsmouth Herald National Sports: All aboard for Pats bandwagon

Backers no slackers: Veteran unit sparks shutout
By Rich Thompson
Sunday, December 18, 2005 -

FOXBORO - Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms was a hapless victim in a horror show produced by the Patriots’ 50-somethings.
 

    Linebackers Willie McGinest (uniform No. 55), Tedy Bruschi (No. 54), Rosevelt Colvin (No. 59) and Mike Vrabel (No. 50) combined for six sacks and 30 tackles yesterday in the Patriots’ 28-0 victory over the Bucs at Gillette Stadium.
 

    The Patriots defense was a significant factor in the win that clinched the team’s third straight AFC East title and the fourth in the last five seasons.
 

    All of the Patriots’ starting linebackers are veterans capable of making big plays in any game. It was the first time this season that each of the four players recorded a sack, and the linebacking unit accounted for nearly half of the team’s 66 tackles. Bruschi and McGinest each had two sacks in the first shutout on defensive coordinator Eric Mangini’s watch.
 

    “I think every group in the defense takes it upon itself to make plays and we as linebackers really feel that we are involved in the passing game by dropping back in coverage and rushing the passer,” Bruschi said. “We feel it’s got to be us at times to set the tone and it was nice that all of us got it today.
 

    “All of us had something and you don’t usually have games like that. Usually Rosey will do something or Vrabel will do something or Willie or me. It was everyone of us today and that was nice to see. To have all of us make significant plays is something we will look back on this game and remember.”
 

    Bucs tailback Carnell “Cadillac” Williams entered the match with the NFL’s best rushing average (108.3 yards per game) in road games. Williams mustered a mere 17 yards on 10 carries in the first half while the Patriots were building a 21-0 lead.
 

    Williams finished the game with 23 rushing yards. The rookie runner’s ineptitude made it open season on the Bucs’ young quarterback and the Patriots linebackers came calling from all angles. The beleaguered Simms completed 21-of-34 passes for 155 yards, but he never had time to take a deep drop and hurl the ball down field.
 

    “I’m playing well, Willie’s playing well, Mike’s playing well and Tedy’s playing well and we are all trying to do our jobs,” Colvin said. “When you have a team on it’s heels you can change it up and do different things.
 

    “The guys made some plays, and I thought we played some good team defense. If you give any of us opportunities, I’m putting my money on any one of us coming out ahead on the situation 90 percent of the time.”
 

    The most damaging play inflicted by the linebackers on Simms came with 1:32 remaining in the second quarter and the Pats up, 14-0. Vrabel attacked Simms from the blind side, causing a sack and forcing a fumble. McGinest picked up the loose ball, and the offense went on to add another touchdown before the half.

BostonHerald.com - Patriots & NFL: Backers no slackers: Veteran unit sparks shutout

Defense pulls out all the stops

Unit is healthier, and getting stingy

FOXBOROUGH -- There's no other way to spin it. No qualifier -- such as, ''Yeah, but they dominated bad teams like the Bills and Jets" -- is necessary. The Patriots' championship-level defense is back. Just ask Chris Simms, the embattled Tampa Bay quarterback who was lucky to leave Gillette Stadium intact yesterday.

The Patriots' 28-0 shutout of the Buccaneers was a dominating defensive performance.

Bucs running back Carnell ''Cadillac" Williams ran like a stick shift Rambler -- uphill. There was nary an opening for him, as the gaps were clogged by Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork, and Ty Warren up front. That freed linebackers Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Rosevelt Colvin, and Mike Vrabel to make plays.

Eric Mangini's crew had a season-high seven sacks, six by the linebackers.

The Patriots held the Buccaneers to 30 yards rushing and a 1.7-yard average. They pressured Simms all day, allowing him only 155 yards passing. Tampa Bay had only 12 first downs. It was the eighth time in the last 10 games the New England defense shut out the opponent in the first quarter; in those 10 games, the D has allowed only 14 first-quarter points.

''We got a win and they put zero points on the board," Colvin said. ''Having Tedy back is a big reason. I think he and Vrabel are starting to feel real good out there."

With only the woeful Jets and the inconsistent Dolphins left to play, the Patriots appear headed to an 11-5 season. They would open the playoffs at Gillette Stadium the weekend of Jan. 7-8, with the likely opponent the Jacksonville Jaguars. A few weeks ago, such a game seemed impossible for New England. Now, it seems quite possible, especially with the Jaguars probably having to start backup quarterback David Garrard.

It is true that young Simms isn't Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning, or even Jake Plummer. But the defense the Patriots played yesterday would have given the league's elite QBs fits as well.

Even with another AFC East title under their belts, the Patriots again refused to compare their current play to anything that happened last season. Yet, the D is looking every bit as dominating, maybe even better.

''We're jelling right now," said Wilfork. ''We're trusting each other, trusting our coaching, trusting our judgment out on the field. We have a lot of faith in each other. We said all week, 'Let's stop the run.' Before, we were more like, 'Let's try and stop the run.' Now we're doing what we say we're going to do.

''That was one of the best running teams in the league and we knew we had our work cut out for us."

As the Patriots tried to get first-year defensive coordinator Mangini his first shutout, the crowd, which recently was called out by players for a lack of exuberance, made itself heard.

''Louder? Oh, yes," Wilfork said. ''No doubt. I knew they were gonna stand up and make themselves noticed. When you get six or seven sacks like that, that's the crowd motivating you. That's what they did for us today and that's what we're looking for from them."

Bruschi, who led the Patriots with 11 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 pass defensed, congratulated Mangini, who was criticized early in the season when the defense wasn't clicking so well. ''Eric has rolled with the punches," Bruschi said. ''We haven't made too many drastic changes to our schemes, but it's a big job replacing a guy like Romeo [Crennel], who is so highly respected."

Mangini was unavailable for comment.

Bruschi said the strong play is because of players getting healthy, playing their roles, and not trying to do too much. When someone brought up the word ''dominant" to Bruschi, he said, ''I think we're a team getting better. Let's leave the word 'dominant' out of it for now."

Bruschi said beating a winning team didn't excite him as much as the fact ''we kept points off the board."

Vrabel had the big play, on first and 10 at the Tampa Bay 44 with 1:32 remaining in the second quarter. He sacked Simms and stripped him of the ball, which was recovered by Willie McGinest. It led to the Patriots' third score and a three-touchdown lead.

Despite the performance, the defenders would not speak beyond next week's game vs. New York. They sported AFC East championship hats and T-shirts but didn't celebrate too much.

As Wilfork said, ''Last year is last year. We compare ourselves to the Super Bowl champs. We have to do it on our own. We have a lot of new people here." 

Defense pulls out all the stops - The Boston Globe

Pats overcome adversity, clinch AFC East

Associated Press
 

Tom Brady is terrific, the defense is dominating and everything - no matter how unusual - seems to be going the New England Patriots' way again. After all, it is December.

"This is when championships are won," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "You start jockeying for position with other teams. If you don't put your best foot forward, you can't win it."

The Patriots have overcome many key injuries, frustrating inconsistencies and blowout losses to be where they usually are in the last month of the season: streaking toward the playoffs but looking no further than their next game.

"You can't do anything about the future, the past, so we're just looking forward to next week," wide receiver Troy Brown said. "We're just trying to find a way to get better day by day, play by play."

The two-time defending NFL champions had their best game of the season Saturday when they clinched their third consecutive AFC East title with a 28-0 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had the NFC's best road record. That guaranteed the Patriots (9-5) a game in the first round of the postseason at Gillette Stadium, where they are 29-5, including playoffs.

They won with help from a scoring pass to a tackle looking into the sun and a roughing-the-punter penalty that led to another touchdown. Not even a penalty for an illegal forward pass by linebacker Willie McGinest while he was returning a fumble recovery could keep them from a touchdown.

The win improved the Patriots regular-season record after Dec. 1 to 3-0 this year and 18-3 starting with the 2001 season, when they won the first of their three championships. In the seasons in which they won those titles, they were 13-1 after Dec. 1, with only a one-point loss at Miami last year.

"We have to make progress the next few weeks," Brady said, "but it is a great feeling, realizing how many injuries we've had, to know that we are 9-5 and we have won the AFC East. And I think everyone is excited about that, but we still understand that we still have a long way to go."

The Patriots have outscored their last three opponents 79-10, the fewest points they've ever allowed in a three-game span, and that stinginess could continue in their next game against the weak New York Jets in a Monday night game. New England ends its regular season on New Year's Day at home against Miami.

With the division title secured and five wins in the last six games, coach Bill Belichick could give Brady, who has started 85 consecutive games, some rest. The quarterback threw for three touchdowns and 258 yards with no interceptions Saturday despite being questionable and missing some practice with a left shin injury.

"It is nothing that my teammates wouldn't do," Brady said, "and I don't want to seem like I am anything different than what they did, because I am certainly not. There are plenty of guys playing hurt every week."

The Patriots' last game in November was one of their worst of the season, a 26-16 loss at Kansas City in which they trailed 26-3 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. Then they beat the Jets and Buffalo, two struggling teams.

"It is good to beat a good football team like Tampa Bay, and the way we did it was impressive," defensive end Richard Seymour said.

They handed Tampa Bay its first shutout in 103 games, sacked Chris Simms seven times - twice each by Bruschi and McGinest - and held the Bucs to 138 total yards. Patriots wide receiver David Givens alone gained a career-high 137 yards on six catches.

The defense held its third straight opponent under 200 yards and has allowed a total of 85 yards rushing in those games.

The offense didn't turn over the ball and got two touchdowns and excellent blocking from running back Corey Dillon, who played his third game since missing two with a calf injury. Other significant players also have returned from injury.

"There is definitely more confidence," Brady said, "but at the same time, we are only 9-5. It's not like we're 13-0."

So the Patriots know they still need to get better even after winning their division.

"If you look at the expression on my face," Bruschi said, "I'm not too excited."

Pats overcome adversity, clinch AFC East

Patriots' Timing Is Perfect
Defense Pulls Together As Playoffs Approach

By ALAN GREENBERG
Courant Staff Writer

December 19 2005

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Last week, Tedy Bruschi was asked to reflect on his play since returning Oct. 30 against the Bills.

Bruschi, who had been answering questions about the upcoming Buccaneers game that required less thought and introspection, politely declined to discuss his ups and downs, saying he would prefer to stay focused on the next game.

Perhaps Bruschi's laser-like focus did the trick Saturday. Or perhaps it was just the inevitability of the calendar, the passing of time.

Bruschi, 32, who had a mild stroke in mid-February, underwent surgery in March to repair the defect that caused it and was cleared to return in mid-October, did not have training camp or exhibition games to prepare for a season he hadn't expected to play. He missed the first six games and was understandably inconsistent in the next seven.

Whatever the reasons, Bruschi had his best game of the season Saturday in the Patriots' 28-0 victory over the Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium. He led them with 11 tackles, knocked down a pass and had his first two sacks of the season. The Patriots had seven sacks, their most in a game since they had eight in Philadelphia on Sept. 14, 2003.

That was the day linebacker Rosevelt Colvin broke a hip, ending his season. Now, more than two years later, Colvin is playing his best since joining the Patriots before the 2003 season. And the Patriots, who have won three in a row for the first time this season, seem to be peaking with the postseason just three weeks away.

They clinched their fourth AFC East title in five years Saturday and will probably finish seeded fourth in the AFC, which would mean hosting a wild card opponent, probably the Jaguars (10-4), the weekend of Jan. 7-8. In their last three games, the Patriots have outscored their opponents 79-10, the fewest points surrendered in a three-game span by the Patriots in franchise history.

But that statistic loses luster when you look at who they beat. The injury-riddled, Brooks Bollinger-quarterbacked Jets 16-3 at Gillette? The callow and confounded J.P. Losman - a Los Angeles kid playing a game in the snow for the first time - and the disgruntled Bills 35-7 in Buffalo? Those sad sacks have a combined record of 7-21.

But Saturday's victory seemed more significant. Sure, the Buccaneers offense, led by untested Chris Simms, is hardly awe-inspiring. But the Bucs (9-5) have an excellent defense, and they are the first team with a winning record that the Patriots have beaten since they won in Atlanta 31-28 Oct. 9.

Saturday's shutout was the Patriots' first since beating the Bills 31-0 in their 2003 season finale.

"Having Tedy back is a big reason," Colvin said. "I think he and [Mike] Vrabel are starting to feel real good there."

Vrabel, whose blindside strip-sack of Simms late in the first half set up the touchdown that gave the Patriots a 21-0 lead, had played outside linebacker since the Patriots spirited him away from the Steelers in March 2001.

But given how veteran newcomers Chad Brown and Monty Beisel struggled in an unfamiliar system when the Patriots plugged them in at inside linebacker after Bruschi's stroke and Ted Johnson's training camp eve retirement, changes had to be made if the Patriots were going to revive their flagging season.

One came when Bruschi was activated. Brown, 35, who had started five of the first six games at inside linebacker, was inactive for that first Bills game even though he was healthy and leading the team in tackles.

Another change had been made two weeks earlier, when Vrabel, a former defensive end at Ohio State whose pass-rushing skills are best suited to playing on the edge, was moved to inside linebacker, a position he had never played.

"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't an adjustment," Vrabel said then, "but football is football."

And the versatile Vrabel, who catches TD passes in goal line situations in his spare time, seems to have made it.

After Saturday's shutout, there was talk of the Patriots' return to dominance, but they're not ready to say so.

"I think we're a team getting better," Bruschi said. "Let's leave the word `dominant' out of it for now."

Copyright 2005, Hartford Courant

courant.com: Patriots' Timing Is Perfect

12/19/05

Patriots rush defense not in a giving mood

The Patriots have made a lot of strides as a team over the last month but the area where they have improved the most is defending the run. In a six-game span, New England’s rush defense has gone from one of the NFL’s worst units, to one of the best. An impressive leap in such a short period of time. 

After the Colts bombed the Patriots at Gillette Stadium 40-21, New England ranked 27th in the NFL in rush defense – giving up 128.9 yards per game. Since that loss, the Patriots are 5-1 and now rank sixth in the league defending the run, only giving up 99.4 yards per game. In their last six games only one running back, Larry Johnson, has gone over 100 yards rushing against the Patriots and Johnson did it on 31 carries.

“We’ve played the run well pretty consistently here for the past couple of games,” Bill Belichick said. “We need to keep up the intensity though because we can fall down just as quickly as we bounced back up.”

In their last three wins over the Jets, Bills and Buccaneers, the Patriots have allowed their opposition a total of 85 yards on 46 carries. That comes out to an average of 1.8 yards per carry. After their loss to the Chiefs, the Patriots have been much more aggressive on defense and no one can argue with the results so far.

“We continue to take steps in the right direction,” Rosevelt Colvin said. “We have a lot more confidence right now and when you have more confidence, it’s easier to be more aggressive and get your job done. Guys have taken it upon themselves to improve individually so we could improve as a team.”

A big reason for the resurgence of the rush defense is the improvement of two players: Vince Wilfork and Tedy Bruschi.

Wilfork admitted last week that he wasn’t playing up to his potential earlier in the season and even he knew he wasn’t doing what the Patriots needed him to do for the team to be successful. Wilfork has apparently pinpointed the problem because in the last three games, he has been a man possessed. Against Tampa Bay this past Saturday, the nose tackle continually stuffed the run and blew up plays in the offensive backfield.

“Vince has been working hard all year,” Belichick said. “Now he’s just playing some of the blocking schemes, technique-wise, he’s playing a little bit better than he was earlier in the year…He has strung together several consistent performances and is a hard guy to block in there.”

Bruschi returned from his stroke on Oct. 30 against the Bills but it took him a few games to get back into the swing of things. In his first couple of games in the starting lineup, Bruschi was understandably out of position a lot and seemed to wear down in the fourth quarter. The last five weeks, however, have been a different story. In those games, Bruschi has recorded 39 tackles, two sacks and has forced a fumble. Also, just having the defensive leader back on the field has the Patriots defense playing with more passion and fire recently.

“Tedy brings it every game,” Colvin said. “Just having him on the field is a lift to our defense and now he’s starting to make the plays he’s been known for in the past. He’s making more and more plays every week.”

In order to win a championship, a team needs to stop the run. That’s been proven throughout the history of the NFL. Teams that get into the playoffs and can’t stop the run go home early. The Patriots defense hasn’t only improved in recent weeks, they’ve been dominating in shutting down their opponent’s rushing attacks. That’s a positive sign for this team heading into the playoffs.

Colvin believes if the Patriots defense continues to get better over the next couple of weeks, they could be in position to make some noise in the postseason.

“If we continue to improve, hopefully we’ll get where we need to be and end up where we want to end up at the end of the year.”

Official Website of the New England Patriots

 

Classic Tedy in middle of revival
By Karen Guregian

Boston Herald General Sports Reporter and Columnist

Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - Updated: 06:39 AM EST


FOXBORO — The Tedy Bruschi of old. Not many people thought it was possible to see that version of No. 54 this year, given his late arrival to the scene and the unusual circumstances surrounding it.

But that was the football player who was on display Saturday afternoon against Tampa Bay. There was no need to check if you were watching an ESPN Classic. That was vintage Bruschi stomping all over the Bucs.

While people are giddy over the Pats being back, so to speak, so is their heart and soul.

The story of Bruschi’s miracle comeback from a mild stroke in February just keeps getting more fascinating and more inspiring with every defensive play from scrimmage. And to think, this is what Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock observed and wrote about the linebacker after Week 11: “Bruschi just isn’t the same sure tackler he was before his stroke. On Sunday, he whiffed on at least four tackles. He’d perfectly diagnose a play, race into position to make the stop, and flat whiff. Belichick should put Bruschi on the bench and switch to a 4-3.”

Bench Bruschi?

If Whitlock saw him play Saturday, he might have been inclined to pen something totally different. For those who understand Bruschi’s situation, figuring him to instantly step back into being the player he was, assuming he would automatically resume being a Pro Bowl-caliber player was ludicrous, not to mention completely unfair.

Like the Patriots as a whole, Bruschi has been a work in progress, improving week to week with time and repetition. In some ways, he has paralleled the team’s journey back into the world of the elite.

Had his level of play remained in the category of decent throughout the remainder of the season, let’s just say no one in New England would have complained.

But Bruschi is the gift that keeps giving. Remember, he wasn’t expected to play at all this season, and Saturday, eight weeks after his return, he was a playmaking force against the Bucs, leading the team with 11 tackles, two sacks, a pass defended and a forced fumble.

It was the closest we’ve seen to Bruschi pre-stroke, for an entire game, and it wasn’t just about the numbers. It was in his eyes and his every move on the field. He not only was reading plays, but he was the surest of tacklers, seemingly in the middle of every Bucs’ offensive play.

Once again, given he had no formal training camp, given he could barely walk and couldn’t see out of one eye in February, given the emotional and physical struggles he had to overcome along the way, it truly boggles the mind he is back to being so good, so impactful, so soon.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” teammate and fellow linebacker Rosevelt Colvin said yesterday. “The dude’s a special player. He has instincts like you would want from a player in his position. He’s everything you’d want as a player and a teammate.”

Given what he knows of Bruschi, coach Bill Belichick wasn’t surprised the linebacker had returned to form so soon.

“I think he’s made incremental, steady improvement every week, going all the way back to February or March,” Belichick said. “I think if you go back far enough, he had a long way to go. He consistently worked hard and made progress, and there was no reason to think it was going to stop. It was just a question of the time frame.”

Welcome back, Tedy.
 

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Classic Tedy in middle of revival

 

Notebook: Bruschi's improvement no surprise to teammates

01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, December 20, 2005
BY JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writer



FOXBORO -- The first time Rosevelt Colvin saw Tedy Bruschi , he knew there was something special about him.

It is no coincidence the New England Patriots' season began to turn around when Bruschi, who missed the first six games of the season after suffering a stroke last February, returned to the lineup. He is a leader on and off the field and having him around has been an important factor for the Pats.

Colvin, who was placed on injury reserve after playing only two games at the start of the 2003 season, knows how difficult it can be to return after a long hiatus. But he's not surprised by the success Bruschi has enjoyed this season.

"Tedy is very pleased and very fortunate not to have a lot of side effects from what happened," said Colvin. "The dude is a special player. He has instincts the way you want a player to have instincts. He goes out there and performs and leads. He is everything you want from a player and a teammate."

Bruschi had an outstanding game on Saturday against the Buccaneers, posting nine tackles and two sacks while forcing a fumble. He led the team's defense and his performance hasn't surprised anyone in the locker room.

"Not really," said coach Bill Belichick. "Tedy has made steady improvement every week, going all the way back to February. He has gotten better every single day and every week. He is certainly capable of making plays."

Early on, there was concern whether Bruschi was making the right decision returning to pro football after the stroke, but he has silenced the critics.

A promising record

With the Pats earning a playoff berth on Saturday, the team will host a first-round game. New England is 7-1 in postseason history at home and currently owns a seven-game winning streak on Route 1. The last time the Patriots lost a playoff game at home was a 31-14 loss to the Houston Oilers on Dec. 31, 1978. Since then, the Pats have posted victories.

Beneficial ownership

Former season-ticket holder Robert Kraft has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success since he bought the team 12 seasons ago. The Patriots have qualified for the playoffs eight times since the Kraft family has been at the helm. In fact, this year will be the 14th time the team has earned a postseason berth in its 46-year history.

 

Rhode Island news | projo.com | The Providence Journal | Patriots

 

12/19/2005
Patriots picking right time to peak
MICHAEL PARENTE , Call Sports Writer

FOXBORO -- The excitement in the Patriots’ locker room Saturday following their 28-0 win against the Buccaneers had little to do with the AFC East championship T-shirts and hats being passed around.
After another lopsided victory -- their third in a row -- it appears the two-time defending Super Bowl champions are peaking at the right time. The running game is getting back on track, the defense has jelled and everyone is on the same page as the Patriots prepare for the playoffs.


Even though it’s obvious they’re playing their best football of the season, they’re still trying to get better. As is their custom, they refuse to get too high emotionally now that they’ve won three consecutive games and five of their last six. They didn’t get too low after starting the season 3-3, either.

"I think we’re playing better than we were earlier in the season, obviously, because we’re winning games," linebacker Rosevelt Colvin said. "I think guys are trying to do what the coaches are asking them to do, and that gives the coaches confidence to call different things and put that player back out there.

"If you work hard, everything else will take care of itself. That was my motto when I wasn’t playing a lot. When I got an opportunity to play, I tried to play hard and I think that’s what every guy should do -- 11 guys across the board on offense, defense and special teams."

The Patriots are perfectionists, which should be expected since they’ve won three of the last four Super Bowls. They know what great football looks like and they know when they’ve truly reached their peak. Every now and then, they still have lapses, though Saturday’s shutout against Tampa Bay was as close to perfect as one team can play for 60 minutes.

"I think there has definitely been improvement in a lot of areas," quarterback Tom Brady said. "We’re still looking to improve. It’s like we have our stretches in every game where there are things that go really well and you build some momentum, and then we have a few stretches where we just kind of shoot ourselves in the foot.

"I think, offensively, we are still struggling to run the ball a little bit. We’re still leaving some plays out there in the passing game and it just comes to execution with myself and the receivers."

Offensively, the Patriots might get better, which is a scary thought considering they dropped 28 points on the league’s second-ranked defense Saturday. They’re still dealing with injuries on the offensive line -- their top two left tackles haven’t played in two weeks -- and running backs Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk have yet to shake off the rust after returning to the lineup earlier this month.

"The guys have been in and out all year, which makes it tough to develop a lot of consistency," Brady said. "I think the receivers are getting healthier. The backs are getting healthier. Obviously, it’s good getting Kevin back. We have to make progress the next few weeks, but it’s a great feeling, realizing how many injuries we've had, to know that we are 9-5 and we have won the AFC East. I think everyone is excited about that, but we still understand that we still have a long way to go."

The Patriots are particularly excited about the defense, which has finally developed continuity after losing six players to season-ending injuries. Newcomers Artrell Hawkins and Michael Stone have provided a boost and they’ve learned to work with the veterans who’ve been in the lineup from the start of the season. Communication -- or lack thereof -- is no longer a major issue.

"I’m getting to know Artrell. When Stone was in there, I was getting to know him," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "I think Eugene Wilson is doing a better job of knowing those guys also, and (cornerback) Ellis (Hobbs) is sort of getting an idea of how he’s going to play certain things. As time goes on and you deal more with the people, you get to realize their nuances."

Bruschi pointed out a play from the first half of Saturday’s game in which Hawkins made a stop on Tampa Bay running back Carnell Williams on a third-and-1 as an example of the Patriots’ improved continuity on defense.

"Me seeing that and seeing the collision he made gave me confidence that the next time he’s going to do the same thing," Bruschi said. "That’s the process of playing with a guy -- seeing him do things and the way he approaches things and knowing he’s going to stick his face in there and make a tackle against a good running back on a short-yardage play. That gives me tremendous confidence when the next play comes up."

The Patriots have two games left against the Jets and Dolphins, which will give them an opportunity to work some of their injured players back into the lineup and continue to develop consistency. Although the excitement is building with two weeks to go until the playoffs, they’re tempering their enthusiasm because they know they still have to work to do down the stretch.

"You play to qualify for the playoffs, and I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position," Colvin said. "What we have to do now is continue to get better, finish the season strong and hopefully we can put ourselves in a better position when we get our next opportunity, which is next week, to go out their and play at a high level."
 

The Call - Sports - 12/19/2005 - Patriots picking right time to peak

 

Balloting should be a runaway
By Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff | December 23, 2005


FOXBOROUGH -- When Bill Parcells needed to motivate injured players to get back on the field, he'd tell them, ''I came back from heart surgery quicker than you're coming back from a sore hamstring." If Tedy Bruschi were a coach, he could probably say something similar, but instead of heart surgery he could insert ''stroke."

Which is why when a ballot came in the mail for NFL awards, the Comeback Player Award took me two seconds to fill out. Who else but Bruschi?

This is the ultimate comeback. This wasn't a reconstructed knee, back surgery, or a broken arm. Bruschi was in a life-threatening situation, yet when all is said and done, all you'll see in his statistics regarding 2005 is six weeks on the physically-unable-to-perform list. His stroke won't be documented in the NFL Register.

The feat wasn't lost on Red Sox manager Terry Francona -- a friendship born from their roots at the University of Arizona -- and yesterday Bruschi spoke about how much he's appreciated Francona's uplifting correspondence during his trying time.

''He sent me one when I came back right before the Buffalo game and just told me how much he appreciated my perseverance and the obvious love I had for what I was doing," Bruschi said. ''It meant a lot to me. Terry is always so positive as so many thousands of Patriots fans have been through this process. When you're going through something like this, to have someone like Terry, who has his hands full managing the Red Sox, take the time to drop you a note, it means a lot to me."

Francona has been going through some trying times -- most recently the departure of center fielder Johnny Damon -- but when broached on the topic of Bruschi, Francona seemed awestruck.

''I just go back to Opening Day at Fenway and Tedy comes out and I just remember feeling goose bumps," Francona said. ''I don't know if it's a bond because we're Arizona guys or just that we've both had our share of physical problems that we've had to overcome. I just think it's one of the greatest stories I've ever heard in sports. I've e-mailed him just to say hello and tell him how I feel about what he's doing."

After missing the first six games of the season, does it look as if Bruschi has missed a beat? Does it look as though he's even a slightly different player from what he was?

When asked if he thinks he's as good as he was, Bruschi took a deep breath.

''That's a statement I don't want to say, you know?" Bruschi said. ''But I feel good. Physically, I don't feel any different than I used to feel. When Dr. Greer said in his statement that I'm completely back to normal, he wasn't lying. I think getting more reps in practice has helped, but I feel pretty good out there."

Bruschi's journey has been a game-to-game evaluation. He was AFC Defensive Player of the Week in his first game, but he was clearly rusty. Had the stroke slowed him? But as the weeks passed there doesn't appear to be a drop-off in his play.

''I believe in the whole offseason mini-camp, training camp concept," Bruschi said. ''That was a process I missed out on this year. So jumping in like I did was new for me. So I've had to adjust a little bit. I've had to rely more on my experience this year. But physically I feel good about playing football out there. I think emotionally I'm into it. And as the season goes on, my timing is much better week to week."

Bruschi has had to adapt to a new defensive coordinator in Eric Mangini. His old weakside linebacker position is being played by Mike Vrabel. So Bruschi has had to play the middle. The middle, a.k.a. The Mike, was Ted Johnson's position (he retired in the offseason), and involves more physical contact.

Attending positional and team meetings was very helpful, Bruschi said, in getting to know Mangini's style.

''There are adjustments in our defense now that weren't there last year," Bruschi said. ''Romeo [Crennel] and Eric are two different people. Eric's personality is much different. Just to be around a little more [is] what helps me in being able to take in those new meetings with Eric."

So he stepped in, no longer an inside tandem with Johnson, with a different defensive scheme and position. And little appears to have changed for Bruschi, or recently, the Patriots' defense, which has allowed 10 points the last three games.

''We've been doing all right the last few weeks, but we really don't hang anything on the past," Bruschi said of the front seven's play. ''We're really looking forward to another game to see if we can do the same things. We feel really comfortable about being around each other again. Everybody's sort of developed into feeling comfortable with Rosey [Colvin] being on the outside and Mike on the inside and I'm back. So over time we're just feeling like we're coming together. It has helped us produce a much better defensive effort than earlier in the season. But we look forward to doing it again this week."

Breaking things down further, Bruschi spoke about the difference between Vrabel and Johnson.

''Night and day," Bruschi said. ''Ted was a take-on-the-block type of guy. You see what Mike does. He makes plays in coverage, vs. the run. Mike is out there playing special teams also. Every facet of his game is polished. Ted was a main guy in there taking on guards and really establishing himself physically."

And Bruschi has experience with his role in the middle. ''The year we played in the Super Bowl in Houston, I played 'Mike' the entire year," he said. ''I'm comfortable still playing Mike. It's something I've had to change and something I had to deal with also. A little more of a beating. You're still an inside linebacker in the 3-4 over an uncovered guard. There are different blocking schemes you have to recognize."

Bruschi could have easily rode off into the sunset as a Patriots hero. He could have had a lifelong deal with the organization. He could have had the remaining three years of his contract guaranteed by ownership if he didn't return.

But he returned for the love of the game.

''To accomplish what he has . . . that guy is pretty special," Francona said. ''I hope he enjoys his endeavor because everyone has enjoyed watching him."

Comeback Player of the Year. Maybe the comeback player of all time.

Balloting should be a runaway - The Boston Globe

 

Bruschi expects Jets to be tough

BY MARK FARINELLA / SUN CHRONICLE STAFF

FOXBORO -- The Christmas tree is decked out in all its glory in one particular North Attleboro home, where the holiday season has a more special feel to it this year.

``I realize that it's been a tough year in the Bruschi household a little bit,'' Patriots' linebacker Tedy Bruschi said Thursday, ``but we made it through and my wife and I are excited to see our kids' faces lit up, and to teach them a little bit about Santa Claus.
``They're 5 and 3 (the Bruschis also have an infant son), and that's the years when you know that Christmas is all about the kids,'' he continued. ``And to see the looks on their faces, we're excited to see that.''

For obvious reasons, Bruschi is happier than ever to see those smiles. In the days immediately following the stroke he suffered in February, he didn't know what the future held for himself and his family. But now, more than 10 months after the attack and eight weeks since he returned to action for the Patriots, life seems a lot more normal for the 10th-year veteran from Arizona.
 

The Sun Chronicle Newspaper

 

Linebackers key defense
Sunday, December 25, 2005
By CHRIS KENNEDY
ckennedy@repub.com



FOXBORO - Way back during training camp, and even early in the season, this might have seemed an unlikely linebacker combination to help the New England Patriots unlock the secret to playing better defense.

Mike Vrabel had established himself as an outside linebacker who was one of the team's best pass rushers. Rosevelt Colvin, a full season removed from the fractured hip that sidelined him for 14 games in 2003, seemed destined for another season as a situational pass rusher. And Tedy Bruschi was not even on the field, but rather was a name on the physically unable to perform list, a player who already said he would sit out the entire season.

These days, Vrabel and Bruschi are the starting inside linebackers in the team's 3-4 defensive front. Colvin is playing pretty much every down at outside linebacker, and he is pressuring the passer on a consistent basis for the first time since joining the Patriots prior to the 2003 season. Willie McGinest is the other outside linebacker, but even he had to switch sides as part of the changes.

All four linebackers are making plays, combining for six of New England's seven sacks in last week's 28-0 win over Tampa Bay and helping to stuff the run for a third straight week. The win lifted the Patriots to 9-5 entering tomorrow night's game at the 3-11 New York Jets.

The transition, which relegated Monty Beisel and Chad Brown to special teams, began in Week 6. Vrabel moved inside with McGinest switching from right outside linebacker to left outside linebacker. Colvin took McGinest's old spot behind the team's best defensive lineman, Richard Seymour. Bruschi came back two weeks later.

"We feel really comfortable about being around each other," Bruschi said. "Everyone has sort of developed a comfort level with Rosey being on the outside, Mike being on the inside and me being back.

"I think us being more comfortable with each other, having more time together, has helped us produce better defensive numbers that last few weeks. Hopefully, we'll be doing it again (tomorrow night at the Jets)."

Bruschi is coming off his best game since returning, looking like the playmaker of old against the Buccaneers. He had 11 tackles, including nine solo. He also recorded two sacks, knocked down a pass and forced a fumble.

All this only 10 months after suffering a mild stroke that seemed like it might end his career prematurely.

"I think Tedy feels blessed, fortunate to not have a lot of physical side effects from what happened," Colvin said. "It doesn't surprise me (the way he played against Tampa) because I've seen him do that week-in, week-out the last three or so years. ...

"The dude's a special player. He has instincts like you want a player to have. He goes out there and performs, leads. He is everything you want to have in a teammate and a coach on the field.

Vrabel, meanwhile, has proved more than capable of filling in alongside Bruschi, although not in the exactly the same way as Ted Johnson. Bruschi actually plays "the Mike" - or the spot Johnson occupied last season and Bruschi himself occupied in 2003. Vrabel plays the weakside spot.

Both inside linebackers are always looking at uncovered guards, much stronger blockers than would be encountered on the outside, although Bruschi's spot probably involves a tad more physical play.

Vrabel is a far cry from Johnson, who was more of the old-fashioned run stuffer, but different definitely means better in some ways.

"Night and day, if I can say it like that," Bruschi said when asked the difference between the Johnson and Vrabel. "Ted was a take on the block type of guy. Mike make plays in coverage, Mike makes plays versus the run and Mike is out there playing special teams also. Mike is really a true football player because he has every facet of his game in his pouch.

"Ted was a main guy in there taking on guards and blocks, and really getting us established (physically)."

Like Bruschi and the rest of the linebackers, Vrabel does not seem to have too much trouble understanding and then handling his responsibilities. So the switch was made easy enough.

"Once Mike understands it, then that's it," New England coach Bill Belichick said. "The great thing about Mike is you feel like you're never repaving the road. Once you go over something and he understands it, then that's taken care of. ...

"There's still a lot of things that he can do better, but the amount of improvement has been significant. I know he feels a lot better and more confident in some of those assignments."

So now it is Bruschi, Vrabel, Colvin and McGinest. That is not exactly the mix that was expected, but it is one that has finally provided at least some hope that New England can slow down some of the league's better offenses.

"I think there was a lot of frustration not just on the defense, but the whole team," Colvin said of a 6-5 start. "We felt like we had the talent. ... To be going up and down, up and down, you keep doing that and you'll be 8-8 and not maybe where you wanted to be.

"You have to tip the cap to some of the guys who were willing to come in and work a little harder, help us get to where we are now."

 

MassLive.com

 

Bruschi counts blessings

By Glen Farley, ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER

FOXBORO — It's the most wonderful time of the year.

"It started with me on Thanksgiving," New England Patriots inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, "and now this being the holiday season …"

It is a time for Bruschi to stop and count his blessings.

"I realize that it's been a tough year in the Bruschi household a little bit, but we made it through and my wife and I are excited to see our kids' faces lit up, and to teach them a little bit about Santa Claus because they're 5 and 3, and that's the years when you know that Christmas is all about the kids," said Bruschi. "And to see the looks on their faces, we're excited to see that."

Bruschi couldn't wait for Christmas Eve.

Last Saturday, he looked like a kid as he "lit up" the Tampa Bay offense.

Playing his best game since he returned from the offseason stroke that threatened his career, following the coaches' review of the game film, Bruschi was credited with 15 tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and one pass defensed in the 28-0 shutout of the Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium that clinched the Patriots their third consecutive AFC East division title.

"It doesn't surprise me," said Patriots outside linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, who himself was forced to overcome a career-threatening injury — in his case, a severe hip injury suffered in the second game of the 2003 campaign — along the way. "The dude's a special player. He has instincts like you would want from a player in his position. He's everything you'd want as a player and a teammate."

An undersized overachiever, if there were a mold for a player faced with the daunting task of returning from a mild stroke, the former third-round draft pick fits it.

Still, a multitude of questions loomed as Bruschi, accompanied by his wife Heidi, left Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital on Feb. 18, two days after he'd been rushed there via ambulance and a matter of 12 days after he'd contributed seven tackles, a sack, an interception and one pass defensed to the Patriots' second straight Super Bowl victory and their third in four years, 24-21, over the Philadelphia Eagles at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville.

At that point, as Bruschi shuffled out of Mass. General, his 10th NFL season seemed as distant as Jacksonville itself.

"I think he's made incremental, steady improvement every week, going all the way back to February or March," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "I think if you go back far enough, he had a long way to go.

"He consistently worked hard and made progress, and there was no reason to think it was going to stop. It was just a question of the time frame."

In Bruschi's case, that time frame would include a stint on the physically unable to perform list prior to his activation on Oct. 29, the eve of his team's seventh game of the year. Registering 10 tackles in that game, a 21-16 win over the Buffalo Bills at Gillette, Bruschi was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

Eight games into his comeback, Bruschi heads into Monday night's game with the New York Jets at the Meadowlands with 70 tackles — a pace that, projected over an entire season, would give him 140, eclipsing his career-high total of 138 tackles in 1999 — and ranks fifth on the team in that department behind only fellow inside linebacker Mike Vrabel (102), defensive linemen Vince Wilfork (87) and Ty Warren (72), and outside 'backer Colvin (71).

For Bruschi, this truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Back at linebacker, Bruschi has been most active on a team that has a shot at its third straight Super Bowl championship, good fortune that will further be driven home when he takes the field against a Jets team wallowing in misfortune.

"I can relate to (the plight of the 3-11 Jets)," said Bruschi. "I remember when we were 5-11 (in 2000) and we weren't doing well, and one thing I wanted to do when I knew we were out of the playoffs was play hard to the finish.

"I think this league has a lot of those type of attitudes."
 

Bruschi counts blessings

Patriots continue surge, but Bruschi injured against Jets

BY HANK GOLA
New York Daily News


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - It was the end of one era Monday night - and another sign that the era of the Patriots may not be closing.

It wasn't long ago that the Pats were thought of as a dead team playing - decimated by injury, devoid of their two storied coordinators and lucky to be in such a weak division.

Now look. As their favorite time of the year approaches, the Pats' chances of winning a third straight Vince Lombardi Trophy don't look that slim any more. They appeared every bit the Super Bowl contender in the final "Monday Night Football" game on ABC, humbling the Jets, 31-21, on Monday night at Giants Stadium.

The only real negative was a first-quarter leg injury to linebacker Tedy Bruschi, the emotional leader of the defense, who had to be assisted off the field and carted out of the stadium, but walked out of the locker room on his own after the game.

Bill Belichick was typically vague on Bruschi's status, as well as that of cornerback Asante Samuel, who appeared to take a knee to the helmet in the first quarter and did not return.

"We'll give it to you when we have it," the coach said of Bruschi. "His leg tightened up on him."

The injuries - Bruschi's occurred while blocking for the punt team - raised questions about whether Belichick will rest any starters in the season finale against the Dolphins on Sunday, a game that still has playoff implications.

By dispatching the Jets, the Patriots gave themselves a chance to steal the AFC's third seed, a potential gift from the Bengals, who lost at home to the Bills on Saturday. Should the Pats (10-5) beat the Dolphins at home Sunday and the Bengals lose to the Chiefs in Kansas City, New England would jump ahead to a first-round date with the AFC's second wild-card team and avoid the top-seeded Colts until the AFC Championship Game.

Even without Bruschi, the Patriots handled the Jets with ease.

While the offense was putting together three TD drives over seven minutes and throwing two TD passes to linebacker Mike Vrabel, the defense was holding the Jets without a first down in the first half and to 40 total rushing yards. The Pats, who were once ranked 27th against the run, have not allowed 125 yards rushing during the last four games.

"I don't even feel like I played a game," said Willie McGinest, referring to the way the offense was able to control the clock (43:21 to 16:39).

"I thought we could play better than we did at the beginning of the season. That didn't take much," Belichick said. "The players have been very diligent and have done a lot of extra things and I think that hard work has paid off with some better results and turned the situation around."
 

KRT Wire | 12/27/2005 | Patriots continue surge, but Bruschi injured against Jets

12/27/05

Analysis: Patriots handle Jets but lose Bruschi


Just when everything was coming together nicely in time for the playoffs, the New England Patriots lost yet another key defensive player to injury during Monday night's 31-21 victory over the New York Jets.

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi left the game after suffering an undisclosed leg injury during a Patriots' punt in the second quarter. Bruschi did not appear to be seriously injured, but he was helped from the field and then carted to the locker room and did not return. He had missed the season's first six games after suffering a mild stroke in the offseason. Since returning to the team on Oct. 30, Bruschi has played every game. The team offered no word on his condition.

Bruschi was one of three New England players felled by injury. Cornerback Asante Samuel left the game after suffering an apparent blow to the head while returning an interception, and kick returner Bethel Johnson was injured while being gang-tackled on a kickoff return.

The injury to Bruschi was the biggest news of the night, but the Patriots also kept their hopes alive for grabbing the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs. If they beat the Miami Dolphins on Sunday and the Cincinnati Bengals lose to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots will be seeded third and probably would not draw the top-seeded Indianapolis Colts until the conference championship game.

New England's Mike Vrabel also made an obscure piece of NFL history by becoming the first NFL player to record two touchdowns and a sack in one game. The linebacker/tight end scored New England's first two touchdowns on passes from QB Tom Brady and sacked Jets QB Brooks Bollinger for a 10-yard loss in the second quarter.

The 31-21 score was deceptive because the Patriots dominated the Jets almost as thoroughly as they handled their last three opponents while winning those games by a combined 79-10. The Jets mustered only 171 yards of total offense, including only 28 in the first half, when New England was opening a 21-7 lead. New York did not make a single first down before halftime and controlled the ball for only 6:26 (compared to 23:34 for New England.)

"I thought we got a pretty solid effort out of our team tonight," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "We ran the ball with a little bit of consistency, had a couple long drives, particularly in those quarters we were going against the wind. Defensively, I thought we had a pretty solid effort there in the first half. Overall, it’s a good, solid win."

The Jets accomplished very little on offense before racking up two touchdown drives after the Patriots had taken a 28-7 lead late in the third quarter. Their first score came in first quarter when former Patriots' CB Ty Law anticipated Brady beautifully and intercepted his short pass to WR David Givens on the right sideline and ran it back 74 yards for a touchdown that tied the game at 7-7.

New York was virtually unable to move the ball for much of the game. Their first five offensive possessions yielded a total of 33 yards on 14 plays with no first downs. Four of those possessions ended in punts, the fifth in Samuel's interception.

The Jets total of 40 rushing yards was the most the Patriots have allowed in four games. In that stretch, New England has given up a total of just 125 yards rushing. Derrick Blaylock led the Jets with 20 yards on three carries. Cedric Houston had 14 yards on five carries.

While the New England defense was choking the Jets, the offense was having its way too, grinding down the Jets with three first-half touchdown drives that covered a combined 198 yards in 38 plays and took 19:07 off the clock.

Marching into a 20-mph wind in the first quarter, the Patriots favored the run, with RB Corey Dillon getting most of the carries. Dillon logged 54 first-half yards enroute to a 77-yard night with two touchdowns on a season-high 26 carries. The Patriots first four plays of the game were Dillon runs, and he rushed six times on the first drive for 26 yards. Dillon's longest run was only 10 yards, but he looked strong throughout the game.

The Patriots totaled 151 yards of rushing, with RBs Kevin Faulk (10 carries for 38 yards), Heath Evans (6 for 16) and Patrick Pass (3 for 14) all getting in on the action.

Brady also had another good night, completing 18 of 29 passes for 185 yards. He sat out most of the fourth quarter, with Doug Flutie filling in and completing his only pass. The Patriots totaled 321 yards of total offense.

WR Deion Branch led all Patriots receivers with four catches for 69 yards including a beautiful catch on a low ball from Brady for a 22-yard completion early in the third quarter.

Tight end Benjamin Watson caught two balls for 37 yards, including a nice 14-yard gainer on a screen play along the left sideline in the second quarter. Watson, who sat out last week's game with a head injury, also got open for what would have been another long gainer, but Brady underthrew him.

One area where the Patriots struggled was kick coverage, allowing a 39-yard return by Justin Miller and a 27-yarder by Jerome Cotchery.

The Patriots wrap up the regular season on New Year's Day in Foxboro against the Miami Dolphins, who have won five in a row to raise their record to 8-7. The Patriots beat the Dolphins, 23-16, in their first meeting Nov. 13 in Miami, as Evans ran for 84 yards and Brady passed for 275. The Dolphins beat the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, 24-10, as RB Ricky Williams ran for 172 yards. Miami's win streak includes road victories against the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers.

Notes: The Patriots committed no penalties in the first half and only four for the game, for 30 yards. DE Richard Seymour was penalized for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Bollinger on the Jets' first play from scrimmage in the second half. … When Jets QB Vinny Testaverde threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Laveranues Coles in the fourth quarter, he became the first NFL quarterback to throw a touchdown pass in 19 consecutive seasons. … Both of the Jets touchdown passes went to receivers covered by Patriots' safety Artrell Hawkins. … Patriots CB Ellis Hobbs stopped a second-quarter Jets drive when he dropped WR Justin McCareins for a two-yard loss on a passing play on 3rd-and-1. … Patriots safety James Sanders recovered a fumble by New York's David Barrett after New England's third touchdown in the second quarter. His recovery gave the Patriots the ball at the Jets' 35 with 0:33 remaining before halftime, but the Patriots failed to score. … Bruschi and Samuel were replaced by Monty Beisel and Hank Poteat, respectively.

Official Website of the New England Patriots

 

Bruschi hurts leg, leaving status up in air
By Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff | December 27, 2005


The last thing the Patriots needed was to lose a significant player in a somewhat insignificant game.

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi was hurt on punt coverage on the next-to-last play of the first quarter when Mike Vrabel inadvertently barreled into him. It appeared Bruschi injured an ankle or his lower left leg, but the Patriots did not provide any details.

After the game, Bruschi sat at his locker getting dressed, and said, ''I've got nothing for you guys. Sorry guys." He then got up and walked out of the locker room to the bus.

''We'll give [information] to you when we have it," said coach Bill Belichick following the 31-21 win over the Jets. ''His leg tightened up a little."

While that doesn't sound too ominous, it still is up in the air what Bruschi's availability will be for the regular-season finale and the first-round playoff game at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots play many of their staters on special teams, and defensive lineman Richard Seymour sustained a knee injury earlier in the season playing fullback in a short-yardage situation.

''I have no idea [what happened]," said Vrabel. ''He said he got hurt on a punt. He was behind me, so I haven't seen it [on film] and I'm sure he'll be OK. Any time you see a guy down like that you have a little bit of concern. He's one of your teammates."

Bruschi knows there always will be a hush when he gets hurt, after he missed the first six games of the season recovering from a minor stroke last February. Bruschi got up immediately last night after being hurt and tried to put weight on the leg, but he then thought better of it. He accepted help to get off the field, sat on the end of the bench, and waited for a cart to take him into the locker room.

Patriots physician Bert Zarins was at the scene. It was not known whether Bruschi had X-rays.

Bruschi was replaced by Monty Beisel.

''I just prepared myself as if I was starting the game," Beisel said. ''When an opportunity arises, I need to be ready to go. Tonight was a night when I had to step up and play a little bit, so I just went out there. The defense played very well. The offense controlled the ball and the defense kept them in long-down situations and played really well."

Beisel may have a larger role if Bruschi misses some time.

''[Tedy] means a lot to the team," said Beisel. ''I have no idea on the extent of his injury. I'm not even sure what happened. I saw he was down, and hopefully we'll have him back as soon as possible."

The Patriots also lost cornerback Asante Samuel. Though the team announced Samuel had the wind knocked out of him, he appeared to take a blow to the head. Losing two starters and kick returner Bethel Johnson, who said he was OK after the game after being dinged up, wasn't exactly what the Patriots had in mind after already having clinched the AFC East and the first-round playoff game at home.

The Patriots, who had been devastated by injuries earlier in the year, had reduced their injury report to one, quarterback Tom Brady, who was listed as ''probable" with a shoulder ailment. Earlier in the week, the Patriots placed offensive lineman Matt Light on the injured reserve list, the ninth player to have his season end prematurely.

The Patriots likely won't reveal the status of Bruschi or anyone else until the injury report comes out tomorrow.

Bruschi hurts leg, leaving status up in air - The Boston Globe

Win costs momentum: If Bruschi’s hurtin’, so is Patriots’ run
By Karen Guregian
Boston Herald General Sports Reporter and Columnist

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 - Updated: 02:28 AM EST


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There were plenty of times this season when it was easy to think the Patriots would never get their swagger back, or play with that special conviction that they could beat anybody.

But we’ve seen it. That feeling was there, oozing from every play and every player, particularly during the rout of Tampa Bay on Dec. 17.

Now the worrisome question is: Can it be maintained without Tedy Bruschi, who injured his left leg on a punt on the penultimate play of the first quarter of last night’s 31-21 win over the Jets, and whose status is in doubt?

Can the Patriots keep their swagger without their heart and soul, who wound up needing a cart to take him off the field?

As it was, the team’s confidence level was shaky at best through the first 11 weeks of the season, when it was working its way through devastating injuries, and getting hammered every other week.

With players moving to new positions, rookies taking over starting roles and newcomers filling in for key injured veterans, it was tough to walk the walk. But with time, with players returning from injury, with the communication improving on defense and with wins being strung together, players have started to believe in themselves and the system.

“I don’t think we ever lacked confidence or maybe lacked intensity or emotion or whatever that word is. I just think we’re at a higher level now,” coach Bill Belichick said before the game. “I think that has come from having a little bit more success and from being more confident, really. Confidence is . . . in the end, what drives your aggressiveness, your emotion, your spirit, your communication, your everything.”

Bruschi, who appeared to suffer the injury when teammate Mike Vrabel inadvertently stepped on his leg during punt return coverage, has been a driving force of the Pats’ growing confidence.

He’s made a huge difference calling the plays and setting the defense. Against Tampa, he looked very much like the Bruschi we had marveled at pre-stroke.

He really hit his stride against the Bucs, as he led the team with 11 tackles, two sacks, a pass defended and a forced fumble.

“Tedy’s like the navigation in the car. We don’t want to go anywhere without the navigational system,” teammate Richard Seymour said. “That’s a good analogy of what he brings to this football team. Of course you can still drive the car, but you don’t want to.”

Bruschi already had three tackles in the first quarter before he had trouble getting off the field after Josh Miller’s punt. After being hit by Vrabel, he ran a few strides, then stopped cold. He could barely put weight on the leg as he was helped off the field. There was no cast or wrap put on his knee, leg or ankle. Bruschi gingerly limped over to the cart and was helped on. After the game, he politely declined speaking with reporters. He walked without crutches, as he carried a bag and a few packages out of the locker room. He did, however, have a limp.

Much like the saying about fame, confidence can be fleeting. So can momentum. Sure the Pats won last night, and continued their push to the playoffs, but what is momentum without the guy who miraculously returned from a stroke, and has been hugely responsible for righting the defense?

Will they lose their edge should Bruschi have suffered an injury that would keep him out of the playoffs? It’s one thing to make it by a team that’s going nowhere, as they did against the Jets. It’s another when the Indys and Denvers of the world come calling.

Talk about a momentum killer.

BostonHerald.com - Patriots & NFL: Win costs momentum: If Bruschi’s hurtin’, so is Patriots’ run

Calf-time for Bruschi -- Injury puts playoff status in doubt
By John Tomase
Wednesday, December 28, 2005 - Updated: 08:21 AM EST


Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi hurt his left calf Monday night, leaving his immediate postseason status in question.

Word among players on the sidelines was that Bruschi tore the muscle in a 31-21 victory over the Jets. He played through a similar injury to his right leg in Super Bowl XXXVIII, operating at less than peak effectiveness, but nonetheless taking the field.

Sources close to Bruschi did not characterize the setback as devastating but noted the nagging nature of calf injuries, which can really limit a player’s explosiveness.

Bruschi was hurt while covering a punt on the next to last play of the first quarter. Teammate Mike Vrabel appeared to step on his ankle while grappling with a blocker. Bruschi took two steps, hopped on his right leg, then fell to the turf.

He reached for his calf immediately, though he did not appear to be in pain. He needed help reaching the sidelines and was examined between quarters by the medical staff, who focused on his calf.

At the start of the second quarter he walked gingerly to a cart, which took him to the locker room. He did not return. ABC reported during the “Monday Night Football” telecast that X-rays were negative.

After the game, Bruschi dressed at his locker. His left leg did not appear to be braced or immobilized, and he walked without crutches. He limped to the team bus, carrying his suitcases.

Head coach Bill Belichick hinted at the nature of Bruschi’s injury after the game when he said, “His leg tightened up on him.” Bruschi underwent further tests yesterday.

“We’ll give it to you when we have it,” Belichick said. “I don’t know any more than that.”

Bruschi suffered a similar injury to his right leg in the final two minutes of the 2003 AFC Championship Game against the Colts. He was questionable leading up to Super Bowl XXXVIII, but played with reduced results — after recording a career high 133 tackles during the season, he was limited to just four (two solo) against Carolina.

The Patriots are clearly a different team with Bruschi out of the lineup. Monty Beisel replaced him in the middle Monday and recorded a tackle on his first play from scrimmage, followed by a pressure of Jets quarterback Brooks Bollinger on his second. But Beisel was also pushed back on many snaps, meeting ball carriers 4 yards downfield instead of at the line of scrimmage.

“I’ve been preparing as if I’ll be starting every week,” Beisel said. “When the opportunity arises, I have to be ready to go. Tedy means a lot to the team. I have no idea of the extent of his injury, but hopefully we’ll have him back soon and ready to go.”

Bruschi has already overcome far longer odds to reach the field. He suffered a stroke after last year’s Pro Bowl and announced that his 2005 season was over. But he returned on Oct. 30 against the Bills and had been playing his best ball in recent weeks. He recorded a season-high 11 tackles and his first two sacks of the season in a 28-0 shutout of Tampa Bay last week.

The Patriots host the Dolphins Sunday in the season finale and Bruschi will almost certainly be on the bench. The playoffs begin a week later at Foxboro, probably against either Jacksonville or Pittsburgh, and the Patriots hope they have their inspirational leader back in the starting lineup.

“Any time a guy goes down, especially a guy like Bruschi, obviously you’re very concerned,” defensive end Richard Seymour said. “I went in and checked on him at halftime. We need that guy out there on the field.”

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Calf-time for Bruschi -- Injury puts playoff status in doubt


Ponder these 10 Patriots’ thoughts

By ERIC McHUGH
The Patriot Ledger


In honor of the New England Patriots’ 10th win of the season Monday night, here are 10 observations from the 31-21 victory over the New York Jets:

1. It’s silly to talk about ‘‘fair’’ or ‘‘unfair’’ in sports. That said, it would be grossly unfair for linebacker Tedy Bruschi to be done in by a leg injury after battling back from an offseason stroke. Sort of like walking away from a plane crash only to step off a curb and break your ankle.

There was no official update yesterday on Bruschi’s condition, so the optimists had to draw comfort from two facts: one, that Bruschi walked out of Giants Stadium early yesterday morning, albeit with a slight limp; two, that coach Bill Belichick hinted at a muscle problem of some sort (and not a broken bone and/or ligament damage) when he said Bruschi’s leg had ‘‘tightened up on him.’’ Citing an unnamed source, CBS-4 reported last night that Bruschi had suffered a strained calf muscle. Bruschi hurt his right calf in the AFC championship game two years ago and made it back in two weeks for Super Bowl XXXVIII.

It goes without saying that the Bruschi/Mike Vrabel pairing inside has been a rousing success and one of the keys to the Patriots’ defensive resurgence in the second half of the season. The Patriots could ill afford to lose Bruschi now, although we said the same thing about defensive end Richard Seymour at this time last year and the Patriots beat the Colts and the Steelers without him in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

By the way, Bruschi becomes another inadvertent notch in the Jets’ belt. Patriots Drew Bledsoe (2001), Ted Washington and Mike Vrabel (2003) and Seymour (2004) all missed time after being hurt against New York.

2. Let’s not dredge up the tired ‘‘why do they play their starters on special teams?’’ debate again, OK? Yes, Bruschi was hurt covering a punt. If you don’t think that’s an important enough play for him to be out there on, I guess you wouldn’t mind if the Patriots’ first-round playoff opponent returned a couple of punts for touchdowns against them, huh? Yards gained and points scored on special teams count just as much as the ones on offense.

Ask yourself this: Where would the Patriots be if Troy Brown, their leading receiver back then, hadn’t been on both the punt-return and field goal-block units in the AFC championship game after the 2001 season?

3. Will the starters play against Miami in the regular-season finale? Well, it was funny to hear Belichick’s response to that question after the Jets game. Apparently, he cued up the wrong track on his preprogrammed list of answers because he said, ‘‘We’ll worry about next week next week. We’re just worried about the Jets.’’

Um, Bill? The Jets game was over when you answered the question. And the Dolphins game is this week, not next week.

Anyway, without a first-round playoff bye this year, our gut tells us that the starters will make brief appearance (a series? a quarter?) before we are treated to lots of Mike Wright, James Sanders, Heath Evans and Andre’ Davis. Two questions: Will we see rookie QB Matt Cassel? And will receiver Deion Branch be left out there long enough to get the 21 yards he needs to reach 1,000?

4. In Patriots-speak, ‘‘got the wind knocked out of him’’ is a euphemism for ‘‘suffered a concussion.’’ That’s apparently what happened to cornerback Asante Samuel in the first quarter Monday night. Samuel almost certainly will sit out the Dolphins game, but here’s hoping the cobwebs have cleared by wild-card weekend (Jan. 7-8).

Samuel struggled badly early in the season, but he’s come on of late. His interception against the Jets was his second in three games. Maybe rookie Ellis Hobbs is rubbing off on him. By the way, did you catch Hobbs pouncing on Jets receiver Justin McCareins for a 2-yard loss on a third-and-1 quick hitter in the second quarter? Hobbs isn’t perfect, but he’s fast becoming our favorite player to watch.

5. The Patriots posted some ridiculous stats against the Jets. They held the ball for 43:21 for their most dominating time of possession (in a non-overtime game) under Belichick. They also ran a season-high 83 offensive plays, including 31 in a row during a 14-minute span that bridged the second and third quarters. The Pats had a 13-play TD drive, ran three more plays after the Jets muffed the ensuing kickoff, and then opened the second half with a 15-play TD drive. Corey Dillon capped both of the scoring marches with TD runs.

The Pats also recorded the game’s first 22 first downs. The Jets didn’t pick up their initial first down until a questionable unnecessary roughness penalty on DE Richard Seymour with 5:17 left in the third quarter.

6. Speaking of which ... Some of the roughing-the-passer calls we’ve seen lately have bordered on the absurd. Rosevelt Colvin (in Buffalo) and Seymour (last week against Tampa Bay) also were flagged for what seemed to be routine collisions with quarterbacks.

Here’s what Belichick had to say on the topic two weeks ago: ‘‘The hardest thing for me is when we are called for an infraction and you can’t tell a player what he did wrong. You can’t say to him, ‘Well, look, here’s what you should have done,’ or, ‘This is why they called the penalty.’ The guy is doing what you’ve told him to do and what he’s been coached to do, the way the rule, you feel, is interpreted or even the way that it’s actually stated there, and then you’re still penalized. That is hard.’’

7. Fast starts are back in fashion. For the second straight week the Patriots scored a touchdown on their opening possession. It’s the first time that’s happened since Weeks 14-15 last season against Cincinnati and Miami, respectively. While last week’s 12-play opening drive against the Bucs was an equal blend of run and pass (six each), the one against the Jets featured 10 runs (seven straight to start off) and just three passes.

8. Speaking of which ... Rushing attempts often can be just as good a barometer of success as rushing yards. That was the case Monday as the Patriots handed off a whopping 50 times. It was their most rushing attempts since they had 50 carries at Cleveland on Dec. 5 of last year. The Patriots cranked out 225 yards on the ground against the Browns that day. This time they managed only 151, for a modest average of 3.0 yards per attempt. Still, the Pats improved to 8-0 this year (and 29-2 since 2003) when they run 30 or more times in a game.

The Patriots picked up 10 first downs on the ground against the Jets. Their season high is 11, set against the Bills on Dec. 11.

9. Yes, that was Adam Vinatieri trotting out for a field goal attempt midway through the fourth quarter Monday night. Apparently, he remembered how to do it, even though he’s in the midst of his second straight December drought. Last year he didn’t try a field goal in any of the Patriots’ first three December games before finishing the month with a 3-of-4 effort against the Jets. Monday night’s kick - a 26-yarder - was his first attempt in three weeks.

He can thank the efficiency of the Patriots’ offense, which had scored 12 straight touchdowns - against the Bills, Bucs and Jets - before settling for three on a drive that featured an offensive penalty and two sacks.

10. Another week, another smothering effort by the run defense, which has risen from 27th in the league rankings after nine weeks to No. 4. After limiting the Jets to 40 yards on 10 carries, the Patriots have now allowed only 125 total yards on the ground over the last four games. That's less than they allowed in four of their first eight games.

Ponder these 10 Patriots’ thoughts

No full Monty: Pats exposed with Beisel instead of Bruschi
By Karen Guregian
Boston Herald General Sports Reporter and Columnist

Thursday, December 29, 2005 - Updated: 06:58 AM EST


FOXBORO — So Tedy Bruschi is “questionable” for Sunday’s regular-season finale with Miami because of a calf injury. Fine, let him sit. Preferably in street clothes with his feet up.

Bruschi’s absence from that game isn’t that big of a deal. It’s not what has people worried. It’s beyond that, during the playoffs where the possibility of not having No. 54 calling the plays, setting the defense, establishing the tone, communicating all the necessary changes and switches, and just being Tedy Bruschi out on the field that has Patriots fans pacing the floors.

At the moment, a Bruschi-less linebacking corps is the most troubling scenario the Patriots’ defense faces down the road.

With all due respect to Monty Beisel, he can’t do what Tedy does.

He doesn’t have that special sixth sense, where Bruschi’s always in the right place on the field, always making the proper read, and converting it into a big play.

While it took Bruschi a while to get back into the flow, returning during the seventh game of the season after suffering a stroke in February, his presence has been felt particularly during the Patriots’ four-game winning streak down the stretch.

Quite simply, Bruschi makes everyone around him better, and the resurgence of the defense is a testament to that.

Whether Bruschi has a tear, a partial tear, or nothing more than a bad bruise remains to be seen. Naturally, the Patriots aren’t saying. All coach Bill Belichick indicated yesterday was that the linebacker was “day-to-day” with the injury.

Any of the above problems, however, will impact Bruschi’s effectiveness, particularly his explosiveness to the ball, which is one of his greatest physical assets as a player.

Still, if he can move in a reasonable fashion, Bruschi is the choice to play over Beisel during the playoffs just for what he brings in terms of communicating and getting everyone on the same page.

Belichick didn’t exactly give Beisel an overwhelming thumbs up yesterday when assessing how the linebacker did after coming in late in the first quarter for Bruschi during Monday night’s 31-21 win.

“I thought Monty did some good things. There were some things he could have done better,” Belichick said. “He did a solid job.”

As for Beisel himself, he was certainly a popular guy with the media yesterday given the likelihood of his enhanced role in the coming weeks.

The former Chief admitted it had been tough adjusting to the new system and called his brief time here, which hasn’t all been positive, “a learning experience, a life experience. You grow up fast in a situation like that. It’s been an interesting year for me. Hopefully, as my career moves on, I’ll continue to learn from this year and things that have happened, not only as a team, but individually.”

When asked if he felt he had something to prove to New England, should he find himself in Bruschi’s inside linebacker spot for more than this week’s game with Miami, Beisel shook his head.

“In the NFL, you’re always trying to prove yourself,” he said. “I always like to say as soon as I’m not scared to lose my job, that’s when I shouldn’t be playing. It’s always a proving ground for me. On a daily basis in practice, I’m always trying to prove something to myself. The defense and the team as a whole is trying to prove something right now to the whole league.”

Sure, the Pats are masters at overcoming injuries to key players, and that’s part of what they’re trying to prove. It’s just hard imagining them being able to go very far in the playoffs adding Bruschi to the list.

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: No full Monty: Pats exposed with Beisel instead of Bruschi

12/29/2005
Bruschi likely out for Sunday’s finale
MICHAEL PARENTE , Call Sports Writer


FOXBORO -- Tedy Bruschi’s status is still in doubt as the New England Patriots prepare for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins.
Several reports have surfaced since the veteran linebacker injured his left leg Monday against the New York Jets. One report suggests he tore a calf muscle while another indicates he only strained the muscle.


Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn’t offer any details Wednesday, other than labeling Bruschi as "day-to-day." Bruschi is questionable on the team’s injury report and probably won’t play Sunday since the Patriots have already clinched a playoff berth.

Bruschi hurt himself during a punt return when he collided with Mike Vrabel. He needed help getting to the sideline and tried to walk off the injury before being carted off the field. Bruschi walked out of the visitors’ locker room with a noticeable limp and said he felt "all right" as he carried his bags to the team bus.

His injury is reportedly similar to the one he suffered during the 2004 AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. He was questionable for the Super Bowl that year, but wound up playing and finished with four tackles in a 32-29 win against Carolina.

Bruschi’s availability for the postseason, which begins in two weeks, depends on the severity of his injury. A muscle tear could sideline him for two or three weeks, whereas a strained muscle might allow him to return in time for the Patriots’ first-round game on Jan. 7 or 8.

Bruschi missed the first six games of the season after suffering a stroke in February. His return on Oct. 30 has helped revitalize the defense, which improved from 27th against the run to fourth overall in a span of eight weeks.

"He’s brought a lot of experience -- a lot of energy," Belichick said. "We’ve gone on and on about Bruschi at times for half-hour and 45-minute blocks. There’s plenty on the record about Bruschi and it’s all good. He brings a lot to the table out there and is important to the team."

Numbers game

Belichick confirmed Wednesday that tight end Daniel Graham could’ve played despite being inactive Monday night against the New York Jets, indicating he was a healthy scratch. The Patriots had only one player on last week’s injury report -- quarterback Tom Brady -- and everyone made the road trip for the first time this season.

"Everyone that was inactive could’ve played. It wasn’t because of any medical reason -- it was because of decisions our coaching staff made," Belichick said. "You can only activate so many guys, and that’s what we had to do."

Graham wasn’t on the injury report, though he did miss a pair of games earlier this month with a shoulder injury, so Belichick might’ve deactivated him for precautionary reasons. The Patriots had a surplus of healthy players Monday, including offensive lineman Nick Kaczur, tight end Ben Watson and fullback Heath Evans.

Graham has missed four games since Nov. 13 and has only started once during that same stretch. He started the first eight games of the season until he got hurt against the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 7. Graham is listed as probable on this week’s injury report.

Growing list

The Patriots suddenly have a full injury report again. In addition to Graham and Bruschi, there are 10 other players on the list this week. Quarterback Tom Brady was the only one on last week’s report.

Fullbacks Heath Evans (shoulder) and Patrick Pass (hamstring), running back Corey Dillon (calf), defensive end Jarvis Green (shoulder), safety Artrell Hawkins (thigh), wide receiver Bethel Johnson (knee), tackle Nick Kaczur (shoulder), Brady (right shoulder) and tight ends Daniel Graham (shoulder) and Christian Fauria (foot) are probable.

The Patriots held a closed practice Wednesday and didn’t list their absentees. Graham is the only player on that list who did not play against the Jets. Johnson and Samuel injured themselves during the game.

Opportunity knocks

Bruschi’s injury allowed linebacker Monty Beisel to get more playing time on defense during Monday’s game. Beisel played alongside Vrabel in the second half and finished with four tackles.

"Defensively, I thought we played a solid game, but it wasn’t perfect," Belichick said. "Monty did some good things, but there were also things he could’ve done better. He did a solid job out there."

Beisel started the first five games of the season before being replaced by Vrabel on Oct. 16 at Denver. Since then, he’s spent most of his time on special teams and has been relegated to a backup role on defense. The fifth-year veteran could make his first start in 10 weeks Sunday against the Dolphins if Bruschi is inactive.

"I’ve been working hard all season in practice," Beisel said. "I feel comfortable and I’ll be ready to go when they need me. It’s been a learning experience -- it’s been a life experience. You grow up really fast in a situation like this. It’s been an interesting year for me."

Turning point

The Dolphins have been one of the hottest teams in the league since a 22-0 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 20. They’ve won their last five, including a 24-23 come-from-behind win against Buffalo in which they rallied from a 23-3 first-half deficit. "The Cleveland game was one of those thunderbolts that we all get sometimes," Miami coach Nick Saban said. "I passed a little sheet around that week that talked about if you continue to do things the way that you’ve always done them, you’ll continue to get the same results guaranteed. I think players learned from that, grew from that and I’ve been really pleased with the way we’ve worked at trying to improve and competed in the games since that time." ..Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor gave Tom Brady a glowing endorsement for the NFL MVP award Wednesday. "If he doesn’t get some MVP votes, I don’t know what this league is doing," he said.

The Call - Sports - 12/29/2005 - Bruschi likely out for Sunday’s finale

Tedy breathes life into Pats practice: Returns to field from calf injury
By John Tomase
Saturday, December 31, 2005 - Updated: 02:19 AM EST


FOXBORO - That sound coming from Gillette Stadium yesterday wasn’t air escaping the practice bubble. It was a giant sigh of relief from Patriots fans.

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi returned to practice just four days after injuring his left calf in a 31-21 victory over the New York Jets.

Bruschi jogged and stretched outside with his teammates during the portion of practice open to the media. He wore a practice shell and windbreaker and stretched in his customary position in the middle of the field next to linebacker Mike Vrabel.

Approached in the locker room before practice, Bruschi politely declined comment. His left leg did not appear to be wrapped or braced, though it’s possible he wore a heel support in his left shoe, which would limit the need to flex the calf.

Bruschi was a welcome sight on the outdoor practice field, particularly considering his condition Monday. He was last seen being carted off the field in East Rutherford, N.J., and later walking with a pronounced limp.

Bruschi went down at the end of the first quarter while covering a punt, apparently inadvertently stepped on by Vrabel. He sat on the field for a few minutes, never appearing in great pain, but unable to walk on his left leg, either.

With the help of two trainers, Bruschi eventually hopped off the field. He was examined further before being carted to the locker room.

“Tedy’s one of those guys, I saw him twist his knee up last year behind his body and he played the next week,” receiver David Givens said after Monday’s game.

“After seeing something like that, you think, man this guy gets up from anything. And then (Monday) he didn’t and that’s shocking, but injuries are part of the game.”

Fortunately for the Patriots, the injury to Bruschi, who worked his way back from a February stroke to rejoin his teammates on the active roster for an Oct. 30 game against the Buffalo Bills, doesn’t look as serious as originally feared. He’s still listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Tedy breathes life into Pats practice: Returns to field from calf injury


 

Tedy tackles the unknown
By John Tomase
Monday, January 2, 2006 - Updated: 08:41 AM EST


FOXBORO — Tedy Bruschi may have been inactive for yesterday’s game against the Dolphins, but that didn’t stop him from having a busy day.

The injured middle linebacker watched as the Patriots lost, 28-26. He also received treatment on his strained left calf in the hope he’ll be ready to play Saturday when the Patriots host the Jaguars in the first round of the playoffs.

“I’ve just got to make sure I’m right before I do anything,” Bruschi said. “Because if I’m not able to play and do the things I can do, I don’t want to be out there hurting the team.”

Bruschi laughed when asked what he’d have done if the playoffs started yesterday.

“Shoot,” he said. “I know what you’re asking, but I don’t want to answer that.”

Neither would Bruschi commit to a full week of practice, even though he was present for the start of it Friday.

“I’ll be in here tomorrow again getting three, four, five treatments,” he said. “As many as I can. We’ll go from there.”

Nicknamed Gumby for his ability to contort horribly without injury, Bruschi was as surprised as anyone when he couldn’t get up last Monday night.

“It was one of those things where when it happened, we tested it on the sidelines and I realized I couldn’t go back in,” he said.

Bruschi strained his right calf in the 2003 AFC Championship against Indianapolis, then played in the Super Bowl. He gutted through that game with help from his football intellect and the studying he had done. He’ll pay similar attention to Jacksonville this week.

“The week preceding the game is just as important, if not more important, to prepare yourself mentally to make sure you know the ins and outs of the opposition,” Bruschi said. “It’s all about getting ready for Jacksonville. It’s a one-game season.”

As for whether Bruschi will partake in that one-game season, he fell back on the company line.

“This is about how I’m feeling each day,” he said. “Today was better than yesterday, and hopefully tomorrow will be better than today.”
 

BostonHerald.com - N.E. Patriots: Tedy tackles the unknown

 

The split formation
Bruschi cheers, then does rehab
By Jerome Solomon, Globe Staff | January 2, 2006


FOXBOROUGH -- Linebacker Tedy Bruschi may have cheered his teammates on at yesterday's game, but his focus was elsewhere.

Bruschi was so locked into treatment on his injured calf that well after the rest of the Patriots had left the locker room knowing what was next, he did not know the Jacksonville Jaguars were scheduled to come to Gillette Stadium for the first round of the playoffs.

''Who do we play?" Bruschi asked, after receiving his final treatment of the day. ''This wasn't just 'come to the game and watch' for me. It was another day to hopefully get better and get my treatment.

''I spent [some] time out there on the sideline, but every other minute of it, I was in the training room trying to get better."

Bruschi, who suffered a stroke last February and was on the physically unable to perform list for the first six games of the season, strained his left calf muscle last week against the Jets.

He said he is maxing out on treatments, perhaps as many as five a day, working with head trainer Jim Whalen, and assistant trainer and director of rehab Joe Van Allen.

''I'm doing my best to get back, getting treatment as many times as I can," Bruschi said. ''I'm doing it each day, really."

He laughed heartily when asked if yesterday's game, a 28-26 loss to Miami, were a playoff contest, would he have been able to play.

''I don't want to answer that," he said. ''The playoffs are a different thing, but I've got to make sure I'm right before anything. Because if I'm not able to play, if I'm not able to do the things I can do, I don't want to hurt the team out there.

''So my main focus is getting my treatments."

The split formation - The Boston Globe

 

 

 

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