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 2007 Articles

Click here for entire Bruschi Article Archive

Aging well, Bruschi finds a silver lining
By Daniel Malloy, Globe Correspondent | July 30, 2007


FOXBOROUGH -- When two of Tedy Bruschi's former teammates and contemporaries, Drew Bledsoe and Curtis Martin, announced their retirements this past offseason, it was bad enough.

But a worse reminder that Bruschi is getting older has appeared, much to his chagrin: gray hairs.

"Come on, man," Bruschi said yesterday, starting to laugh when asked about the strands of white that have disrupted his full head of black hair.

Entering his 12th NFL season, all with New England, Bruschi has aged well, hair notwithstanding.

Last year the linebacker led the team with 124 tackles despite missing the season opener after breaking a bone near his right wrist in training camp and undergoing surgery. He has topped 120 tackles in three of the last four seasons, with seven interceptions and nine sacks in that span.

With his wrist still wrapped tight, Bruschi, 34, said he didn't consider retiring in the offseason.

"Every year you just reevaluate; you see how your body feels and then you start thinking about the next year, " he said.

"Right away I started thinking about the offseason program, how much time we had off, because I really feel like we could do something special here.

"You can't play this game forever, I know that. But I'm having a lot of fun."

It helps that he's playing next to a few senior citizens, by NFL standards. Fellow linebackers Junior Seau (38 years old, 18th season), Chad Brown (37, 15th season), Larry Izzo (32, 12th season), and Mike Vrabel (31, 11th season) all were alive during the Ford Administration.

"Everybody's up there," Bruschi said. "We've got a veteran crew, a true veteran crew at linebacker."

Yet free agent signee Adalius Thomas, practically a pup in his eighth season, could be the most important member of that crew. His size (6 feet 2 inches, 270 pounds) and speed make him an immediate impact player.

"If you just look at Adalius, he's a big, strong guy and he can do a lot of things," Bruschi said. "That's the first thing you have to talk about, the many things that he can do."

One of those things yesterday morning was playing at Bruschi's old position -- the strong side inside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 defense. Thomas was making calls and leading the defense during 11-on-11 drills, while Bruschi, last year's defensive captain, lined up next to him.

Thomas, Bruschi, and Vrabel are capable of manning both inside positions, giving coach Bill Belichick a lot of options.

"The person who's going to have the most fun with it is Bill, because he'll find ways to use guys in different spots," Bruschi said.

"I'm looking forward to Wednesdays during the season and looking at a game plan and seeing what he'll plan, because a lot of guys do have flexibility."

Thomas, along with the Patriots' other offseason acquisitions, was in town for organized team activities and minicamp, and already has jelled off the field with his new teammates.

"You sign a free agent and the first thing you want to do is get to know a guy on a personal level," Bruschi said.

"A lot of teams, it doesn't happen until training camp because they just get there. All our free agents -- Wes [Welker], Adalius, Randy [Moss] -- they were here in the offseason.

"You get to know them. You learn what to expect from them, maybe in the weight room and off the field, and all of a sudden it's a little bit easier on the field because you know them."

Bruschi, feeling healthy and excited about the team's prospects, looked at ease yesterday.

Walking across the practice field toward the stands before a kickoff drill, Bruschi and Thomas drew a standing ovation from the record 7,975 fans who sweated through the morning practice. Always a crowd favorite, Bruschi was the last Patriot off the field, signing autograph after autograph before speaking with reporters.

Twelve years, three Super Bowl rings, and a Pro Bowl appearance into his career, Bruschi has kept the same humble attitude. All that's new is a few gray hairs.

"I need to get better, I know this," Bruschi said. "That's all I'm focusing on. I'm out here in training camp, practicing to get better."

http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2007/07/30/aging_well_bruschi_finds_a_silver_lining

Bruschi ready to play again
LB entering his 12th season,
PATRIOTS NOTES
By Jennifer Toland TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
jtoland@telegram.com


FOXBORO – Tedy Bruschi hinted at possible retirement after the Patriots’ loss to the Colts in last year’s AFC Championship game, but he’s back and looking forward to good things in 2007.

“After every year you re-evaluate,” Bruschi said after yesterday’s practice. “You see how your body feels and then you start thinking about the next year. I really feel like we can do special things here.”

The 34-year-old Bruschi enters his 12th NFL season, though he is hardly the senior member of the linebacker crew. Junior Seau (38) and Chad Brown (37) both have him beat in the age category.


Bruschi’s last two seasons have been marred by a stroke, a calf injury and a broken right wrist, which he continues to keep wrapped.

He wasn’t the big-time playmaker last year like he once was, though he did top the team in tackles with 124.

“I need to get better, I know this,” Bruschi said. “You talk about what other people are saying (that he’s not the player he once was), but I can’t focus on that. I’ve got to focus on what I gotta do out there and that’s all I can focus on.”

The Patriots have 13 linebackers in camp, including free-agent acquisition Adalius Thomas, who brings talent and versatility to a group that also features veterans Mike Vrabel and Rosevelt Colvin.

Bruschi likes the group’s makeup.

“I think the person that’s going to have the most fun with it is (Patriots coach) Bill (Belichick),” Bruschi said. “He’ll find ways to use guys in different spots, he’ll tweak something. I’m looking forward to Wednesdays during the season and seeing what he’ll game plan because a lot of guys have flexibility.”

Two of Bruschi’s former teammates and contemporaries, Curtis Martin and Drew Bledsoe, did retire this offseason.

Martin, who was drafted by the Patriots in 1995, the year before Bruschi, called it a career last week, while Bledsoe announced his retirement in April.

“Seeing that … you can’t play this game forever,” Bruschi said. “I know that, but I’m having a lot of fun still and, like I said, I think we can do some special things.”

Bruschi had nothing to say about the rumors that he had died that swept through the area last week.

“I don’t want to address that,” Bruschi said. “I think you understand why.”

Worcester Telegram & Gazette News

FARINELLA: Bruschi death rumor spins out of control
Thursday, July 26, 2007 12:34 AM EDT

 

One would like to think that Tedy Bruschi has been through enough.

The 12th-year veteran linebacker, often regarded as the heart and soul of the New England Patriots' defense, suffered a stroke only a few days after he played in the Pro Bowl back in February 2005. As if his road back to the playing field wasn't arduous enough, as a public figure, he also had to endure the indignity of fending off an occasionally overzealous media corps in its pursuit of any tidbit of news about his condition.

It was a very difficult time for Bruschi, his wife Heidi, and their three children. One would think that 2½ years after the fact, and with Bruschi having been the Patriots' leading tackler last year, those terrible memories could be compartmentalized and filed away as a time in their lives that need not be revisited.

Somewhere out there in the vast anonymity of the Internet, however, an individual found it necessary to dredge up those fears and use them to prey upon gullible individuals in the regional sports media.

Sometime Monday night, according to Patriots' Media Relations Director Stacey James, an unnamed reporter for a Boston media outlet received an e-mail from an individual claiming to have knowledge that Bruschi had collapsed and died. As James put it, the reporter contacted another reporter, who called another reporter, who called yet another reporter, who then started calling Bruschi's teammates to find out whatever they knew about the linebacker's condition.

James wouldn't reveal the identities of the reporters, only to say that they were from both print and broadcast outlets.

Needless to say, the phone started ringing off the hook at Bruschi's North Attleboro residence. Panicky teammates, fearing the worst because of the shocking and unanticipated suddenness of Bruschi's initial illness, interrupted what had been a leisurely evening of television viewing by Tedy and his family - one of the few remaining evenings of football-free relaxation for him before the start of training camp on Friday.

James said that by the time he reached Bruschi at home, the veteran linebacker had already had his fill of the rumor.

"The first thing he said was, 'What's this all about?'" James said.

James said the rumor seemed to run out of steam by late Monday night. Teammates had been assured that Bruschi was absolutely fine, and James had managed to persuade media outlets to report nothing about the falsehood, fearing that even the slightest effort to dispel the hoax would lend unwarranted credence to its perpetrator. He hoped it would be a dead issue by Tuesday.

No such luck, however.

By Tuesday afternoon, the rumor of Bruschi's demise was again making the rounds of the area - even though Bruschi had been present as always at his morning workout session at Gillette Stadium. An employee of The Sun Chronicle, getting his hair cut at a Sharon establishment late in the afternoon, heard the rumor and dutifully called the news desk to report it. Moments later, I was on the phone with James seeking the truth.

Again, as he had with other media outlets, James asked that we consider not printing anything about the hoax - not because the Patriots are characteristically stingy with the news they want released to the public, but because he didn't believe it was right to give any satisfaction at all to the sick individual who sent the New England media off on a very disturbing wild-goose chase.

In consultations with Managing Editor Mike Kirby, it was determined that we'd comply with James' request as long as the rumor didn't get major play in other media.

But as much as we would have liked for this story to just go away, it wouldn't. A few individuals in the media found it necessary to talk on the radio about the rumor in thinly-veiled euphemisms, or post about it in precise detail on their Internet blogs. Not surprisingly, The Sun Chronicle's night desk editors received call after call Tuesday night from panicky fans fearing the worst about Bruschi. The same happened at newspapers and broadcast stations throughout the region well into Wednesday.

As a result, Bruschi, his family, and those of us in the media who respect him for what he's accomplished on the field and admire him for the courage and determination he displayed to beat the odds and make it back, all had to relive a dark time in their history that did not need to be dredged up again.

Hoaxes have existed since the first humans painted pictures on the walls of their caves. Clearly, some individuals with e-mail accounts and too much time on their hands haven't progressed beyond that in their own personal evolution, which is how reprehensible rumors of this sort get started and gain legs.

Regrettably, in today's media environment, with some "news" organizations falling all over themselves to get the seamy details of Lindsay Lohan's latest arrest and the like, there just isn't room anymore for a reporter to make the right phone calls, dispel false rumors, and just file them away as news that's not fit to print.

The only good thing I can report from all this is that that Tedy Bruschi will be front-and-center at the Gillette Stadium practice field Friday morning, wearing his blue No. 54 jersey and leading his teammates in the quest to reach Super Bowl XLII.

It's just a terrible shame that someone with no credibility - and no decency - felt the need to suggest otherwise.

The Sun Chronicle Online - Columns

Bruschi has plenty left in the tank

BY MARK FARINELLA SUN CHRONICLE STAFF
Tuesday, July 31, 2007 12:04 AM EDT



Tedy Bruschi barks out a play during Monday's training camp at Gillette. (Staff photo by KEITH NORDSTROM)
FOXBORO - Tedy Bruschi could have gone the Mark Twain route, and told reporters that the reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated.

But the senseless, Internet-spread rumor of his death that made the rounds of New England last week was no laughing matter to the Patriots' veteran linebacker, who politely asked reporters to dismiss the topic once and for all upon meeting with them for the first time in this year's training camp.

"I don't want to address that, please," he said after practice at the Gillette Stadium training complex. "That's something I really don't want to address. And I think you would understand why."

If there is such a thing as a "beloved" athlete, Bruschi has reached that level of regard among the football fans of New England for his hard-nosed play, leadership, unquestioned stature as a family man and for the courage and perseverance he displayed as he battled his way to the playing field after suffering a life-threatening stroke in February 2005.

That's what made the rumor of his death so painful to so many as it spread throughout the region from last Monday night through Wednesday. Bruschi has become a symbol of the Patriots, an iconic figure in whom the success of the franchise since he was drafted in 1996 is personified.

But all good things come to an end eventually, and as Bruschi sees other players of his "era" starting to leave the game, it gives him pause to think about the passage of time and how his own career may be impacted by it.

The offseason retirements of former teammates Drew Bledsoe and Curtis Martin have really hit home, he said.

"(Martin) was Wonder Boy here," Bruschi said. "We sort of related, being the younger guys, up and coming and trying to make a name for ourselves and get a spot on the team. Seeing Drew retire and seeing Curtis retire, you can't play this game forever. I know that. But I'm having a lot of fun still."

Bruschi said he gave no thought to retirement after the Patriots' loss to the Colts in last season's AFC Championship Game, even though many believed he might after having won three Super Bowls, and having to balance the responsibility of family life against the medical scare he endured in the past.

"Not really," he said. "After every year you just re-evaluate and see how your body feels and then you start thinking about the next year. Right away I started thinking about the offseason program, how much time we had off. I really feel like we can still do some special things here."

But he also knows that the clock is ticking - not only for him, but for the other members of one of the most seasoned linebacking corps in the league.

"Junior (Seau) is 18 (years in the league) … Chad (Brown), what is he? Sixteen or something? Me 12. Everybody's up there," he said. "We've got a veteran crew, a true veteran crew at linebacker. I think that's good."

With time comes a heightened risk of injury. Bruschi suffered a broken scaphoid bone in his right wrist early in last year's training camp and was hampered by it for most of the year as it affected his ability to grasp, clutch and wrap-tackle his foes.

The wrist is heavily taped in this training camp as well, but only as a precaution, he said.

"Right now this is what I have on it," he said. "Shoot, it's what it is. Coming back from anything, even just a year later, you still want to put a little bit of protection on it. That's all I'm doing."

Bruschi was the Patriots' leading tackler last year (124 total, 67 solo) for the first time in his career, but some suggest that the bulk of his tackles came well after the line of scrimmage, making him a less effective run-stopper than he had been in the past.

"I need to get better. I know this," he said. "That's all I'm focusing on. I'm out here at training camp practicing to get better. You're talking to me about what other people are saying, I can't focus on that. I've got to focus on what I've got to do out there, and that's all I can focus on.

"The past is past," he said. "We're trying to move on. That's what Bill (Belichick) is pushing. He's pushing it to everybody, and I'm hearing it just as much as everyone else is hearing it - that you have to think about the next meeting, the next practice, and that's what I'm doing."

One thing that should help his aging position group considerably is the addition of former Baltimore standout Adalius Thomas, one of the more versatile linebackers in the pro game.

"You just look at Adalius, he's a big, strong guy, and he can do a lot of things," Bruschi said. "We're talking about versatility. That's the first thing you have to talk about of the many things that he can do. Right now we're seeing it.

"I think the person who's going to have the most fun with it is Bill," he said of Thomas' ability to play inside or outside. "He'll find ways to use guys in different spots. He'll tweak something. I'm looking forward to Wednesdays during the season and then looking at a game plan and seeing what he'll plan. A lot of guys do have flexibility."

Bruschi said he was also pleased that all of the Patriots' high-profile additions on either side of the ball made the effort to get to Foxboro for the offseason programs and start the process of team-building as early as they possibly could.

"You sign a free agent and the first thing you want to do is get to know the guy, maybe on a personal level," Bruschi said. "Sometimes with a lot of teams, it doesn't happen until training camp. But all our free agents - Wes (Welker), Sammy (Morris), Adalius, Randy (Moss) - they were here in the offseason.

"Once you get to know them, you know what to expect from them maybe in the weight room and off the field," he said. "And all of a sudden it's a little bit easier because you know them when you're out on the field. I think that's a credit to their work ethic, to be dedicated and come in here and work in the offseason."

Nowhere will that chemistry be more important than in the linebacking corps, Bruschi said. Despite the experience of many of its members, chemistry building remains an ongoing effort.

"Chemistry is building from the minute you get into the meeting room," he said. "To have guys on the field at the same time, to know what calls they're going to make and hear them make them, it always helps."

MARK FARINELLA may be reached at 508-236-0315 or via e-mail at mfarinel@thesunchronicle.com

The Sun Chronicle Online - Sports

INSIDE THE PATRIOTS: Bruschi's words mirror his work
 

By DAN PIRES
Inside the Patriots
August 03, 2007 6:00 AM


FOXBORO — Tedy Bruschi may look like an easy-going movie star, with a slamming white Pepsodent smile and back-in-the-day Erik Estrada good looks. But the undersized middle linebacker is definitely not some pushover, even if sons Tedy Jr., Dante and Rex regularly have their way with him.

It should come as no surprise Bruschi talks like he plays, often as embraceable as a prickly pear and at a level of intensity probably only matched by a couple others in the Patriots locker room.

If you're looking for bromides, platitudes or a steady stream of cliches, Bruschi's not your man. He really doesn't care if he hurts your feelings. Don't like the answer, think before you ask him a question.

"There's urgency every single second around here," said Bruschi when it was suggested the Patriots off-season signals a team trying to buy a championship. "No matter who we sign or what the situation is, whether we've lost one or two in a row or whether we've won 21 in a row. The urgency for the next game is always there."

Several in the national media have said and written that the personnel gorging — wide receivers Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Donté Stallworth, and linebacker Adalius Thomas — validates the Yankee-like perception. Bruschi doesn't care.

"As players in the locker room, we see it as (the front office) trying to make us the best that we possibly can be," Bruschi said. "All of those signings don't mean anything. It's what we do on the field. The work we put in. How we jell as a team. I think it started early on, by all of our free agent signings coming in early and then participating in the off-season workouts. I think you (need) to get to know someone personally first before you can start jelling with them out on the football field. You get to know them (while) working out, running and in the locker room in March and April. Out here, it's that much easier to communicate with them."

(Both Thomas and Welker won off-season conditioning program awards.)

Asked if he was "wary" of Moss and his accompanying reputation, Bruschi indicated he had been reserving judgment. With all eyes trained on him, Moss hasn't done anything to bring any unwanted attention other than injuring his left hamstring. A regular at the stadium since he was traded here in late April, Bruschi said Moss's past has no relevance now.

"You're my teammate once you get here," Bruschi said. "I didn't anticipate how he was going to be. All that stuff in the past, I don't care."

According to Bruschi, their first conversation was very, very brief: "Randy, my name's Tedy Bruschi. Let's go win."

"The only feel you have of anyone is what you've heard and what you've seen (about) them in the media and on television," Bruschi said. "In the past we've always treated free agents the same. We'll start judging you and focusing in on you once you get here. ... You could have gone to seven Pro Bowls in a row and we wouldn't care about that. It's about what you do when you get here."

While some at the same stage in their career are more concerned with putting it all on cruise control, Bruschi, now in his 12th season, says it's all about team.

"We're always giving each other a hard time," he said. "'Did you get your workout in?' 'Are you taking care of yourself?' 'Are you getting enough sleep at night?' Those are the little things we joke about in the locker room and it's just our way of telling each other there's a lot of work to be done even besides what you do on the practice field."

Consistent with his play-to-the-whistle ways, Bruschi's view on perceptions fits.

"We're going to do things the way we see them," he said, "and not the way someone else expects us to do them."

Dan Pires covers the Patriots for The Standard-Times. He can be reached at DPires@s-t.com

SouthCoastToday.com: INSIDE THE PATRIOTS: Bruschi's words mirror his work

 

Bruschi’s passion helps fuel Lua’s motor
Sunday, August 12, 2007
BY SHALISE MANZA YOUNG
Journal Sports Writer


As the Patriots players stream onto the practice field for training camp sessions, they generally do so in small groups of two or three, often players from the same position walking and chatting before they get down to the day’s business.

And nearly every day since camp began, when Tedy Bruschi walks onto the field, he’s accompanied by one of his newest teammates: Oscar Lua.

The seventh-round draft pick has undeniably chosen wisely when it comes to his mentor; Bruschi has long been the heart and soul of the Patriots defense, a high-motor player whose fan-given nickname is “full tilt, full time” and who has tremendous respect in the locker room.

“Tedy has been really great,” Lua said recently. “He’s taken me under his wing. He told me if I have a question, ask him. He’s been letting me tag along.”

Lua and Bruschi are nearly identical physically: the USC product is listed at 6-foot-1, 240 pounds, while Bruschi is 6-1, 247. That size has been just about perfect for Bruschi in a dozen years with the Patriots; Lua must be hoping it does the same for him.

Lua’s resumé is mostly underwhelming — after an All-West career at Indio (Calif.) High, he played as a true freshman with the Trojans as a backup middle linebacker, and was a medical redshirt due to a knee injury the next year.

In 2004, he remained a backup, but became a key special-teams contributor on USC’s national championship-winning team. As a junior, his only year as a starter, he led the team in tackles, but as a senior, he was a backup once again.

But Pierre Woods was similarly unheralded when he was an undrafted rookie last year, and he made the 53-man roster and will likely play a reserve role this season.

Perhaps because he is and has always been an underdog — he was labeled an “overachiever” by some scouts before the draft — Lua has quickly gained a soft spot in the hearts of many fans, who discuss his chances of making the 53-man roster on chat boards.

Middle linebacker might be the toughest position on Bill Belichick’s defense. Players there are responsible for a number of things, including often making the play calls, being able to blitz, be a run stopper, drop back in pass coverage, and make subtle shifts — sometimes on the fly.

“I feel pretty good,” about how training camp is going, Lua said. “I’m still a far cry away from being at the level I want to be at. I understand a lot of it for the most part, and I’m comfortable with the learning curve, so I’m happy with it.”

He may be a New England newbie, but Lua knows that the best way to stick around in Foxboro is to “come in, find your role. Find something you’re good at.”

Lua has been lining up in the middle for the second-team defense, where he is calling the plays, and is continuing as a special-teamer. As a linebacker, it appears that his strength is against the run.

On Friday night, he played in his first NFL exhibition game. Though he admitted that he would be nervous before kickoff, Lua showed well against Tampa Bay, credited with five solo tackles.

While he has nestled himself comfortably under Bruschi’s wing, Lua, who started playing football at 11 years old and was also a standout high school baseball player, grew up idolizing another of his Patriots’ teammates, Junior Seau.

Seau is a Southern California legend of Samoan descent; Lua is also a Southern California native of Samoan heritage.

When he was first drafted in April, Seau’s return to the Patriots after a season-ending broken arm last November wasn’t a certainty; now Lua is in meetings with Seau every day.

He still gets a bit awestruck at times, watching the 18-year veteran, 12-time Pro Bowler and sure-fire Hall of Famer on the same field with him.

“I think a lot of guys probably admire him,” Lua said. “It’s perfect that I get to play with him. I’ve learned professionalism from him: he comes in earlier than the any of the linebackers, lifts, watches film, then starts studying. From Junior I’m learning how to be a football player.”

“I feel pretty good (about training camp). I’m still a far cry away from being at the level I want to be at. I understand a lot of it for the most part, and I’m comfortable with the learning curve, so I’m happy with it.”
Oscar Lua, Linebacker.

Bruschi’s passion helps fuel Lua’s motor | Shalise Manza Young | projo.com | The Providence Journal#

Gimino: Bruschi book reveals his hero: his wife
ANTHONY GIMINO
Tucson Citizen


Tedy Bruschi's new book is mostly about his 2005 stroke, his surgery, his trailblazing return to professional football and his inspiration.
It's the last part, more than anything, that resonates after 268 pages.
And her name is Heidi.
Early in "Never Give Up," Bruschi writes about his struggles with alcohol, including while at UA. It was there that he met Heidi Bomberger, a Sahuaro High School graduate, UA volleyball player and one-year walk-on with Arizona's softball team.
"Heidi told me that she thought I had charisma when she first met me and that's one of the things she found attractive," Bruschi writes.
"But there's a fine line between being charismatic and being a jerk, and, honestly, I could be both. Take that chip on my shoulder, add alcohol to my body and things just exploded in me.
"My whole mentality changed when I drank, and there were times I went crazy. I was very destructive. I started fights. I verbally abused people. I broke things.
"If the campus cops heard about a bunch of guys from the football team showing up a party and causing trouble, they suspected the group I was with."
Bruschi, a college All-American defensive end-turned-All-Pro linebacker with the New England Patriots, married Heidi 10 years ago this summer. He writes there came a time in their marriage when he had to choose between being a family man or continuing to be the college party kid.
Thanks to Heidi, he says, family is the most important thing in his life.
And if you've seen the pictures of him play wrestling with his boys on the field before the 2005 Super Bowl - his third championship with New England - you know he made the right decision.
He writes about Sept. 11, 2001, when he met teammates at quarterback Drew Bledsoe's house "to be together at such a confusing and strange time for our country."
Bruschi tells about leaving, driving home drunk and calling Heidi, who was concerned about his condition. Bruschi made it home, decided to sleep on the couch and woke up to see Heidi, pregnant with their second child, holding their son, Tedy Jr.
"What's it going to be, Tedy?" she said. "How far is this going to go?"
He writes that he hasn't had a drink since.
It's a small part of the book, and certainly not the focus, but it's a telling moment of how and why Bruschi became all grown up.
He would use that maturity and stable family life as a backbone for his recovery from the stroke, which hit one day after the 2005 Pro Bowl while he was at home.
The stroke led to the discovery of a hole in his heart, which was repaired surgically. He initially decided to retire, thankful he would recover enough to hold his children.
The most fascinating part of the book is Bruschi describing the marital tension as he - and doctors - later became convinced he could return to football. As an uncertain Heidi would tell her mother, "This is the father of my children!"
Heidi journeyed through the educational process with her husband, grilling doctors along the way, hoping to get the answers she wanted to hear.
One explained to them that during the stroke, "the blood clot had entered my brain and then broken off into six different branches. Any one of those six could have taken my vision, my speech, or even my life.
"(We) were fortunate that the branches of the clots went to silent spots in my brain, spots that everyone has."
That doctor, and others before him, said Bruschi was as good as new, that he could become the first stroke victim to play in the NFL. But what he craved was Heidi's approval.
That night she told him, "I am strong and I'm going to be strong for you . . . I think you feel that you've been carrying the burden by yourself, but you don't have to do that anymore. 'Cause I'm here with you, and we can do this."
Bruschi did indeed return during the 2005 season, becoming an inspiration to other stroke victims. Before his first game, he received an e-mail from Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona, another UA alumnus.
"Congratulations on your comeback, your courage, and your perseverance," Francona wrote.
The last word struck Bruschi. He called Heidi.
"That's what we're been doing this entire time, honey," he said. "We've been persevering. He got the right word."

Gimino: Bruschi book reveals his hero: his wife | www.tucsoncitizen.com ®

8/13/07
Pees at the podium; Bruschi discusses book

by Erik Scalavino, Patriots.com and PFW Staff Writer

 

Never Give Up.

It’s not o
nly the attitude Bruschi takes with him on the football field, it’s also the title of his new book.

In it, the Pats linebacker chronicles his frightening stroke and miraculous comeback thereafter. Today, Bruschi explained his reasons for writing the book (with sports journalist Michael Holley).

“I want to raise stroke awareness, because when I had my stroke, I didn’t realize I was having a stroke. I would hope this would open some eyes – particularly to people in my age group – that it can happen.”

Bruschi added that he received thousands of letters and e-mails from stroke victims and other fans who followed his situation and were curious about how he managed to overcome it.

“And I just couldn’t personally answer every one of those letters,” Bruschi admitted. “So, what I wanted to do was write the book and say…this is my answer. This is what I went through, this is who I am, this is how I was able to come back.”

Bruschi indicated that the process of writing the book was emotional for him.

“I talk about my marriage, how the stroke affected my marriage. My emotions coming back [to football] and reliving every single page was sort of emotionally trying at times.”

What did the experience – of going through a stoke and then writing about it – teach him?

“I think one of the main things I learned was…as professional athletes, we think that we’re such big, strong individuals and confident and mentally tough that we can handle everything ourselves…sometimes you can’t.”

Pees at the podium; Bruschi discusses book

Bruschi’s Book

August 13, 2007
Tedy time
By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff


FOXBOROUGH –- Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi answered questions from the media this afternoon, covering a variety of topics.

Bruschi said he feels better this year than last year.

“I think the big difference with me is just being a little more freer with my hands,” he said. “The wrist is feeling a lot better. It was something I had to deal with last year. I’m feeling great out there and I think I’ve seen improvement from myself since the start of camp, which is what all of us want to see, and which Coach really preaches, about getting better every day. In terms of last year, I think the big difference is having a little more strength in my right hand. It’s been nice to have."

Bruschi also touched on why he sought out Buccaneers fullback Mike Alstott after Friday night’s preseason opener.

“I was watching TV the night before the game, and had seen all the news reports on his situation, how he had re-injured his neck, and was put on IR for the rest of the year,” Bruschi said. “I just wanted to seek him out and tell him that whatever he decided –- his future, he said he didn’t know what he wanted to do –- I wished him well and that I said a little prayer for him.

“I think I can relate more to situations like that from what happened to me back in 2005. I understand what some of the feelings you go through, some of the thought processes, so I could definitely understand where he was coming from.”

Bruschi also touched on what he hoped to get out of writing a book on his recovery from a stroke.

“The first thing I wanted to accomplish was raise stroke awareness,” he said. “The big thing with me when I had my stroke is that I didn’t realize I was having a stroke when I was going through it at the moment. I would hope that this would open some eyes to particularly people in my age group that it can happen.

“And also, I got thousands of letters, thousands of emails, they all wrote me saying ‘this is my story, these are the situations I’m going through, the emotions I’m feeling, and I followed your progress from your stroke to your return, how did you do it?’

"I couldn’t personally answer every one of those letters, so what I wanted to do was write the book and say ‘if you want to know my answer, this is my answer, this is what I went through, this is who I am, this is how I was able to come back and stand in front of you right now.’”

Tedy time - Reiss' Pieces

 

 

September 17, 2007
Bruschi's take


Linebacker Tedy Bruschi was particularly emotional in the post-game locker room tonight.

"We went through a lot this week," he said. "It was one of the tougher weeks where we had to block out everything. Hearing some of the things that were said about our teams, this team, past teams, this victory was for all Patriots, past and present.

"This is the most satisfying [win] because I've never been in a situation where people have doubted what we've done with past teams," he continued. "I've been here my entire career. I've never been with another organization. I've never had another logo on the side on my helmet. It's only been a Patriots logo. I think I care about that logo just as much, if not more, than anyone in this locker room. I care about the way it's perceived. I care about what people say about it.

"So this last week was tough. We went back to what we do, what this logo does on the side of this helmet -- however we get it done, we get it done. This week, I don't care what anyone says, it was about winning."

Bruschi's take - Reiss' Pieces

Bruschi to Critics: Back off Belichick

By David Brown
Standard-Times staff writer
September 18, 2007 6:00 AM

FOXBORO — The NFL hit his wallet. The media whacked his reputation. But in the midst of continuing controversy, Bill Belichick has been buoyed by the support of his players, his owner and his fans.

Walking out to standing ovation from Patriots fans at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night, Belichick was also awarded the game ball from team owner Robert Kraft in an emotional postgame celebration after New England dismantled a talented Chargers squad, 38-14.

"On the sideline, after the game, in here, a lot of us expressed the way we feel about him to him," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "Mr. Kraft gave him the game ball. He's our head coach, and we stand behind him. We stand behind him, and I think all of you should back off a little bit."

Bruschi, speaking publicly for the first time since the 'video gate' scandal broke last week, said Sunday's victory helped silence critics who attributed the Patriots' success under Belichick to the theft of opponents' defensive signals. The violation of league rules led Commissioner Roger Goodell to fine Belichick $500,000 and strip the team of least one 2008 draft pick.

"We've had a lot of emotional wins, and like I said, I'm comparing this win with the most satisfying of my career," Bruschi said. "Emotions were high, it was up there with a lot of wins we had."

In a fiery postgame address, Bruschi scolded critics for questioning his team's success.

"You better look at us and you better see a bunch of winners in here, because that's what we did tonight," Bruschi said. "I think of past victories, and I think of past championships, and I think of people like Roman Phifer, and people like Drew Bledsoe and I think of all the past players that were here, Ted Johnson, people that helped us win championships. And they were knocking on people that aren't even here right now and really couldn't defend themselves."

Bruschi also had a proposition for players who questioned the Patriots' championships. Members of the Eagles, for example, wondered out loud last week if they were cheated out of Super Bowl XXXIX.

"I got something to say to all the players in the league that wanted to comment on this," Bruschi said. "If you were on past teams and you've got doubts, you've got all these hypotheticals, I've got a hypothetical for you. Let's get all the players that played with us and bring them back. And let's get all the players that you had and bring them back on your teams. And let's play again. We would win again. Period."

Belichick said he was grateful for Bruschi's support.

"It meant a lot," Belichick said. "Nobody has more heart on this team than Tedy Bruschi, and I mean that figuratively. We have great players on this team, guys that work hard, guys that put everything into the game and that I totally respect. The team was very supportive, the entire organization, starting with Mr. Kraft going all the way down to the players and everybody else."

With commissioner Roger Goodell asking Belichick to turn over all video, notes and files related to the Patriots spying on opposing coaches during games, new allegations have surfaced that accuse the Pats of high-tech gamesmanship, including reports that the team used wireless frequencies to jam communication between the Jets' coaches and quarterbacks.

The commissioner said Sunday he's monitoring all 32 teams in the league for possible impropriety.

In a Monday press conference, Belichick said he would comply with the commissioner's request, but continued to elude questions about the cheating scandal.

"I think that's a fair question, and I'm sure there are other questions out there as well," Belichick said when asked for reaction to the commissioner's request. "I've made my comments on that and, as Mr. Kraft said last night, we'll handle it as an internal matter, so I'll just leave it at that."

Asked if there were more videos to hand over, Belichick redirected his response to next week's game against the Bills.

"I think that right now we need to spend our time watching a lot of video on Buffalo," Belichick said.

On Sunday night, nose tackle Vince Wilfork said the team would continue to respond to the controversy by focusing on football.

"We want to play football," Wilfork said. "That's the one thing you can do to shut up critics, is win."

SouthCoastToday.com: Bruschi to critics: Back off Belichick


Bruschi speaks out on controversy
Monday, September 17, 2007

By KEVIN McNAMARA
Journal Sports Writer

 

FOXBORO – Bill Belichick may not be talking much but his players certainly felt the heat from last week’s spying scandal.

When media, fans and especially other players around the NFL started calling into question the legitimacy of the Patriots’ three Super Bowl wins in light of Belichick’s penchant for taping opponent’s sideline signals, a line was crossed. The players says they have too much pride in their accomplishments through the Belichick Era to let others take shots at them.

No one seemed more upset than the prideful linebacker Tedy Bruschi. The 12-year veteran was clearly upset with the developments of the previous week and called last night’s 38-14 win ''one of the biggest of my career,’’ because his reputation and that of previous Patriots players was on the line.

''To come out and win this game after hearing some of the things that were said about our team, hey, this victory was for all Patriots teams past and present,’’ he said.

Asked just what bothered him from comments made by other players, Bruschi sniffed, ''Hey, I’ve got something to say to all the players in the league who wanted to comment on this. If you’re on past teams and you’ve got doubts and all these hypotheticals, I’ve got a hypothetical for you. Let’s get all the players that played with us and get them back. Then get all the players you had and bring them back on your team. And let’s play again. We would win again, period.’’

The Patriots pride themselves on focusing only on the next game on their schedule and those thoughts were crystallized this week. Once the NFL slapped Belichick with a $500,000 fine and the Pats another $250,000 (plus a first round pick), the doubters began to surface.

But after posting identical 38-14 wins over the Jets and Chargers to start the season, the players feel they’ve made a statement that any extra 'help’ from scouting films has little effect on their play.

''This was different. This wasn’t people calling us out or some other type of gamesmanship. This was different,’’ said Bruschi. ''It was a different atmosphere in this locker room because of the way things were going on this week. Did we use that going out there? We didn’t really. We just buckled down in the locker room and focused and just said `we need to win this game. We need to win the game, period.’’

Quarterback Tom Brady clearly heard the rumblings about the legitimacy of his team’s wins as well. Like Bruschi, he thinks the team's record should stand for itself.

''We’ve won quite a few big games around here,’’ said Brady. ''If you were to listen to everything that everybody says and respond, there’s just too many battles to fight. There’s only one battle that I care about and that’s playing football and performing well. We control that. You just can’t go out and respond to what everybody says about you. There’s not enough hours in the day. Especially after you’ve been winning for the last six or seven years.’’


Bruschi speaks out on controversy | Kevin McNamara | projo.com | The Providence Journal

 

Belichick, Pats red hot about red zone woes
By Karen Guregian | Monday, October 1, 2007


Bend, but don’t break. In the past, that was a slogan many of us gave to Patriot defenses, and it certainly applied.

Sure, they’d give up yardage. Teams would move the ball against them. But during crunch time, when the opposing team was inside the 20, that’s when the Pats got busy. That’s when they were at their best. That’s when they were at their stingiest.

Score a touchdown?

No way. Not on their watch. The Pats were hellbent on making sure opposing teams either didn’t score, or had to settle for a field goal. That was their mantra, their trademark.

Some may have thought Bill Belichick was just trying to keep his team grounded when he chided himself and his defense for their performance in the red zone, saying it was “ridiculous,” that opposing teams were 5-for-5.

Red zone statistics, however, aren’t something the Pats’ coach takes lightly. He wasn’t merely trying to stir the pot when he sarcastically suggested it wouldn’t be hard to improve their lot in that area given how bad they had been.

What happens inside his 20-yard line matters to Belichick, particularly when he’s facing an offensive juggernaut like the Cincinnati Bengals.

It matters enough that even with the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL, it was a particular point of emphasis this week, just like the punt return was prior to the game with Buffalo.

“Right now, we’re last in the NFL in the red zone,” defensive end Jarvis Green said. “That’s not something we want to carry around as far as being known as.”

No, that’s not the image they want to bear, especially with Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts still on the radar.

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi [stats] has been an integral part of those “bend but don’t break” teams. He takes pride in what those teams were able to accomplish, how they were able to constantly frustrate teams on the doorstep.

They’d either make big stops, or come up with a key turnover. That just hasn’t happened in the first three games when teams reach the 20.

Going back, just to get an idea how good the Pats have been in this area in the past, in 2001, the team was third best (19-for-49 -- 38.8 percent) in the league in red zone defense. In 2003, fourth best. In 2004, third best, and last season, the red zone defense was second best (12 TDs in 35 possessions) in the NFL.

They did have a few off years in 2005 (27th) and 2002 (30th), but four of the last six seasons they’ve been among the best at keeping teams out of the endzone when they’ve gotten inside the 20.

That’s why it’s such a huge source of dissatisfaction now, even if it’s only the fourth week of the season. That’s why it’s unacceptable to all involved, from the head coach on down.

“It’s bugging everyone around here,” Bruschi said. “Coaches are making a huge emphasis on it this week. We haven’t stopped anyone yet, even though we’re doing well as a defense as a whole. When teams get down there, we need to play a lot tighter.

“We’re working to get better, believe me,” Bruschi said. “Whenever there’s a glaring statistic like that, when teams are getting down there and scoring every time, it’s something we really take pride in. It’s once you get close, buckle down, and not let them in. And we haven’t been doing that lately. I know it’s still early, but it’s something we still have to work on immediately.”

The players can’t quite put a finger on the problem. They just know this: they don’t want it to turn into a season-long flaw. Neither does the coach.

“It’s been a focus. We have to do a better job down there. We have to coach it better. We have to play it better. We have to do a better job,” Belichick said earlier in the week. “We’re going to have to stop somebody sometime. We haven’t stopped anybody yet. It starts with me; coach them a little better then maybe we’ll play better. If we play better, maybe we’ll stop somebody. We need to do that. you can’t let them in the end zone every time they cross the 20-yard line. It’s ridiculous.”

It’s un-Patriot-like. And if they don’t fix it, especially against teams like the Bengals, there could be trouble.

Belichick, Pats red hot about red zone woes - BostonHerald.com

 

Patriots' play on third down was first-rate

Christopher L. Gasper

Boston Globe

10/03/07

CINCINNATI - After the Patriots' 34-13 win Monday night over Cincinnati, Tedy Bruschi joked that teams should consider putting a stop sign on Mike Vrabel.

Bruschi's fellow linebacker was once again a touchdown-catching tight end, grabbing a 1-yard pass from Tom Brady in the first quarter. It was Vrabel's ninth career reception, all of which have resulted in scores.

But on the other side of the ball Vrabel, Bruschi, and the Patriots defense did put up stop signs, especially on third down, forcing the bickering Bengals to go 0 for 7 in that situation.

Third-down dominance was one of the primary reasons the Patriots improved their record to 4-0. The New England offense was 7 for 12 on third down, a 58 percent conversion rate, and all three of Brady's TD passes, one to Vrabel and two to Randy Moss, came on third-down plays.

The Patriots lead the NFL in offensive and defensive third-down efficiency. The offense has converted 20 of 39 third downs (51.3 percent) and the defense has held opponents to a 30-percent success rate (12 of 40).

The one New England touchdown that didn't come on third down was a third-quarter 7-yard run by Sammy Morris, who had the second 100-yard rushing effort of his career (21 carries for 117 yards), filling in for Laurence Maroney. Morris found the end zone on fourth and 1 with 7:55 left in the third quarter.

But the key play on the drive, which gave New England a 24-7 lead, was a third and 3 at their 26 that the Patriots converted when wide receiver Wes Welker scampered 27 yards on a reverse.

"Any time you can convert on third down and keep the drive going and try and make things happen that is huge," said Welker.

"It was a play that looked like it was going to break down for a while and then it kind of opened up like the Red Sea. Kevin [Faulk] did a great job of selling it, and the guys did a great job of blocking and we were able to get around the corner."

The Patriots used their running game, which averaged 5.1 yards per carry - 34 rushes for 173 yards - to set up manageable third downs and keep the Bengals guessing.

Brady's first touchdown pass to Moss, a 7-yarder in the second quarter, came on third and 4. His second one, a 14-yard collaboration late in the fourth quarter, came on third and 5.

On the other side of the ball, the defense set the tone on Cincinnati's first possession. On third and 11 from the 30, Adalius Thomas, lined up as a fourth down lineman, blew past Bengals left tackle Levi Jones for his first sack as a Patriot.

Bruschi had a big third-down stop in the third quarter. With the Patriots leading by 17, Cincinnati was driving and had third and 2 at the New England 22. Bruschi batted down a Carson Palmer pass, forcing the Bengals to settle for a 40-yard field goal from Shayne Graham, one of two field goals Graham had on the night.

The Patriots held the Bengals to just 57 yards rushing on 15 carries, forcing them to pass on third down. Of the Bengals' seven third downs, three were third and 11, one was third and 8, one was third and 5, one was third and 3, and one was third and 2. Cincinnati called pass plays each time.

And sometimes the Patriots didn't even let the Bengals get to third down.

Asante Samuel sparked the backbiting between Palmer and Johnson when he intercepted a skinny post intended for Johnson at the 2-yard line on second and 9 from the New England 20. The pick, which came 1:22 before halftime, sent the Patriots to the locker room with a 10-point lead (17-7) and all the momentum.

The Patriots' penchant for ushering other offenses off the field and keeping their own on it leads to lopsided time of possession numbers. Against Cincinnati, the Patriots possessed the ball for 37 minutes 24 seconds to just 22:36 for the Bengals.

"I think the one thing it does when we get a huge advantage in time of possession, if an offense can do that, it wears the other defense down," said Bruschi. "And we're a little bit fresher than we would usually be. I think that's a huge advantage."

Cornerback Ellis Hobbs said that what worked against Cincinnati doesn't matter anymore. The Patriots are moving on to the Cleveland Browns, whom they host this Sunday.

One team from Ohio down and one to go.

Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at cgasper@globe.com.

Patriots' defense on third down first-rate against the Bengals - The Boston Globe

Up Close With: Bruschi appreciates family life

01:47 PM EDT on Sunday, October 7, 2007
BY SHALISE MANZA YOUNG
Journal Sports Writer

FOXBORO — For Patriots fans, Tedy Bruschi doesn’t need much of an introduction. Now in his 12th season, all in New England, the proud linebacker has been at the heart of many of the team’s successes, but at the same time has gone through great personal pain.

In his dozen years with the Pats, he has become beloved for his all-out playing style, blue-collar background and for the way he returned after suffering a stroke just days after New England’s Super Bowl XXXIX victory.

Last year, at 33 years old, Bruschi led New England with 124 tackles.

The father of three boys — Tedy Jr., 6, Rex, 5, and Dante, 2 – with his wife, Heidi, whom he met at the University of Arizona, Bruschi has served as a co-captain of the Patriots for the last six years.

Here’s this week’s Up Close.

My first car: Was a 1967 Buick Grand Sport, given to me by my brother, Tony. I had been on a scooter in college and my brother wanted a little more metal around me. My first mode of transportation was a Honda 150cc scooter; I bought it with a Pell grant (a federal college grant named for former R.I. Sen. Claiborne Pell) my sophomore year of college.

My perfect off-day: I would say wake up, have breakfast with the family; since it’s Tuesday, drop the kids (Tedy Jr. and Rex) off at school, come home and spend time with my youngest; go out to the garden and, since it’s the fall, plant some bulbs — I like to garden — pick the kids up; get someone to watch the kids and take my wife to a matinee, have dinner with the kids, then maybe play darts in my basement, finish with a book and then sleep.

The last album I bought or downloaded: Was Kenny Chesney, Poets and Pirates (hearing this, Mike Vrabel, standing nearby, chimes in that he borrowed the album and hasn’t returned it yet). I just downloaded Alicia Keys’ “No One,” and I can’t wait for the album to come out. I’m a big Alicia Keys fan.

My hero: My wife. Within 10 years of marriage, I don’t think there’s anything we haven’t gotten over together. When you go through that, it creates a bond that can never be compromised.

If I wasn’t in the NFL: I don’t even know if I’d be a college graduate, because I couldn’t afford to go to college (without the athletic scholarship he received from Arizona). I’d probably be doing manual labor; my brother is a supervisor for a construction company in Las Vegas, and I’d be with him. But I was the lucky one.

One job I’d never want to have: Any job is a good job.

My guilty pleasure: I like to smoke a cigar every now and then.

http://www.projo.com/patriots/content/sp_fbn_upclosewith07_10-07-07_9Q7DEJ2.2d46b59.html

Under scrutiny
Belichick again faces running-it-up question

Karen Guregian By Karen Guregian
Tuesday, October 30, 2007 -



FOXBORO - Amid a backdrop of national pundits taking him to task, Patriots [team stats] coach Bill Belichick once again was asked yesterday to defend twice going for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 52-7 victory over the Washington Redskins.

On the first play in question, the Pats were faced with a fourth-and-1 from the 7-yard line with the score 38-0. Instead of kicking a field goal, Tom Brady [stats] ran a quarterback sneak for a first down. Then, with Matt Cassel at the helm, up 45-0 and facing a fourth-and-2 from the Washington 37, the Pats went for it, with Cassel hitting Jabar Gaffney [stats] for a 21-yard gain.

Belichick’s assertion was that attempting a field goal on the first occasion would have made it 41-0. At least by going in that instance, you give the defense a chance to stop you.

The second case?

“(So what do you do?). Kick a 56-yard field goal with the score like that?” Belichick said. “So those are your options.”

He didn’t offer much on angry comments made by several Redskins players, including Randall Godfrey, who said the Pats showed a lack of class by piling on and reportedly told Belichick just that on the field after the game.

“Randall Godfrey is entitled to his opinion,” Belichick said. “You can talk to him about that. I’m sure he’ll give it to you.”

During their weekly guest spots on WEEI, both Tom Brady and Tedy Bruschi [stats] also addressed the topic. Brady took offense to the piling on theory when questioned on Dennis & Callahan.

“I really don’t think that’s the case at all,” Brady said. “(Belichick) always tells us, ‘Guys, when I put you out there, I put you out there to perform. You’re not out there to punt. You’re not out there to run safe plays and run off the field.’

“We’re just doing our job. We’re just executing our offense. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do, take a knee, take three knees and kick it to them? Hey, we’re out there to play. We’re not out there to be someone’s whipping boy.”

On the Dale & Holley show, Bruschi was asked how he would feel if he was on the other team, and saw a team passing late in the game, attempting go-routes to Randy Moss or passing to Wes Welker for touchdowns?

“It’s our job to stop it,” the linebacker said. “I’m not going to ask you to be easy on me just because of the score. As a defensive player, I’m going to look at it as another down. I don’t care what they do, it’s our job to stop the offense. That’s what we should do. And vice versa, when you look at the offense, it’s their job is to score.

“And Bill has told us that when you’re out there, we’re not putting you out there to punt. We’re putting you out there to score no matter when it is. We want to work to get better even if there’s five minutes left in the game. We see it as five minutes to get better. So we’re going to keep working.”

Bruschi indicated none of the Redskins approached him on being unhappy about what transpired on the field.

“I can just tell you how I look at it as a defensive player,” Bruschi said. “I don’t want anything to be easy on me. It’s my job to stop you from getting a first down, from scoring, no matter what the situation is. I don’t care what the score is, I’m still going to play hard and try and stop you from scoring.

“It’s pro sports, it’s pro football. Bring what you want to bring. Whatever you want to do, it’s my job to try and stop it.”

Under scrutiny - BostonHerald.com

Bruschi is a hit with young fan

Before the Patriots dispatched the Redskins Sunday, Tedy Bruschi made fan Jared Lacombe's wish come true. Lacombe, a 15-year-old leukemia patient from Winter Springs, Fla., requested to meet No. 54 through the Make-a-Wish Foundation. So the linebacker arranged for Jared to hang with the team during warm-ups and be in the tunnel as the Pats took the field. Bruschi had dinner with Jared after the game in the players' dining room at Gillette.

Partying their Sox off - The Boston Globe

Unbeaten New England says its far from perfect

By Tom Pedulla, USA TODAY

INDIANAPOLIS — New England Patriots players have been wearing white T-shirts that bear the words "I eat it," on the front before the back reads, "humble pie."

It is a reference to the heaping helpings of humble pie that unrelenting coach Bill Belichick has fed them in the week following one lopsided victory after another this season. And since they have a bye following Sunday's 24-20 win against the previously undefeated Indianapolis Colts, they served themselves.

"It wasn't one of our best games," quarterback Tom Brady said after New England improved to 9-0 by toppling the defending Super Bowl champions. "A bunch of things didn't go the way we planned it. We've got to find a way to improve that."

Brady added, "I'm really coming away thinking, 'I wish we could have made a couple of more plays here and there.' We could have done a bunch of things better."

The terrifying thought for the rest of the NFL? He is right.

Brady, for instance, was intercepted twice by the defending Super Bowl champs after he had been picked off only two times in the previous eight games. New England was penalized 10 times for 146 yards.

"We had some bad plays out there," Belichick said, "a couple of long pass interferences, gave up a 70-yard touchdown on a check-down, a couple of third-down conversions that they made. I think we can do a better job of coaching, getting some of those things straightened out."

Belichick is sure to tweak the Patriots' pride by showing them time and again the whiffs that occurred during Joseph Addai's spectacular 73-yard catch and run that provided Indianapolis with a 13-7 advantage shortly before halftime.

"A 2-yard pass that goes 70 yards for a score," Belichick said, "that's not where we want to be defensively."

Maybe not, but his high-powered club has shown enough through the first nine games to loom as a clear and present danger to the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only team to march through the regular season undefeated on the way to an NFL title.

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi emphasized that the Patriots must be careful not to buy into the hype. "We have to do our best not to," he said, "and to do that, we have to think about who the next opponent is."

He believes New England will grow from its post-Halloween scare in Indianapolis, its first severe test after it steamrolled eight opponents by a 331-127 margin.

"It's important to know we can still dig deep, keep our composure and do what we have to do," Bruschi said
.

Unbeaten New England says its far from perfect - USATODAY.com

Patriots go into bye week with chance for unbeaten season
By Howard Ulman, AP Sports Writer


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Ellis Hobbs had some exciting plans for the bye week. The Patriots cornerback was looking forward to sitting back, relaxing and catching up on some video games.

"I'm going to play some Madden," he said. "I'm going to play some unrealistic football. That's what I'm going to do."

Actually, that's what his team has been doing all season, even without picking up a single remote control.

How realistic is a 9-0 record, eight wins by at least 17 points and widespread buzz about New England's chances of having the NFL's first unbeaten season in 35 years?

From "Spygate" to claims of running up the score to the spectacular new Tom Brady-Randy Moss and Brady-Wes Welker connections, it's been a one-of-a-kind season for New England.

Even Don Shula got into the act. The coach of the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the last team to win every game, said New England should get an asterisk if it finishes undefeated because it was penalized for having a camera on the sideline taping New York Jets coaches during the season opener.

Several Patriots players brushed it off. Shula is entitled to his opinion, they said.

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi was more opinionated. He said the team could feed off Shula's criticism, as if it needs another weapon to whip overmatched opponents.

"Obviously, he's one of the most well-respected men that's ever been in this game and I can't control what opinions he has," Bruschi said. "If someone questions your integrity, someone questions who you are and someone questions the organization you've been a part of ever since you walked into the league, would it upset you?

"So, yes, it does upset me," he said. "If they want to keep saying those things, maybe we just need to play a little bit harder."

That can't be good news for Buffalo when the Patriots arrive in town for next Sunday's game. The Bills have won four of their last five games, but lost to New England by 31 points at Foxborough.

The Patriots are even better than the lofty preseason predictions for them and are coming off their most important win of the season, even though the margin was just four points.

They rallied from a 20-10 deficit to a 24-20 win at then-unbeaten Indianapolis with "probably eight minutes of as good of football as we've played all year," in the fourth quarter, coach Bill Belichick said.

The bye will interrupt that roll, but the Patriots aren't concerned that they'll cool down. They'll rest their minds and bodies, scout themselves and gear up for a seven-game stretch to end the regular season.

"You're happy it's here, but at the same time you think about it and you want to keep going but you may need it," running back Kevin Faulk said. "You take what they give you. My mama always told me a saying, 'You never turn down nothing but your collar.' So you don't turn it down. You just take it and enjoy it."

Of the remaining seven games, only two are against teams with winning records: at home against Pittsburgh in Week 13 and on the road against the New York Giants in the regular-season finale. Both are 6-2.

New England players are focusing on their next game, against a team that's gained the second-fewest yards in the NFL and allowed the fourth-most.

So could the Patriots go 16-0? Or 19-0 if they win their fourth Super Bowl championship in seven years?

"I'm just trying to go 10-0 at this point," defensive end Richard Seymour said, "but that would be a great accomplishment."

Just another one in a season filled with them.

Brady is on target to smash Peyton Manning's single-season NFL records for touchdown passes and passer rating; Moss already has tied Stanley Morgan's team record with 12 touchdown receptions; and Mike Vrabel forced three fumbles on sacks in a single game.

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment was the win inside the noisy RCA Dome in Indianapolis. That's where the Patriots squandered a 21-3 lead and lost the AFC championship game last season. They came back last Sunday when the defense stopped Joseph Addai in the second half and Rodney Harrison shut down tight end Dallas Clark most of the game.

"He's obviously had some prime-time performances, but this definitely ranks up there," Seymour said.

Harrison was suspended for the first four games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Seymour missed the first seven following offseason knee surgery. Now both are healthy.

The running game lost Laurence Maroney for three games with a groin injury and Sammy Morris for the season after he sustained a chest injury in the sixth game. Yet it's ranked eighth in the league.

Brady has 33 scoring passes, just 16 short of Manning's mark, and set an NFL record with at least three touchdown passes in nine games to start a season.

But every mistake bothers the Patriots. Against the Colts, Brady was sacked on the first play and threw two interceptions, the defense had trouble tackling Addai and the team was hit with 146 yards in penalties.

Still, they beat the defending Super Bowl champions.

Only a bye week, it seems, can slow the Patriots.

"It's midseason for us," Seymour said. "In all of those championship runs, I think we played our best football in November and December and January, so this team has yet to accomplish that."

Seven more wins and the Patriots will accomplish what hasn't happened since 1972: an unbeaten regular season.

"It'll mean something if we get there," said Hobbs, who had more immediate concerns. "For right now, we're worried about Buffalo. I'm worried about this bye week and my Madden."
The Associated Press

Patriots go into bye week with chance for unbeaten season - USATODAY.com

Patriots Notebook

Bruschi bristles
Former Dolphins coach Don Shula told the New York Daily News that if the Patriots go 16-0, he feels the NFL should place an asterisk next to the record because of the team getting caught for illegal videotaping.

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who spoke passionately about his feelings for the "Patriots logo" following the team's Week 2 win over the Chargers, called it "unfortunate" that Shula had "some of those things to say" but acknowledged that he wouldn't worry about things out of his control.

Asked if he was bothered by those who have questioned the credibility of the Patriots, Bruschi answered in the form of a question.

"If someone questions your integrity, if someone questions who you are, if someone questions the organization you've been a part of ever since you walked into the league, would it upset you? So yes, it does upset me," he said. "If they want to keep saying those things, maybe we just need to play a little bit harder."

Brown goes on the clock - The Boston Globe
 

No slowing down Tedy
Pats ’backer won’t adjust for age
By Karen Guregian | Friday, November 16, 2007 | http://www.bostonherald.com | N.E. Patriots



FOXBORO - Red Sox [team stats] pitcher Curt Schilling [stats] had to make concessions to age. At 40, he re-invented himself. He went from a classic power pitcher to a skilled artisan on the mound.

Is the same possible in football when players get older? Can a defensive lineman, or a wide receiver, or a linebacker do things to make up for a lost step, or half-step? Can they do something if they lose their fastball, so to speak?

Tedy Bruschi [stats] said no.

“I can’t go out there and say I’m going to hit this guy different. I can’t go out there and say I’m going to play this block differently. I can’t do that,” Bruschi said yesterday, when asked if he has made any adjustments to account for advancing in years. “I can’t take a little bit off my fastball when I’m coming to take on guards. It’s either you can play football or you can’t.”

At points during last season, while dealing witha broken scaphoid in his wrist, and earlier this year, when he was essentially alternating snaps with Junior Seau at inside linebacker, some people may have disputed the issue with Bruschi. They may have claimed he had lost a little something in his game.

Bruschi countered by saying he’d hang it up if he lost a step, or if his game wasn’t up to par with his standards.

“In terms of adjustments, changing your game, I don’t know if it’s possible. As I said, either you can play football, or you can’t,” Bruschi said. “For 12 years, I’ve just been trying to find a way. Find a way, any way I possibly can, to use my ability to contribute and make plays for the team to help them win. That’s still what I’m doing.

“I’ve always relied on my knowledge of the system, the way I feel comfortable playing in the system, finding my place, and putting myself in good positions. That’s what I pride myself on,” he continued. “I really can’t adjust myself to say, ‘I’m not going to hit this guy as hard.’ You just can’t do that. I need my fastball.”

Bruschi is one of six 30-something linebackers on the team. He is also a stroke survivor, and at age 34, he currently leads the team in tackles with 54 after nine games. Of late, he’s been on the field for all of the big defensive snaps, all of the important defensive series during games.

Concessions to age?

He said the only difference or changes he has made came from what occurs Monday through Saturday in his preparation to play on Sunday.

“In terms of getting to Sunday, that’s where the course of my career has changed,” Bruschi admitted. “When I was younger, I could get to the stadium whenever I wanted . . . Now, I get to the stadium early. I have to make sure my body is right. And during the week, it’s maintenance.”

It’s hot tubs, cold tubs and massages. Whatever it takes to make sure he can play football the way he always has played.

“When I watch myself on film, I self-evaluate,” Bruschi said. “I look at myself, and I say, ‘Am I still contributing? Am I still doing the things I think help this team win?’ And to me, the answer has been, all the way for 12 years in my career, yes.”

If the answer was “no” he wouldn’t be playing. He’d be retired. Or Patriots [team stats] coach Bill Belichick would have Bruschi on the bench.

When asked about athletes having to make concessions to age, Belichick said it wasn’t possible for them to keep up their speed after 30. But that didn’t mean they couldn’t maintain their ability. Some players get better.

“Like a baseball player, a guy might not be faster at 33, than he was at 23, but he might be a better base-stealer because he can get a better jump on the pitcher,” Belichick said. “He has a better sense of when to run, all those kind of things. In football, experience, anticipation, knowing what to do can make up for a lot of things.”

For Bruschi, though, there’s no gray area. It’s black and white. “Either you can play football,” he said, “or you can’t.”
 Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/football/patriots/view.bg?articleid=1045067

 

PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK
Dressed for success?
Wardrobe ready for division title

By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff | November 21, 2007


Linebacker Tedy Bruschi coined the term, and it has caught on among Patriots players and coaches. There are games, and then there are hat-and-T-shirt games.

A "hat-and-T-shirt game" means a championship can be won, and the Patriots are playing for their first set of hats and T-shirts of the season Sunday night against the Eagles.

With a victory, the Patriots will clinch the AFC East, and in the process tie the NFL record for the earliest division clinch since the 16-game schedule was established in 1978. The Patriots would join the 1985 Bears, 1997 49ers, and 2004 Eagles as the fastest teams to clinch (11 games).

As it turns out, the Patriots could actually be presented their hats and T-shirts before the 8:15 p.m. kickoff. If the visiting Bills lose to Jacksonville in the afternoon, that would clinch the division.

The Patriots have won four straight division titles, and have captured five of the last six. Winning it this season will set a record for most consecutive division championships in AFC East history.

The Patriots' streak of four straight division titles is tied with the Colts (AFC South) for the longest current streak in the league.

Dressed for success? - The Boston Globe

 

You know who* is comin’ to town
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
BY SHALISE MANZA YOUNG
Journal Sports Writer


Patriots receiver Randy Moss and Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis will face off once again on Sunday.

The Journal / Mary Murphy

It is around 10 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 9.

New York Jets coach Eric Mangini has arrived at the Meadowlands, ready to kick off a season full of expectations after the rookie coach led the Jets to a 10-6 record and a playoff appearance in 2006.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is also at the stadium in northern New Jersey on the day of the season opener, with his team already being called the best in the NFL after the acquisitions of Adalius Thomas, Randy Moss and Wes Welker in the offseason.

What will happen that afternoon, just moments after the teams kick off, will have an impact that lasts for months.

On that day, Mangini dropped a dime to NFL Security and told them that a member of Belichick’s staff would have a video camera on the sidelines, taping the Jets’ signals. By the end of the first quarter, the cameraman, team video assistant Matt Estrella, had been taken off the field by league officials, and the videotape confiscated.

Mangini, who had spent 10 years working with and learning from Belichick, had turned in his former boss.

Patriots vs. Jets: Is it just another game to win, or is it time for revenge?

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Just three days before the game, NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson sent a memo to all 32 teams, reminding them that “Videotaping of any type, including but not limited to taping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals, is prohibited on the sidelines, in the coaches’ booth, in the locker room, or at any other locations accessible to club staff members during the game.”

And Estrella was right there, on the Pats’ sideline, pointing the camera at the scoreboard to record down-and-distance and then at the Jets’ coaches on the sideline sending in signals.

After an investigation, league commissioner Roger Goodell, who has ruled with an iron fist since taking over office in September 2006, handed down the stiffest penalties in league history: Belichick was fined $500,000 and the franchise an additional $250,000. The team also had to forfeit either its natural first-round draft pick if it made the playoffs, or its second- and third-round picks if it did not.

But more costly than the fines was the hit taken by Belichick and the Patriots’ legacy.

Suddenly, teams New England had defeated in the past came forward, making more accusations of wrongdoing. Members of the Philadelphia Eagles, who lost Super Bowl XXIX to the Patriots, wondered where there championship rings were, claiming they were the rightful winners of the game.

Others said New England may have scrambled the radio signal on opponents’ coach-to-quarterback system, or wired up their own defensive players on the field to hear quarterbacks giving directions at the line of scrimmage.

The Patriots’ players, especially those who had been part of the team’s championships, were stung by the accusations.

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who did not speak in the days immediately following the investigation and punishment announcement, unloaded after New England’s Week Two win over San Diego.

“If you’re on past teams and you’ve got doubts and all these hypotheticals, I’ve got a hypothetical for you: let’s get all the players that played with us and get them back. Then get all the players you had and bring them back on your team. And let’s play again. We would win again, period,” Bruschi said.

Since that time, the Patriots and the Jets have been on wildly divergent paths.

New York has struggled, using two starting quarterbacks behind a weak offensive line. The defense, while improving, has not played the way it did last year, and Mangini has made some questionable calls on the field.

A home overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers three weeks ago is the season’s high point.

New England, however, was seemingly galvanized by the scandal, and the team that was so talented on paper has been dominating on the field. After running their record to 13-0 with a win over the Steelers, the Patriots have a realistic chance of becoming the first team since the 1972 Dolphins to go undefeated in the regular season.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have so little faith in the Jets’ ability to win this week that the Patriots are 23-point favorites. It is the largest spread in NFL history.

Given the way things have turned out since, one has to wonder: if he could get into the DeLorean time machine and go back to the morning of Sept. 9, would Mangini do things differently?

You know who* is comin’ to town | New England Patriots | projo.com | The Providence Journal##

 

It was just like old times
'D' rediscovers its successful formula in win

By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff | December 17, 2007


FOXBOROUGH - The longest-tenured member of the Patriots' defense stood in front of his locker, satisfied with the effort of a unit that allowed just 3 points. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi has experienced different types of victories over his 12-year career with the club, and he agreed that this one had a distinct old-school flavor to it.

Call it a throwback win, delivered by the 'D'.

As the Patriots were rolling to Super Bowl victories in the 2001, 2003, and 2004 seasons, they were a team defined by its defense in many ways. There were certain characteristics that always seemed to show up.

It was bend, but don't break. When teams entered the 20-yard line, the defense usually closed the door.

The defense also dominated in other critical situations, specifically third and fourth down. When it was time to get off the field, as they say in football lingo, they delivered.

And when big plays needed to be made, it was often the biggest stars that made them.

So the question was asked to Bruschi shortly after yesterday's 20-10 victory over the Jets: On a day when the explosive Patriots offense couldn't find its groove, and the defense was relied upon perhaps more than any other game this year, did this one remind him of the good ol' days?

"Maybe a little, maybe a little," he answered. "I think we realized that no matter what it was going to be, it was going to be ugly."

Simply put, the Patriots haven't had to win ugly this season, primarily because the offense has been so lethal. Entering yesterday, it was a fair question to ask if the off-the-charts offensive production was masking problems on the other side of the ball, specifically the run defense following back-to-back subpar efforts.

The defense was called upon to rise up at a few critical times through the first 13 games, most notably against the Colts and Eagles. But the difference in those games was that the offense still took control in key situations.

Not yesterday.

"You kind of get overlooked with the type of offense that we have," cornerback Ellis Hobbs said. "They're a juggernaut, but I think we hold our end also."

In holding down the fort, the Patriots' defense turned to their old formula.

They held the Jets without a touchdown in four trips inside the 20-yard line. They owned the critical situations, limiting New York to 3 of 14 on third down and 1 of 3 on fourth down. Finally, when the big plays were needed, their two biggest-ticket items delivered - defensive lineman Richard Seymour and linebacker Adalius Thomas.

It was Seymour who plowed through the line and forced quarterback Kellen Clemens into an ill-advised, first-quarter throw that Eugene Wilson picked off and returned 5 yards for a touchdown. Seymour previously acknowledged he hasn't been 100 percent since returning from offseason knee surgery, but like the overall defense, he turned back the clock to the time when the words "five-time Pro Bowler" were regularly attached to his name.

In-game statisticians credited Seymour with three quarterback hits and one pass deflection, but that doesn't account for the countless times he seemed to be pressing the pocket, his 6-foot-6-inch, 310-pound frame exploding through an overmatched Jets offensive front.

It's easy to spot an explosive offense, but a bit more challenging to spot an explosive defensive lineman. Seymour played the part yesterday, his signature play the crushing blow on Clemens that knocked him out of the game.

"He's such a dominant force in there and whenever he explodes on someone like that, is able to finish a quarterback like that, you take notice," Bruschi said.

As for Thomas, he finished tied for the team lead with nine tackles, added 1 1/2 sacks, and forced two fumbles. No play was more important than his third-quarter effort, jarring the ball free from Jets tight end Chris Baker. The Jets had just intercepted Tom Brady and were looking to slice into a 17-7 deficit, having advanced to the Patriots' 19.

"He just came in and made a great play," Baker said.

The defense had several of them, holding the Jets to 236 net yards. Tactically, they encountered a unique situation in which different quarterbacks were being shuffled onto the field. After Clemens was knocked out, the Jets introduced a package in which receiver Brad Smith played quarterback and executed a run-based option package.

The option is seldom seen in the NFL, but the Jets felt that playing horizontally and making the Patriots' linebackers move laterally could open seams to exploit. So they sprinkled it in, having Smith replace Chad Pennington from time to time.

"It kind of took you back to college, when Nebraska used to run option quarterbacks," said Thomas, who looked as comfortable as he has all season at outside linebacker in the 3-4 alignment. "Whoever was in the game, it kind of gave you a different type program. It wasn't hard or difficult, but you just had to be aware of who was in the game."

The Patriots had a few breakdowns against the option, but nothing that truly hurt them, the biggest dagger a 49-yard first-quarter run by Leon Washington. And while the Jets strung together an impressive 17-play drive in the fourth quarter, some members of the defense still left Gillette Stadium yesterday feeling as if they'd played their best game of the season.

Linebacker Junior Seau, who tied for the team high with nine tackles and added two sacks, called it a building block. Bruschi pointed to improvements in areas the unit had harped upon, namely in the red zone.

So after 13 weeks in which the offense was so powerful, this was a day for the defense.

"That's what a team is about," Thomas said. "I think our offense has carried us so much, but you need to win in different ways."

Yesterday, the Patriots went the old-school route.

Mike Reiss can be reached at mreiss@globe.com.

http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2007/12/17/it_was_just_like_old_times

The snow must go on

By ERIC McHUGH
The Patriot Ledger


FOXBORO - Best Christmas gift ever? ‘‘I think I was about 7 or 8 years old,’’ Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said Friday. ‘‘I got this portable Donkey Kong game. It was like a little arcade game. It had a little joystick and a hood and you had to look in (to see the screen). I played that for hours and hours until the top broke off and the controller ended up breaking and I couldn’t play it anymore.

‘‘I was rough on toys (in general) but that one I just played until it dropped.’’

The gift that Bruschi presented to Patriots fans four years ago - on Dec. 7, 2003, to be exact - is a little sturdier. In fact, it will never break, never wear out, never wind up in the garbage pail or on a tag-sale card table. It’s a memory, and those always make the best presents.

Pop in that ‘‘3 Games to Glory II’’ DVD (we know you have one; don’t deny it), go to Disc 2 with the bonus features and cue up Game 13 - a 12-0 win over the Dolphins that clinched the AFC East crown. Watch Miami quarterback Jay Fiedler try to throw a quick pass from his own goal line. Watch Bruschi make a leaping interception. Watch him stroll into the end zone from five yards away, go into an exaggerated crouch, drop to his knees and freeze dramatically - arms extended, the ball dangling from his right hand.

Watch the stands erupt with snowballs.

Get chills all over again.

‘‘I’ll remember that play for a long, long time,’’ Bruschi said. ‘‘Trying to hit a quick slant. It wasn’t so much the play, but it was the moment.’’

Not a once-in-a-lifetime moment, apparently. Just last week - another ill-advised throw (this one from Jets QB Kellen Clemens), another five-yard INT return (this one by safety Eugene Wilson), another shower of snowballs. No Gary Glitter’s ‘‘Rock & Roll Part 2’’ this time - he’s banned from NFL stadium play lists because of that child-molestation conviction in Vietnam - but if the soundtrack was lacking, the vibe was still there.

‘‘It was a pretty awesome feeling to see that,’’ long-snapper Lonie Paxton said of the fans’ reaction to Wilson’s score. ‘‘Obviously, you don’t want anyone to get hurt, but visually it’s pretty neat to see that. It brings back a few memories.’’

Wilson said with a grin, comparing his play to Bruschi’s: ‘‘Yeah, when it first happened I thought back to that. That’s pretty cool to look up there (and see it). It’s kind of like fireworks. But it’s snow.

‘‘Does that happen anywhere else?‘‘

Haven’t seen it in a lot of other NFL buildings. Maybe it’s a regional thing. Just another perk of living in these parts at this time of year. (The downside, of course, is shoveling your driveway over and over again, but, hey, we’re talking purely in football terms here.) From the ‘‘Snowplow Game’’ against the Dolphins in 1982, to Paxton’s snow angel after the playoff win over the Raiders, to the Bruschi/Wilson ‘‘snow throw’’ salutes, a winter wonderland has always served as a nice backdrop to a Patriots victory.

‘‘When you think of vintage New England, you think of the fall and you think of snow,’’ Bruschi said. ‘‘You add snow to one of region’s favorite things to do, which is watch us play, and you get automatic nostalgia. You go out there and get that snow falling down on the ground and you feel like a Patriots victory is going to happen.’’

Let it snow

Rain is in the forecast for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, but snow was everywhere at Gillette Stadium Friday, coating the parking lot and the pedestrian ramps and being shoveled out of the club seats and dumped into the lower bowl of the stadium while the 14-0 Patriots practiced in bone-chilling conditions.

Bruschi’s three boys love this stuff. ‘‘They were born and raised here, so they’re used to it,’’ dad reported. ‘‘They even know the difference between good snowman snow and bad snowman snow - the kind that sticks and the kind that’s just powdery.’’

Bruschi’s grown accustomed white winters, too, even though he had no experience with them before arriving here as a rookie in 1996.

‘‘I was born and raised in California, went to school in Arizona,’’ he said. ‘‘People asked me there where I wanted to get drafted, I said, ‘Someplace close maybe.’ And then I end up in New England. It took me a couple of years to get used to it, but it grows on you. You raise a family here and it turns into home.’’

Home cookin’

Home has been good to him. Four Super Bowl appearances. Three rings. A Pro Bowl nod. Countless memories. The interceptions aren’t coming his way in droves anymore - he’s had just one over the past three seasons - but he led the Pats in tackles last year for the first time in his career and he’s at it again in 2007 with a team-best 89. Not bad for a 34-year-old.

‘‘I think last year when I did it for the first time in my career, I was sort of thinking to myself, man, I can’t believe I hadn’t done that before,’’ Bruschi said. ‘‘There were like four other times I think I finished second.

It felt good (last year) but this year, doing it again, I’m just plugging along. It’s not a particular goal of mine. I just want to go out there and contribute.’’

And win.

Of course, he’s done plenty of that. The Patriots won a record 21 straight games from 2003-04. They could go 19-0 this year. What are the odds that one franchise could pull off that double play?

‘‘Well, we have a lot of the same characters here, a lot of the same players, a lot of the same coaches,’’ he said. ‘‘You’re plugging along with the same formula and you know the formula works and it’s all geared toward winning football. Knowing that we have the experience, that we’ve done that before, helps us this year.’’

The perfect ending?

This could be Bruschi’s swan song. Provided the Patriots close the deal in Glendale, Ariz., next month, what better way to go out, right? Talk about a best-case scenario for a guy whose career was hanging by a thread after his stroke in February 2004.

‘‘I know that it’s been a tough road for me to get back to where I was last year and where I was this year,’’ he said. ‘‘If you had asked me that first year that I came back if I was all the way back, at that point I don’t know what I would have told you. But reflecting on it now, I’ll tell you, no, there were a lot of things I still had to work out, emotionally and mentally. But now to be back, my third year back, knowing that I’m making a contribution, yes, it feels good.’’

Good enough to come back for more? Well, he’ll cross that bridge when he comes to it. Right now there are teeth-chattering practices to attend and back yard snow forts to build.

He had opportunities to walk away, to find warmer climates in which to ply his trade. But, ironically, gloves and knit hats and scarves and, yes, snowball showers, can warm the soul sometimes.

‘‘I’ve had this philosophy regarding switching teams and players going into free agency and looking for greener pastures,’’ Bruschi said.

The philosophy is simple: If you can’t see the pasture because it’s blanketed with snow, it’s plenty green for him.

Copyright 2007 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Saturday, December 22, 2007

http://ledger.southofboston.com/articles/2007/12/22/sports/sports02.txt

 

Either way, this game is history
Pats’ win would be perfect, but loss would be Giant news
By John Tomase / Patriots Beat | Saturday, December 29, 2007 | http://www.bostonherald.com | N.E. Patriots


FOXBORO -- Tedy Bruschi put the question to a reporter, and at first the answer seemed obvious.

“Will this game be remembered more if we win or lose?” he asked.

The knee-jerk reaction, of course, was that it will be remembered more if the Patriots [team stats] win. A victory over the Giants tonight cements the Pats’ place as the only 16-0 team in NFL history. They immediately vault to the top of any “greatest ever” list, and should they finish things off with a Super Bowl crown in six weeks, that would pretty much seal their legacy beyond a shadow of a doubt.

But former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino brought up an interesting point while filming HBO’s “Inside the NFL” this week. He noted that more fans ask him about beating the Bears in 1985 than any other game in his career, which included a Super Bowl and a then-record 48 touchdown passes.

Bruschi is one of the people who remembers that game like it was yesterday. He was an 11-year-old living in northern California when the Dolphins shocked the powerhouse Bears, 38-24, on “Monday Night Football,” the only blemish in Chicago’s 15-1 season.

“As a kid, that’s one game I remember watching,” he said. “I was in my parents’ room and you could feel the excitement coming out of the screen. It’s something I was glued to. This game, this week, it’s weird that, wow, I remember watching that one as a kid.”

The point is clear. Ask even a hardcore fan whom the Dolphins beat to go 14-0 in 1972, and odds are you’ll get a blank stare (for the record, they shut out the Baltimore Colts, 16-0).

But ask who ended runs at perfection by those ’85 Bears, the 1998 Broncos, or the 2005 Colts and odds are much better you’ll be told the Dolphins, Giants and Chargers, respectively.

The Giants downplayed talk this week of having a chance to make history.

“I’ve been asked a million times about these kind of questions,” said Giants coach Tom Coughlin. “Quite frankly, they don’t sit well with me. I don’t think that way. I don’t have that -- maybe that’s something missing in me. I don’t think like that. I think you prepare, as I said, and you realize all these factors.

“You have a team that’s No. 1 on offense, No. 4 on defense, playing extremely well, has veterans, has young players, has exceptional talent at a lot of different spots. They’re outstanding on special teams, have good returners, have a quarterback that’s playing as well as anybody’s ever played it -- you’ve got all of these factors going on and yet we’re the 16th team on the schedule for the Patriots and we’re excited about having an opportunity to line up on Saturday night.”

Giants quarterback Eli Manning was a little more enthusiastic about the chance the Giants were being given.

“It would definitely help just knowing that you’re playing a good team and having the opportunity to end on a high note,” Manning said. “It does matter for (the Patriots). They’re going for a great opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done before.”

The NFL thinks highly enough of the game to simulcast it on CBS, NBC and the NFL Network, with Ch. 5 additionally showing it locally.

“I never even dreamed or thought of that, because I didn’t think it would be possible,” Bruschi said. “I think it’s great what the NFL Network has done, putting this on every channel so everybody can see it, because it’s an important game. It’s an opportunity to achieve something that’s never been done before.”

Or to stop it. That could end up being even bigger news.

“As much as it’s an opportunity for us to be 16-0, it’s an opportunity for them to knock off a 15-0 team,” Bruschi said. “So on the flip side, either way, it’s going to be a memorable game.”

Either way, this game is history - BostonHerald.com

 

News and Notes:

Tough stuff
In his 12th NFL season and eighth under Belichick, linebacker Tedy Bruschi told New York media that Belichick has coached the team "harder this year than he has ever done in previous years." Bruschi also said he felt it was Belichick's best coaching job, in part "because of all the distractions that he has had."

"And with every distraction that he has had, he has come through it stronger," Bruschi added. "He has coached us harder and I think that is him saying, 'I can only worry about one thing, and that is how I prepare this team.' He is not worrying about outside factors and he has done a great job of that this year and he has continued to take that maybe as motivation to just continue to be the best coach that he possibly can be and prepare his team as hard as we can work."

Brady finally acknowledges history - The Boston Globe

 

Ho, ho, huh? Belichick cover Claus for curiosity
By Karen Guregian | Friday, December 28, 2007 | http://www.bostonherald.com | N.E. Patriots


FOXBORO - At first, Rodney Harrison pretended to have no interest. But then, the curiosity got the best of him.

Bill Belichick, in a Santa suit?

Before long, the Patriots  safety was asking around to all the reporters standing at his locker, trying to find a copy of the latest Sports Illustrated.

It’s not often your coach graces the cover of SI dressed as jolly old St. Nick. Especially a coach who serves up huge helpings of humble pie every week.

The magazine, which has featured Tom Brady , Randy Moss and the veteran Pats linebacking corps on its cover already this season, chose to depict Belichick as Santa on the front of its “Year in Sports” issue, superimposing a red suit over his usual gray hoodie.

“I guess I might have to buy one now,” linebacker Junior Seau said with a smile.

Tedy Bruschi  was one of the few who saw the cover of the grouchy Santa Belichick.

“It was funny seeing coach Belichick in the Santa hat and everything with his usual frown,” Bruschi said. “I thought it was humorous. Did you ask him about it?”

Bruschi was told Belichick claimed to love being on the cover - even in Santa garb - because it’s something kids dream about.

“I’m sure he did,” the linebacker said. “That’s one he can keep.”

Belichick, who had never been on the magazine’s cover, did, in fact, get a kick out of the SI portrayal.

“Being associated with Santa Claus, there is a lot worse associations to have. So I’ll take it,” he said. “When you’re a kid, sometimes you dream about being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. That’s not actually the one I pictured, but it’s pretty funny. Whatever sells.”

It was the Pats’ 17th SI cover since February 2002 (including commemorative issues) and the 21st in franchise history.

Ho, ho, huh? Belichick cover Claus for curiosity - BostonHerald.com

Friday, December 28, 2007 12:14 AM EST
Linebacker Tedy Bruschi says the Patriots will have their hands full with the Giants running game.

Bruschi says team focusing on Giants, not making history

BY MARK FARINELLA / SUN CHRONICLE STAFF


FOXBORO - Thursday was Amateur Day at Gillette Stadium, at least where the media was concerned.

With the focus of the entire nation now affixed upon the coming clash of the undefeated Patriots and the 10-5 New York Giants Saturday night at Giants Stadium (8:15 p.m.; NFL Network, Chs. 4, 5, 7, 10, 12), several "media" outlets from the greater New York metropolitan area descended upon the stadium to ask questions that - to them, at least - were being asked for the first time anywhere.

Tedy Bruschi took a deep breath, embraced the "grin-and-bear-it" approach, and politely answered the first question about being on the verge of completing an unbeaten regular season and heading into the playoffs.

"We're not thinking about the playoffs right now," the veteran linebacker said. "Instead of thinking about how we got here, we're just thinking about the opponent we've got in front of us, and it's a formidable one in the New York Giants."

Focus has been very important to the Patriots this year, either in dealing with the media hordes or dealing with their 16 opponents. And as Bruschi said Thursday, that focus started at the top and filtered its way through the entire roster.

"I think Coach (Bill) Belichick has had great focus this year," Bruschi said. "If there has been any year in which players and coaches alike can lose focus, it's when you've had a lot of success. When you get to 12-0, 13-0, 14-0, 15-0, it's easy to maybe get complacent. But I haven't seen any of that in Coach this year or any of that in his staff. They've just put their nose down and focused on what's next.

"The example has started from Bill and his coaches of how focused they've been," he said. "Here we are, we're 15-0 and you wouldn't know it. You wouldn't know it from the coaches by the way they continue to coach us hard, and it just helps us realize what's next."

Bruschi was asked if the intense focus of the coaching staff stemmed in part from the national embarrassment of the "Spygate" controversy following the season opener against the Jets.

"Maybe if I had more time to think about that, I could give you a better answer," he said. "We're all in the middle of it right now, but what's really given us motivation is just to win another game. To win another game would bring us to 16-0, and that's definitely enough motivation right now."

Bruschi also suggested that focus has been easier to maintain inside the Patriots' inner sanctum because of the many battle-tested veterans who call it home.

"I think the experience helps in terms of focus," he said. "We do have some young guys in here and we've had some success this year, so starting with the veterans, we can relay the message of just focusing on what's next, the task at hand, and not worry about the success we've had, because 'had' is past tense, and we want to continue to have."

Bruschi said the Patriots will have their hands full Saturday night with a Giants' squad that can run the ball with authority - as it proved last weekend by rushing for 291 yards against Buffalo.

"They're a great running team and they had a lot of success last week," he said, They've got three very capable backs led by (Brandon) Jacobs, and the offensive line is very good at getting hat on hat. So he can hit those holes and we've got to do a great job around them

"There are some guys that we respect out there on the defensive side of the ball that aren't able to run (Jacobs) down, and that's a great indicator for us of how much speed he actually has," he added.

Bruschi said that despite the Patriots' 15-0 record, their defense hasn't been perfect this year - and that the need for improvement has been understood and addressed.

"Every week, we've shown progress," he said. "But then we lost Rosey (Colvin), so we had to do a little bit of re-shuffling there, linebacker-wise, conceptually-wise. What I'm really encouraged about is the production we've shown in the red zone the last few weeks, that we've been able to move up from the bottom I think that's something that we're happy about, that we've had some fourth-down stops. That can really boost our confidence.

"That's the bottom-line stat: Do you let them score," Bruschi asked. "They can get down inside the 25 or down inside your 10, but do you let them in? And then, do you keep them out totally or hold them to a field goal attempt? Those are goals that we have and what we're thinking about when they're down there."

MARK FARINELLA may be reached at 508-236-0315 or via e-mail at mfarinel@thesunchronicle.com

The Sun Chronicle Online - Sports

Pride, relief are among emotions
By Amalie Benjamin, Globe Staff | December 30, 2007


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - They had done a passable job of ignoring the issue, shunting any sense of perfection with a claim of ignorance. Or a studied refusal to be a part of the questioning and the hype and the excitement that surrounds a team gunning for history. The Patriots knew they were on the path. Everyone knew they were on the path. It's difficult to pretend to not remember that their team hadn't lost this season.

But last night, as the score reached the point of no return, and as the home fans emptied out of Giants Stadium, there no longer needed to be such antics. Perfection means a lot. Not everything - a Super Bowl win would complete that - but it meant this team and its components won't ever be forgotten. Suddenly, it was time to admit it all.

"All I can tell you is how I feel right now, and how we feel in this locker room," said Tedy Bruschi, his voice softening slightly, in the wake of the Patriots' 38-35 win over the Giants to cap a 16-0 regular season, the first in NFL history. "I can try to describe to you how I feel and, right now, all I can describe it as is a tremendous sense of team accomplishment. How can I describe that feeling to you? I can't right now. I just can't."

The on-field celebration was muted after the unsuccessful onside kick by the Giants that ended all chances of an upset. Some players poured out from the Patriots benches, there were quite a few hugs and high-fives (including an embrace of former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis by coach Bill Belichick), but little else. No Gatorade baths or champagne. This, of course, is not the end for this team.

"Yeah, it's good. It is good," offensive lineman Matt Light said. "And I think we're going to enjoy it here for about 10 hours. We're going to wake up tomorrow morning, we're going to realize we have a lot of football left.

"I think everybody puts that [16-0] as one of their goals. Usually you're happy when you win more than you lose. For us to do this and stay this focused, these guys make such big plays throughout the year. It was just a total team accomplishment."

Relief, too, emerged. With the pressure mounting, both from the outside and internally, the Patriots had begun to let themselves think about perfection in the past week. They had, as Bruschi said, "let it in a little." That might have made this the toughest of the 16, with an assist from the Giants. The toughest to explain, too.

"When you walk away from the game, you say, 'That's special,' " defensive lineman Richard Seymour said. "Right now, I don't know. I think it has to set in a little more. I think I may have to go home and watch it on TV. It was never a goal of ours to go 16-0. But to do it along the way, it definitely feels great.

"I don't know how to really put it in perspective at this point right now. I think it's something when you walk away from the game, one day, that you can look back upon and say, 'That was a special team.' Right now I don't know how to look at it."

When asked if he ever had dreamed about completing a perfect regular season, if he ever had imagined it, safety Rodney Harrison became incredulous.

"Are you kidding me?" he asked. He'd said more than enough.

So, while each player put a different time limit on the celebration - Light gave it 10 hours, Bruschi two days - it was clear those who had played a part on the field this season all still were processing, still realizing what they had done. Hard to explain, really, when it was just half an hour old.

But there will be time for that. Maybe it indeed won't happen until they're all retired. It undoubtedly will, though. And the best news for the Patriots is that there is no game next weekend. Two weeks - and then they return to the search for postseason perfection.

"I think I'm glad the regular season is over, to tell you the truth," Bruschi said. "I think this is the most advantageous bye week in the history that we've had. It's an extra week for us to forget about what we've accomplished. As good as we are about suppressing success, this one's tough."

Pride, relief among emotions flowing in Patriots' locker room - The Boston Globe


Courant.com
Perfect, To A Fault
Belichick On Patriots: 'We Can Do Better'


By DAVID HEUSCHKEL
Courant Staff Writer
December 31, 2007



Patriots coach Bill Belichick never publicly criticizes his players. He chooses to do it in private.

"I'm telling you, the way we're coached it sometimes feels like we lost," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "That's how hard we were coached all year by the coaches, and especially Coach Belichick. If we won, we'd come in the next day and we did this well but there was a big 'but.' After that 'but,' we went over all the negatives. It seemed like that would last twice as long or sometimes three times as long [as the positives]."

The approach has worked to perfection this season. But the Patriots' 16-0 record doesn't matter with the playoffs looming.

The Patriots aren't looking beyond Thursday, when the team resumes practice.

"We know what the situation is in the playoffs. We've been there before. Lose and go home, win and keep playing," Belichick said Sunday. "It's all one-game seasons now. Everybody is aware of that. We'll have to have a good week of preparation and prepare to play well against our next opponent, whoever that is. But we know that team is one of the best teams in the league. So it will be a huge challenge for us."

The Patriots, who have a first-round bye, will play Pittsburgh, Jacksonville or Tennessee at home Jan. 12 at 8 p.m.

Belichick was going to wait until the AFC playoff bracket was complete before studying film of potential opponents. Breaking down the film of Saturday night's 38-35 victory over the Giants was another task.

The Patriots did not play particularly well on defense. The 35 points were the most by an opponent this season. The Giants scored touchdowns on all four red-zone possessions and were 6 of 10 on third down. The special teams allowed a 74-yard touchdown on a kickoff return.

"There are plenty of things in the game that we can improve on and we can do better," Belichick said. "That's in all three phases of the game, but certainly defensively. When you give up 35 points on defense and special teams, that's not where you want to be. That's not going to win every game for you in this league, that's for sure."

When the Patriots assemble in the film room, Bruschi will see what was wrong with his tackle technique when he allowed Giants running back Brandon Jacobs to bounce off him at the 5-yard line after catching a short pass and take it in for the touchdown.

But there were plenty of positives, starting with quarterback Tom Brady, who helped rally the team from a 28-16 deficit in the third quarter. He completed 32 of 42 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns, including a 65-yard strike to Randy Moss that gave the Patriots a 31-28 lead with 11:06 remaining. On that play, Brady and Moss set NFL records for the most touchdown passes (50) and TD receptions (23) in a season.

"Tom has done a great job for us ever since he's been here. He is a terrific quarterback," Belichick said. "There is no quarterback I'd rather have and I have all of the respect in the world for Tom and what he has done. And I congratulate him on the things that he's accomplished individually this year in terms of some records and so forth. I think he'd be the first one to tell you, and I'd second it, is the main thing is the [team's] record and the team's performance and that is what he is most concerned about."

Wes Welker had a game-high 11 receptions, giving him a franchise-record 112 this season. Seven of his catches against the Giants picked up a first down, including a 12-yard reception on third-and-9 on a touchdown drive that pushed the lead to 38-28 with 4:46 left. That score was set up by Ellis Hobbs' interception near midfield.

Patriots running back Kevin Faulk had a season-high eight receptions, none bigger than a 13-yard pass from Brady on third-and-11 with 8:24 remaining to move the chains and keep the clock running.

There was a 15-yard completion from Brady to tight end Benjamin Watson to extend a drive that culminated with Laurence Maroney's 6-yard touchdown run that cut the deficit to 28-23 with 4:06 left in the third quarter.

Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas made a big play on the ensuing possession, sacking Eli Manning for a 14-yard loss to set up third-and-22. The Giants were forced to punt.

Not to be overlooked was the play of rookie Brandon Meriweather, who had four tackles on special teams.

After the Giants scored a touchdown to cut the deficit to three with 1:04 remaining, Mike Vrabel recovered the ensuing onside kick.

It was the fourth time the Patriots came back to win after trailing in the fourth quarter. And each time they were able to make plays, both on offense and defense, at critical times.

"I think it certainly starts with preparation," Belichick said, "and being able to do it on the practice field and in meetings and walk-throughs and identifying the situations and everybody knowing what to do so that when it does come up, you can execute the play."

Contact David Heuschkel at

dheuschkel@courant.com.

Perfect, To A Fault -- Courant.com

 

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