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2007 Post Season

Click here for entire Bruschi Article Archive

Unsung Bruschi epitomizes great linebacker play


Lesley Visser Jan. 7, 2008
By Lesley Visser
CBS Sports


Is there such a thing as an unsung superstar? I offer New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi. He has been in the league 12 years, won three Super Bowls, been to the Pro Bowl, yet most people think of him as, "Oh yeah, the guy who had the stroke."

He might even be the best No. 54 in the NFL. There is Zach Thomas, who has had an outstanding career with the Miami Dolphins but has never been to a Super Bowl. There is Brian Urlacher, who lost the Super Bowl last year with the Bears. And there is Hall of Famer Randy White, the defensive end who was the co-MVP of Super Bowl XII when Dallas beat Denver.

"I never think about something like that," said Bruschi. "My entire career has been thinking about tomorrow. What do I have to do to get better tomorrow?"

Like every fan, Bruschi watched the Pittsburgh-Jacksonville game on television. But unlike every fan, he was trying to figure out how to personally stop Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.

"They're a terrific one-two punch," he said. "Jones-Drew is small and compact, hiding behind the line, then he pops out somewhere. And I voted for Fred Taylor to go to the Pro Bowl. He still has take-it-to-the-house speed."

Bruschi, who knows the Patriots have struggled stopping the run, said the Jaguars have another interesting aspect to their running game.

"They rotate the running backs, so they're always fresh," he said. "They try to wear down the defense, so it's double the challenge. They're a tremendous threat and they're always ready to go."

Bruschi said he's typical of a Bill Belichick linebacker.

"Bill wants smart, tough, low-to-the-ground linebackers," he said. "It's a philosophical tree -- from Bill Parcells to Bill Belichick to Romeo Crennel. My coach, Pepper Johnson, has us look at film of the Giants' linebackers -- Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson, Carl Banks, and Pep. Coach Belichick wants it done the same way."

He even said -- are you sitting down? -- Belichick is funny.

"You should hear him in the meetings," said Bruschi. "He'll say something kind of quietly, and it may take a second to get it, but then you burst out laughing."

Former Patriots linebacker Steve Nelson said Bruschi has what all great linebackers have.

"A lot of people think being a linebacker is about technique," he said, "square your shoulders, keep your head up. But it's really about getting a guy to the ground. That's what Tedy Bruschi does."

Bruschi quickly agreed.

"That's absolutely right," he said. "Being a great linebacker is about instinct and tackling. First you need a sense of where the running back is going, and then you have to bring him down."

Bruschi didn't even play football until his freshman year in high school. Raised in a tough section of San Francisco, of Filipino and Italian descent, he only played pickup games in the street. When his family moved to Roseville, outside Sacramento, he began to play organized football.

At the University Arizona, he tied an NCAA record for sacks when he played for Dick Tomey's famed "Desert Swarm."

But his greatest challenge came two days after the Pro Bowl in 2005, when Bruschi felt numbness down the left side of his body and couldn't see his son out of his left eye.

"I knew something was wrong," he said, "but I never thought it was a stroke. I thought that was something that happened to your grandparents."

More than 750,000 people a year have a stroke, according to the American Heart Association. With the help of his wife, Heidi, and their three sons, Bruschi was careful and consistent about his rehabilitation.

In an emotional day for everyone, Bruschi made his first public appearance in April 2005, when the Red Sox asked him, along with Bill Russell and Bobby Orr, to throw out a ceremonial pitch when the Red Sox received their 2004 World Series rings. He wore No. 47 as a tribute to Terry Francona.

"Terry also went to Arizona," said Bruschi, "and throughout my recovery, he called me every week."

Bruschi, 100 percent recovered, was cleared to play Oct. 30, 2005, against the Buffalo Bills. At Gillette Stadium that night, it was the loudest ovation he'd ever heard.

"I'm proud to be a stroke survivor," Bruschi said. "I hope I can be a symbol to others."

"His greatest asset is his leadership," said Brad Blank, his well-respected Boston agent. Bruschi had always represented himself, but after the stroke, he hired Blank. "Tedy understands the responsibility of helping other people."

Bruschi is nothing if not a competitor.

"I can't wait for this game," he said. "Jacksonville reminds me of us. They're hard-nosed, physical and tough. Jack Del Rio is like a Bill Cowher or a Bill Belichick. They'll be ready and so will we. And I hope the conditions are brutal. I love to play in bad weather."

Persistence helped Bruschi reach top | New England Patriots | projo.com | The Providence Journal#####

Bruschi’s road long, worthwhile
By Steve Buckley | Wednesday, January 9, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com | N.E. Patriots
Photo
Photo by Matthew West

FOXBORO - It’s always good form when a professional athlete stands in front of his locker and tosses out a lot of obligatory smack about how it’s all about the team, that he just wants to contribute, and, of course, that winning a championship is all that matters.

But it’s not always true. When you’re young and inexperienced and still a little vague about how to get from the parking lot to the locker room, it’s only natural that other things are going to be on your mind.

You want to fit in. You want to stay in, hoping you’ll make the team. Maybe your new coach wants you to learn a new position.

Case in point: Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

Let’s roll the Wayback Machine to the summer of 1996. This was before Bruschi played in four Super Bowls, winning three. This was before he became a local football icon, respected by fans and media, teammates and opponents. This was before his personal struggles were pressed into print via a best-selling book written in concert with Michael Holley.

This was back when Bruschi couldn’t find his way from the parking lot to the locker room.

OK, perhaps that’s an exaggeration. But not by much.

“Yeah, my goal back then was to learn to play linebacker,” Bruschi said yesterday at Gillette Stadium. “Coming out of college and being a defensive lineman, never taking a hook-drop in my life, coach (Al) Groh asked me to drop to the hook, and I asked him where that was. I knew I had a long way to go, so I think that was my first and foremost step coming into the league.

“The other goal I had was (to) keep myself on the team as best (as) I could with what I could do, being a third-down pass-rusher and playing special teams. As I continued to learn to play linebacker . . . I said, ‘OK, let’s take it to the next level.’ ”

And what would that be?

“Now, I just want to keep winning and winning,” he said. “My motivation right now is winning. I have no other goals right now other than winning a championship.

“The playoffs have to be your final goal. You get to the tournament to win. There are only a handful of teams that deserve to be there, and each round you progress, that means your final goal is closer and closer.”

How could you not believe him? He is way, way past the days of learning his way around, of learning a new position. He no longer must worry about making the team. And the betting here is that there is some money in the bank, some financial security for his family, ridding himself of yet another issue that worries many young players.

Incredibly, Bruschi has played in 19 playoff games. If the Pats make it back to the Super Bowl, it’ll be 22.

After all these years, does he get them mixed up?

“Sometimes,” he said. “I’ll ask, ‘What year was that?’ We’ve had a lot of success here, but I can still point out plays and what the weather was like and where we were and what were the game-changing plays in certain games.”

He is our postseason expert, our playoff king. Nineteen playoff games. That’s one entire NFL regular season plus three games. And let’s be honest: The man’s career is winding down. If he makes it to another Super Bowl, it’s not unfair to wonder if it’ll be his last.

“I didn’t use it as motivation because when somebody would say, ‘Hey Tedy, you’re getting old,’ I’d say, ‘Yes, I am,’ ” he said. “I’m 34-years old, and I’m still playing linebacker in the NFL. I’m a realist, also. I’m not 24 anymore.

“But I know this one thing, and I’ve always known this, that I can play football. Football is what I’m meant to do, and I know that I’m still good at it.”

Bruschi’s road long, worthwhile - BostonHerald.com

 

Patriots' Bruschi expected to 'spy' on Garrard


Jan. 9, 2008


David Garrard’s 32-yard scamper to set up Josh Scobee’s game-winning field goal in the Jaguars’ victory over the Steelers last week confirmed what Patriots defenders already knew: Garrard runs well. Just how well is something the Pats will make a concerted effort to avoid finding out. As they’ve done in the past against mobile quarterbacks, we hear the Patriots are likely to employ a “spy” technique — having a defender shadow Garrard whenever he has the ball. While instinctive S Rodney Harrison seems to be a natural candidate for the role given the likelihood that New England’s cornerbacks can handle Jacksonville’s receivers one-on-one, look instead for ILB Tedy Bruschi to assume spy duties. For starters, Bruschi has historically been tabbed for the position. Secondly, CB Ellis Hobbs insinuated on Monday that the defensive backs won’t be responsible for containing Garrard when he escapes the pocket. “Obviously, you try to contain (him) and try to immobilize him, making him one-dimensional,” Hobbs said. “The main focus (of the secondary) is not worry about that. That’s not our job. The up-front guys, they’ll take care of that.” Of note is that the Patriots haven’t faced a legitimate running quarterback this season. The last time they did face one, in Week 17 last season, they gave up 29 yards — including a 28-yard TD jaunt — on two carries to the Titans’ Vince Young. They previous week, they held Garrard to 11 yards on two carries.

http://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW/NFL/AFC/AFC+East/New+England/WWHI/2007/wwhi010908.htm

Persistence helped Bruschi reach top

Thursday, January 10, 2008

BY ROBERT LEE
Journal Sports Writer



FOXBORO — Tedy Bruschi never dreamed of being a Pro Bowl linebacker when he came out of the University of Arizona in 1996.

He didn’t even play linebacker for the Wildcats. He was a defensive tackle. But with a lot of hard work, Bruschi, a third-round choice by the Patriots (86th overall), became one of the top linebackers in the NFL , and one of the most well-known Patriots linebackers in team history.

“Yeah, my goal back then was to learn to play linebacker,” Bruschi said. “Coming out of college and being a defensive lineman, never taking a hook-drop in my life, coach [Al] Groh asked me to drop to the hook and I asked him where that was. I knew I had a long way to go, so I think that was my first and foremost step coming into the league, and then the other goal I had was [to] keep myself on the team as best [as] I could with what I could do, being a third-down pass rusher and playing special teams.

“Then, as I continued to learn to play that linebacker position and I realized that I could do that, I said, OK, let’s take it to the next level, and the next level, and now I’m to the level where I know I can play. Now I just want to keep winning and winning.”

Bruschi finished the regular season as the Patriots’ leader in tackles for the second consecutive season.

After amassing 124 tackles last season (67 solo), Bruschi has been credited by the Patriots’ coaching staff with 99 tackles (69 solo) this year. Since the beginning of the 2003 season, no Patriot has recorded more tackles than Bruschi, who has more than 560 during that span (including the playoffs).

He has averaged more than 111 tackles per season over the last five seasons.

New England head coach Bill Belichick has watched Bruschi grow from a rookie to a Pro Bowl selection (2005) during his career.

“He’s been great for this organization,” Belichick said. “I was here the first year that Tedy was here in ’96 when we drafted him, and it’s a great story. [He] played defensive line in college, [was] converted as a linebacker, played on special teams and then rushed the passer a little bit early in his career and then converted to being an inside linebacker. He’s gotten a lot of recognition for what he’s done at that position.

“It’s a difficult transition, probably one of the hardest to make, but he’s made it, made it well, and he’s been exemplary for us in every phase of the game — on the field, defensively, on special teams. Off the field, he’s been elected a captain pretty much every year since I’ve been here. He’s one of the most respected players on this team [and] in the league, and he’s been one of the best players in this organization.

“[We’ve] won a lot of games with him out there on the field. He’s done a lot of different things for us. He has great versatility and leadership and determination. A lot of guys didn’t think he had the skills to play in this league. He’s certainly proved all of them wrong.”

Return to health

Several Patriots got healthy during the team’s bye week. Starting right tackle Nick Kaczur (foot), starting right guard Stephen Neal (shoulder) and tight end Kyle Brady (foot) have all been practicing this week.

Kaczur missed the regular-season finale against the Giants. Neal has been sidelined for four games and Brady was absent for the final two regular-season contests.

It would be a big lift if they are able to play on Saturday night because the Patriots’ offensive line will be challenged when it faces a Jaguars team that ranks 12th overall in yards allowed (313.8), 11th in rush defense (100.3), 15th in pass defense (213.5) and 10th in points allowed (19.0).

“It’s a big challenge for us,” said offensive lineman Logan Mankins, who was sporting New England’s newest T-shirt, which read, “As hairy as we want to be,” featuring the Patriots’ bearded offensive lineman, that is for sale at www.todayschamps.com. The proceeds will go to the Matt Light Foundation.

“[Jacksonville has] got big guys. They’re solid against the run and they’re solid against the pass. [We] have to try to crease them in the running game and [we] have to hold up in the passing game.”

Tight end Stephen Spach (knee) and cornerback Antwain Spann (hamstring) were the only Patriots who did not practice yesterday.

Jacksonville defensive tackles John Henderson (hamstring) and Grady Jackson (knee) didn’t practice.

Learning from Steelers

Belichick said yesterday the Patriots learned a lot about what Jacksonville will do against New England’s 3-4 defense by watching film of the Steelers game, because the Steelers also play a 3-4 defense.

“For us, we could see a lot more from the Pittsburgh game than some other teams they play,” Belichick said. “Pittsburgh plays it a little bit differently than we do, but still, that being said, there’s certainly some things that we can learn from that game.”

roblee@projo.com

http://www.projo.com/patriots/content/sp_fbn_patsjo10_01-10-08_248IBI3_v6.24303e6.html

 

Patriots refuse to lose focus in spotlight
 

Thursday, January 10, 2008

By JIM DONALDSON
Journal Sports Writer




FOXBORO — Keep it simple.

That, say the three-time, Super Bowl champion Patriots — who certainly ought to know — is the key to winning a pressure-packed, one-and-done, lose-and-you-go-home, NFL playoff game.

“I’ve always believed,” Pats linebacker Tedy Bruschi said this week, “that when you have games that get bigger and bigger in magnitude, you have to break them down to their simplest form.”

Veteran defensive end Richard Seymour agreed.

“The pace picks up in the playoffs,” he said. “Every play is magnified. You never know which play is going to be the big one, and you never want to be the guy who doesn’t take care of your responsibilities.

“In situations like this, the best thing you can do is just simplify the game. Take your responsibility, do your job, and, hopefully, the guy beside you takes that same approach.”

It may be simple, but it’s not easy.

It requires a focus that is difficult to attain, and even more difficult to maintain.

Longtime PGA Tour player Brad Faxon has often said: “You have to putt as if it doesn’t matter if you miss.”

Which, in theory, is absolutely correct. In practice, however, it can be all but impossible to do — especially if, for example, a golfer has a 6-foot putt to win The Masters. You’d better believe it matters then, and there’s almost no way to block that knowledge out.

In the blocking-and-tackling business of professional football, emotions and nerves have to be kept in check when so much is on the line; when one play — one mistake — can mean the difference between victory and defeat, between going home or advancing to the next playoff game.

“You realize the finality of the playoffs,” said Bruschi. “You realize that, if you don’t have good preparation, and you don’t play well on game day, that’s it.

“It comes down to the preparation from day-to-day, up to that game — what quarter is it in, what situation is it in, what down is this, and what are the team’s tendencies on that down. What are my responsibilities?

“If I just break it down that simply, it helps me forget about the magnitude of ‘if we lose, the season’s over.’ I just focus on how to win and how to beat the opponent.

“Because of that,” Bruschi continued, “you dive headfirst into your preparation. You’ll watch more film, you’ll pay a little bit more attention. It’s in the back of your mind that this is the playoffs and, if you don’t win, the season is over, so you dive into your preparation even more. You take it home with you, you do whatever you can — it’s all you focus on, every single minute of your day.”

Bruschi and his teammates walk a fine line in that regard because, while they want to focus intensely, they also want to be “loose” on the field — they don’t want to feel “uptight” during the game.

“You can’t put pressure on yourself because it’s a playoff game,” said running back Kevin Faulk, who, like Bruschi and Seymour, has played on all three of New England’s Super Bowl championship teams.

“You have to be mature enough,” Faulk said, “to understand what’s at stake but, at the same time, understand that you have to play a football game.”

Seymour understands that perfectly.

“You can’t come in and be tense, be tight, not have fun,” he said. “This is something you work for all year long. This is one of the reasons that you play this game — to be in situations like this, to have great opportunities.”

The 16-0 Patriots have the opportunity to join the 1972 Miami Dolphins as only the second team ever to finish as undefeated, NFL champions, and the first to go 19-0.

But they’re not thinking about the Super Bowl right now. Nor are they entertaining thoughts of a possible rematch with the defending champion Colts in the AFC Championship Game next weekend.

That kind of thinking only complicates matters. Instead, they are thinking simply — and only — about the Jaguars. They will approach the playoffs, not just one game at a time, nor even one quarter at a time, but one play at a time.

“You just do your job, whatever it may be,” linebacker Adalius Thomas said. “Your job doesn’t change, just because it’s the playoffs.”

The Patriots know the task ahead of them. More importantly, they understand how to get the job done.

“We’ve put ourselves in a great position to finish our goal,” said Seymour, “and Saturday night will be our first step.”

They’ve walked this road before. They know the route to success.

Simply put, don’t expect the Patriots to trip themselves up.

jdonalds@projo.com

Patriots refuse to lose focus in spotlight | New England Patriots | projo.com | The Providence Journal####

U of A's Bruschi a true Patriot

Doug Haller
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 11, 2008 12:00 AM
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - He entered the league with concern. Not so much about talent, but position.

Tedy Bruschi was a 6-foot-1, 242-pound defensive end at the University of Arizona, a fierce pass rusher who tied the then-Division I-A career sacks record set by former Alabama standout Derrick Thomas.

But in 1996, he was too small to play along an NFL defensive front - and that was fine, former New England Patriots coach Bill Parcells told him. "You're going to play linebacker."

"I sort of chuckled," Bruschi recalled Thursday, "because I really didn't know how to do it. So my first expectations were learning how to make the team, learning how to play linebacker and doing what I could do to stay on the field (through special teams and as a third-down rusher)."

The unbeaten Patriots enter Saturday's AFC divisional playoff game against Jacksonville polished and poised. Their experience isn't just a strength, it's their guiding force. And much of that starts with Bruschi, a 12-year veteran who has played in three Super Bowls.

"It's a great story," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said this week. "(Bruschi's) gotten a lot of recognition for what he's done at that position. It's a difficult transition, probably one of the hardest to make, but he's made it, made it well and he's been exemplary for us in every phase of the game."

If you think of the decade's better linebackers - Baltimore's Ray Lewis comes to mind, as do Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks and Miami's Zach Thomas - Bruschi probably belongs in the conversation, not solely for performance but also leadership.

A defensive captain, he led the Patriots in tackles (99 total, 69 solo) for the second consecutive year. He has finished second four times. More impressive, the Patriots are 24-2 when Bruschi records a sack.

"He seems to come up with big plays in big games and he has been a very productive football player for a number of years," Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio said on a conference call with reporters.

When linebacker Pierre Woods arrived from Michigan two years ago, all he knew about Bruschi was the stroke he suffered in 2005. It didn't take long for Woods to see Bruschi's worth to the organization.

"He's taught me how to be a professional," Woods said. "And how to be a leader on and off the field. Be a family man. There are so many things you can learn from Tedy. Just being a jokester and having fun at times, being at ease, and at the same time being serious when it's time to be serious."

Bruschi, 34, has three children, all younger than 7. Asked whether this season's success is important so they might remember this potential Super Bowl run, he shook his head and smiled.

"I sort of have a different philosophy," he said. "I'm sure there will be times when my kids can go back and see stuff and remember it. But I really want them to know me as a regular person. I don't want them to say, 'Yeah, my dad did this or my dad did that.' I want to possibly have them look at me and say, 'Hey, that's just my dad.' "

And then maybe one day he'll tell them about a career that began in Tucson, a place he hasn't forgotten. Bruschi said he often talks with UA coach Mike Stoops, and he's convinced a reversal is coming soon.

"That's a tough geographical area," Bruschi said. "You got Arizona State, UCLA, USC, so I know it's tough to recruit.

"I know it takes a lot of time, but it will come. I think he (Stoops) is doing a great job."

U of A's Bruschi a true Patriot

An age-old question
Does ‘D’ have enough gas in tank?
By Karen Guregian | Friday, January 11, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com | N.E. Patriots


FOXBORO - In sports, age translates into experience. And during the playoffs, that can be an invaluable asset.

Age, however, also can cause concern, which is why the Patriots [team stats] defense faces questions entering tomorrow night’s divisional playoff game against the Jaguars and their second-ranked rushing attack.

How will 38-year-old linebacker Junior Seau and 34-year-old linebacker Tedy Bruschi [stats] - both of whom have taken a full share of snaps since Rosevelt Colvin’s season-ending injury in Week 12 - hold up, especially against Fred Taylor [stats] and Maurice Jones-Drew, the leaders of Jacksonville’s knock-down, drag-out ground game?

The pundits have pointed to the Patriots’ aging linebacking corps since the start of the season. They’ve targeted the unit as one of the team’s few weaknesses.

Toward the end of the regular season, the defense as a whole looked a bit fatigued at times. Issues with poor tackling weren’t all about poor technique, particularly against the Giants and their mammoth back Brandon Jacobs.

The first-round playoff bye surely has helped rest some of the Pats’ weary bodies, but that will only go so far if the Jaguars backs get going behind their massive offensive line.

Seau, who defies his years, believes age is a non-issue.

“We don’t have to say a word (to those worried about our age),” he said. “We just keep playing and keep winning. That takes care of everything else.”

The veteran, who is seeking his first Super Bowl ring, said he has never felt his age out on the field.

“You know, I really haven’t. I don’t think I’ll ever know how,” Seau said. “When you go through the course of a year in the National Football League, you’re going to feel injuries, you’re going to feel pain, you’re going to feel pulled muscles. If that’s age, well yeah, I’ve felt that. But you persevere through those times. Being old is just a number. I hate to allow the world to limit me and put barriers on me as to what I should be doing and how I should be doing at 38.”

According to statistics compiled by the team, Bruschi leads the Patriots in tackles with 99. Seau is fifth with 76. The other two 30-something linebackers, Adalius Thomas (30) and Mike Vrabel (32), were third and fourth with 82 and 77, respectively.

Bruschi claims he hasn’t used the naysayers as motivation. He knows he’s not 24 but also knows he can still play at an effective level.

“I’m sure all of us linebackers, we don’t go out to prove anyone wrong,” Bruschi said yesterday. “We just go out to win football games no matter how we can do it. Whether we answer critics or don’t answer critics, we don’t care.”

The Pats, however, haven’t exactly been the most effective defense against the run this season. They finished 10th overall in rushing yards allowed per game (98.3) and 26th in rushing yards allowed per attempt (4.4).

Safety Rodney Harrison [stats], who turned 35 in December, scoffed at the age question.

“If this is an old defense, I’ll take old any day,” he said. “I always say youth is overrated. You can run fast, but if you don’t know where you’re going, guess what? You’re just running in circles.

“We’ve heard (the knocks about our age), but we don’t care. Junior is 38 years old. He hasn’t missed a practice. He’s been playing every game. Bruschi, Vrabel, Adalius, all them guys as well as myself. Call us what you want, you still have to play us.”

And that’s exactly what the Jaguars plan on doing.

An age-old question - BostonHerald.com

Published: Friday, January 11, 2008
NFL Playoffs
Old? Who's old?
Bruschi, Seau provide guiding hand
By TOM KING Telegraph Staff
sports@nashuatelegraph.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – They're not exactly playing on borrowed time but New England Patriots veteran linebackers Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi hear the clock ticking and have only one goal in sight:

A Super Bowl ring.

For Bruschi, of course, it would be his fourth if the Patriots get by Jacksonville on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium in their first playoff test and go on to conclude a 19-0 season. Seau, meanwhile, still hungers for that first Super Bowl ring, having been on the losing side with the San Diego Chargers in 1994 at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers.

"I'm not here for anything else," he said. "I'm not here for anything else. I'm not here to practice. I'm not here to go to meetings. It's a great game and I do love the game, but you would love to finish it the way you dreamt of finishing it when you were a kid."

And that's with the Vince Lombardi Trophy being held high up over your head.

"I have no other goal but to win championships," Bruschi said. "That's the way it's always been for me . . . That's really my motivation right now for playing."

It's quite possible, depending on what happens in the playoffs, that neither could be back next year. Some felt Bruschi was debating after last year's AFC title game loss whether to come back. Seau, at age 38, isn't supposed to be here, either. He retired in August of 2006 only to answer the Patriots' call a few days later. Then he got hurt late last season and missed the playoffs and figured he'd come back for one more try at that ring.

"I knew coming here there was a chance of winning," he said. "Not to win just the Super Bowl, but to just win. And I knew that in this league if you win consistently enough it allows you greater things and that's the formula that I've been going with ever since I started. And the chance of winning has led us to where we are today. That's all we have – just a chance."

Many observers believe that the first team in NFL history to finish the regular season 16-0 a lot more than that. It will certainly be a special occasion for Bruschi, despite his previous three rings, because after the third he suffered what may have been a career-ending stroke. But he recovered and has recaptured his job as the team's middle linebacker in the 4-3 and inside LB in the 3-4. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick this week expounded on what the 34-year-old has meant to the team and the franchise.

"He's been great for this organization," Belichick said. "I was here (as an assistant) the first year that Tedy was here in '96 when we drafted him and it's a great story. He played defensive line in college, was converted as a linebacker, played on special teams and then rushed the passer a little bit early in his career, and then converted to being an inside linebacker . . . It's a difficult transition, probably one of the hardest to make, but he's made it, made it well and he's been exemplary for us in every phase of the game."

enlarge

"Yeah, my goal back then was to learn to play linebacker," Bruschi said. "Coming out of college and being a defensive lineman, never taking a hook-drop in my life. Coach Al (former Pats defensive coordinator Groh) asked me to drop to the hook and I asked him where that was. I knew I had a long way to go."

But Bruschi soon developed other goals once he got the nuances of the position down.

"I think that was my first and foremost step coming into the league, and then the other goal I had was to keep myself on the team as best I could with what I could do, being a third down pass-rusher and playing special teams," he said. "Then, as I continued to learn to play that linebacker position and I realized I could do that, I said, 'OK, let's take it to the next level and the next level' and now I'm to the level where I know I can play. Now I just want to keep winning and winning."

But off the field, he's been just as important, a key component in the locker room.

"He's been elected a captain pretty much every year since I've been here," Belichick said. "He's one of the most respected players on this team and in the league, and he's been one of the best players in the organization. (We've) won a lot of games with him out there on the field.

"He's done a lot of different things for us. He has great versatility and leadership and determination. A lot of guys didn't think he had the skills to play in this league. He's certainly proved them wrong."

Some 14 years ago, Seau was hoping to prove the skeptics wrong, as his Chargers were heavy underdogs in Super Bowl XXIX and got whipped by the Steve Young-led 49ers, 49-26. He hasn't been back to a Super Bowl since. It's a stinging memory.

"You just try to forget about it," Seau said. "Going to the Super Bowl and facing the San Francisco 49ers and all of the talent they had, they took it to us. Sitting in the airport – what was that, 12 years ago, even more, 13 – it was embarrassing. As an athlete, as a professional athlete, to go in there and compete at the high level that you had hoped to and to go out there and have it handed to you on national TV as the world was watching, it was embarrassing. I've always dreamt to have another opportunity and another chance, and that's why I'm here."

And he's here with enthusiasm.

"Every day, every practice," Belichick said. "He's here early, stays late, has a lot of energy out on the field, very vocal, communicating guy. Every time we go in the huddle he has an energy and a presence about him that's pretty much non-stop. I think he's obviously one of the most respected players in the league, certainly on this team. He has a good message and people listen to him, and they should. He has a lot of experience and (it) comes from the heart."

And what is that message?

"I never doubt myself playing the game of football," Seau said. "I've always said to not only myself, but people around and in the locker room and what have you, is never allow the world to put barriers on you as a person, or as a player, or as a human being, as to what you should be doing, what you should be saying at any age you may be.

"And I've never allowed that to happen. I believe that with good health, experience and god-given talent, do what you want to do and do it with a positive light and everything else will work out. It will all pan out, that's what I believe."

Many playoff games have panned out for Bruschi. They are all etched in his mind, in one way or another.

"Possibly," Bruschi said. "Yeah, I guess sometimes I'll ask, 'What year was that?' because we've had a lot of success here, but you still remember. I can still point out plays and what the weather was like and where we were and what were the game-changing plays in certain games.

"I think the games you remember most are the games when you win, you advance and the games that you lost and your season was over."

Indeed, Seau has had that feeling. He never imagined he wouldn't get to another Super Bowl, and that could be the case if the Patriots don't get past the Jaguars on Saturday.

"You think it's easy and it's going to come back again," he said of early success. "It's going to come back around, but it doesn't always work that way . . . Would I have thought I'd be here after 18 years? No, I would have never thought that. It just worked out the way it did and here we are. Now we're going to have to face that."

Bruschi doesn't get angry when anyone calls him old.

"I'd say, 'Yes, I am'," Bruschi said with a smile. "I'm 34 years old and I'm still playing linebacker in the NFL. I'm a realist, also. I'm not 24 anymore. But I know this one thing, and I've always known this – that I can play football. Football is what I'm meant to do and I know that I'm still good at it."

Same with Seau. And now, starting with Saturday night, both he and Bruschi take a step on a path where their future is unknown. It will either end in frustration or fruition.

"Hopefully, at the end of the day we can meet on this and talk about something else," Seau said. "But, until then, we just . . . we have a job on Saturday."

Nashuatelegraph.com: Old? Who's old?

 

After 12 seasons, Bruschi still loves playing the game


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tedy Bruschi hears footsteps. He doesn't know when they'll overtake him. Only that they will.

"I would be the first to tell I'm not at the beginning of my career anymore. I'm in my 12th season now and how many more can you possibly play?"

He didn't say he was walking away from the Patriots after the season ends. He probably wasn't hinting. He was deviating from Bill Belichick's script of keeping eyes on the prize to give context to his own career. Bruschi has earned that right, don't you think?

Some three years ago he had a hole in his heart. He had three Super Bowl rings. The price of a fourth seemed too high.

Bruschi turned a deaf ear to voices urging him to retire, that he had nothing left to prove or gain. Now he's two victories away from an incomparable season.

"One thing you learn as you get older and experience season after season after season," Bruschi said, "is that the bigger the games get, the better feeling when you win them because you don't know if you'll be back."

He was a kid in 1996, a 23-year-old rookie linebacker who had two sacks in Super Bowl XXXI against the Packers in New Orleans. The Patriots lost, but young Bruschi wasn't worried.

"You come away from that game feeling like, we're a great organization, I'm part of a great team, we're going to go far," he said. "All of a sudden we're looking for a new head coach, we go on a downward spiral until we turn it around again."

Pete Carroll followed Bill Parcells and then Belichick arrived. The Patriots returned to New Orleans to beat the St. Louis Rams for their first Super Bowl victory and now Bruschi had perspective. So this is how it's done.

Bruschi turns 35 in June. Some days he can look weary.

"I guess when you're a rookie or second-year player, toward the end of the year, you sort of still feel like a young man. But as every player gets into double-digit years, it gets tougher and tougher toward the end of the year, yes. Come Friday, Saturday, you start to feel good again and get ready to do it on Sunday."

Four times this season he led the Patriots in tackles. Against Dallas, in that big 48-27 win in October. Against Baltimore, in that emotional 27-24 win on a Monday night. Against Pittsburgh, when the Steelers believed they would be the team to derail the Patriots but instead lost 34-13.

Big games challenge good players and Bruschi has never played small.

"I think this is my sixth AFC Championship. You realize it's a big game, it's the game that gets you to the game that you want to be in," Bruschi said.

"You really try to break down the biggest games to the simplest forms. You learn how to prepare from your own experience."

His experience includes the stroke that might have killed him in February 2005. He doesn't play that card when he talks about football. That was an intensely personal experience and maybe the ultimate distraction. Who among his teammates didn't hold their breath when he returned to the lineup to make 10 tackles against Buffalo in late October?

He smiled Friday when someone asked why the Patriots are so good at dealing with distractions.

"You know, I hate to say it, but we are sort of used to it. We sort of feed off it," Bruschi said. "Whoever is being scrutinized, whoever is the target for any type of criticism, we rally around that person, whether it is our head coach or our all-star wide receiver or whoever it may be. We become stronger for it."

Tedy Bruschi is a football player, a linebacker. He hasn't talked publicly about what he'll do after the tap on the shoulder points him in another direction.

He'll be ready for that, too.

After 12 seasons, Bruschi still loves playing the game

Courant.com
Mind Over Chatter
Pats Not Bothered By Distractions

By DAVID HEUSCHKEL

Courant Staff Writer

January 19, 2008

FOXBOROUGH, Mass.


— Distractions? What distractions?

Real or perceived, the Patriots seem to have thrived off any this season to the point that it becomes a psychological advantage over their next opponent.

From quarterback Tom Brady's private life to Spygate to accusations of running up scores, there has been one constant: victory.

"I hate to say it, but we are sort of used to dealing with them," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said Friday. "I think this year has been a year of distractions since opening day, hasn't it? To tell you the truth, week after week there's something different we have to deal with.

"The way we do that is we sort of feed off of it. If we feed off the distractions and we become closer for it, we just bond together. Whoever is being scrutinized, whoever is the target for any type of criticism, we rally around that person whether it is our head coach or our All-Star wide receiver or whoever it may be. Some types of problems that sometimes you don't know about, we will rally around our teammates in the face of criticism and become stronger for it."

When coach Bill Belichick was attacked for the videotape controversy the first week of the season, leading some to say the three Super Bowl titles were tainted because the Patriots were caught cheating, the Patriots responded with a 38-14 victory over the Chargers in a nationally televised Sunday night game.

Bruschi, who has played with the Patriots since 1996, embraced Belichick afterward and spoke passionately about defending his coach's honor and protecting the Patriots logo like a boy scout would the American flag.

"There's a very strong sense of team unity here," tight end Kyle Brady said. "Coaches and players are all considered on the same boat, and when you attack somebody kind of within the family, there's a sense of loyalty and lashing out sort of at whoever the defender is, the attacker is. I've gotten that sense since I've been here, certainly."

The latest episode involves a he-said/she-said incident involving Randy Moss and a Florida woman who had a temporary restraining order served against the All-Pro wide receiver this week.

Naturally, the timing was bad. But the Patriots (16-0, 1-0 playoffs) did not let it become disruptive as they prepared for Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Chargers at Gillette Stadium.

"I think it's pretty simple," quarterback Tom Brady said Friday. "There's a sign when we walk in the door and right at the top of the sign, it's, 'What's expected of you' and No. 1 is 'Do your job.' And every time you walk in and you see that, you understand that you've got to show up and put whatever else is going on in your life to the side and focus, and you have a responsibility to your teammates to do what you need to do."

When Tom Brady reported to training camp in July, some wondered whether his life off the field would interfere with the way he performed on it. He was dating model Gisele Bundchen while his former girlfriend, actress Bridget Moynahan, was pregnant with his child.

"If you're a quarterback, you show up and do what's expected of you and if you're the offensive tackle you do the exact same," said Brady, who won his first MVP this season. "You don't have to come in here and worry about what the guy next to you is doing or what he's going through.

"The camaraderie we have as teammates here, it's been a special thing to be a part of. But at the same time, you rally around each other, and it's almost like this is a safe haven for everybody as well."

Patriots center Dan Koppen said the team has good leaders and coaches who ensure the players remain focused.

"Our job is to go out there and play football on Sundays," Koppen said. "We can't control anything that's going on in the media. All we can control is what goes on out on the practice field and [in] meetings and how we play Sunday. That's what we're supposed to deal with. When you're worrying about other things, you're letting that affect how you play on Sunday."

The way the Patriots were playing in the middle of the season generated controversy. Belichick was accused of running up the score in consecutive lopsided victories over the Dolphins and Redskins in October. As a result, the Patriots became the most hated team in America and Belichick went from evil genius to just plain evil.

"Every negative, you can turn into a positive. It's just the way you do it," running back Kevin Faulk said.

Contact David Heuschkel at

dheuschkel@courant.com.
 

Mind Over Chatter -- Courant.com

SATURDAY JANUARY 19, 2008
Tom Brady has a moment of reflection during Friday's press conference.

Fond memories

BY MARK FARINELLA SUN CHRONICLE STAFF

FOXBORO - For Tedy Bruschi, the opportunity to play in another big game has become more precious with the passage of time.

For Kevin Faulk, the responsibility that comes along with his captaincy has been cherished from beginning to end of this special season.

And for Tom Brady, the significance of his status as one of the game's great quarterbacks is constantly put into perspective by the memories of his youth, sitting in the stands at Candlestick Park and watching Joe Montana and Steve Young lead the San Francisco 49ers to glory.

All of these athletes took the opportunity to reflect upon matters beyond the immediate challenge of the San Diego Chargers during their last press conferences leading up to Sunday's AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium (3 p.m.; Ch. 4, 12).

In a series of brief question-and-answer sessions televised live over the NFL Network, Brady, Faulk and Bruschi offered heartfelt answers to questions about the significance of this game, and what it represents to each of them.

For Bruschi, Sunday's game will be the sixth AFC Championship Game in which he has played, dating back to his rookie season of 1996 under then-coach Bill Parcells. He has won four of those games, and gone on to win three Super Bowls, but also endured the ultimate of emotions at the other end of the spectrum when he suffered a stroke not long after playing in Super Bowl XXXIX.

He returned to good health, and now, near the end of his 12th NFL season, he has a chance to return to the pinnacle of his profession. But because he knows he can't play forever, this one may be more precious than the others.

"Absolutely," he said, "I would be the first to tell, I'm not in the beginning of my career any more. I'm in my 12th season and how many can you possibly play? I've had great examples in my career, guys like Roman Phifer who played 15 (seasons), like Willie McGinest, who's still playing, like Junior Seau, who's played 18, and they've taught me a lot of things on how to take care of yourself and how to have longevity in this league.

"But if there's one thing you learn as you get older and you experience season after season after season," he continued, "It's that the bigger the games get, the better feeling you get when you win them because you don't know if you will be back."

Bruschi's pro career began on both a high and low note, because of the heights he reached as a rookie and the rocky course the Patriots had to follow in order to evolve into the dynasty they are today.

"I was in the Super Bowl in 1996 when we lost to the Green Bay Packers," he said. "And you come away with a feeling from that game like, 'man, I'm a part of a great organization, a great team and we're going to go far.' All of a sudden, we're looking for a new head coach and we started down on a downward spiral until we turned it around again."

Bruschi said that experience comes into play at times like this.

"You realize it's a big game, it's the game that gets you to the game that you want to be in," he said. "But you learn how to prepare from your experience. You really try to break down the biggest games you've had in your career to the simplest forms, how do I prepare better to help us do a better job on offense or defense."

Some people react to pressure differently. It's a part of Patriot legend that Brady, just in his second year in the NFL and about to quarterback the Patriots to their first Super Bowl championship in New Orleans against the Rams, took a catnap during the lengthy pre-game show that followed the teams' on-field warmups.

"I was naïve back in the day," Brady said. "My first couple of years, I thought it was easy. I got to the Super Bowl and thought, 'hey, it's no problem, you know start a few games and you're in the Super Bowl.' U2's out there playing on the field, and it was a great environment.

"Any time it's the first time, those experiences you have when everything felt it was so out of control, you can look back and realize how much fun it was," he said. "Now you know kind of what to avoid, so you lose a little bit of that naïveté, as Mr. (Robert) Kraft would say."

Brady's repeat appearances in Super Bowls, and his record setting 2007 seasons, have transformed him from the skinny kid from San Mateo to the same sort of larger-than-life figure that he once idolized.

"I always feel, what better job would you ever want," Brady said. "I remember sitting up 10 rows from the top of Candlestick Park, looking down with binoculars at Joe Montana and Steve Young growing up, and I'm thinking I was this kid with a dream, and now all of a sudden, I'm the one on the field. To think back on those days and how this has progressed to the point where it's at, it's extremely fulfilling."

But there has been a less enjoyable side to Brady's fame, and he touched upon that briefly Friday. He didn't refer to the attention given to the breakup of his relationship with actress Bridget Moynahan, her pregnancy and his current estrangement from her as she raises their son while he dates supermodel Gisele Bündchen, but the inference was clearly there - and he said that the locker room has often become his sanctuary.

"In a lot of ways, as you grow older, people who were once part of your life move on to do different things, and there's other people that become even more important in your life, and you share experiences with them and you grow with them," he said. "The people that I trust become less and less. That's why, when I come into this locker room and I come around this environment, whether it's coaches I've been with for eight seasons, or teammates like Kevin Faulk and Tedy Bruschi that have been through a bunch of experiences with me both on the field and off the field I can rely on those guys for anything I may need."

"You enjoy both parts of it," he said. "Like with everything in life, there's give and take. And you've got to understand if there's a take, you've got to give too."

For Faulk, the last legacy of the Pete Carroll-Bobby Grier personnel era, the team represents the same sort of protective, supportive environment as Brady sees it. So when Patriots' coach Bill Belichick announced that Faulk was going to be one of the captains this year, it moved the veteran running back in a profound manner.

"It means so much to me," Faulk said. "It's one of the most important things in my life. When coach announced it, it was such a surprise to me but at the same time, I knew how hard I've worked, and to get to this point throughout my whole career, and being able to hear your name being called as captain was a very special honor."

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

The Sun Chronicle Online - Sports

Harrison sets the tempo, say Pats

01:00 AM EST on Saturday, January 19, 2008

BY SHALISE MANZA YOUNG

Journal Sports Writer


FOXBORO — What kind of difference will it make, Tedy Bruschi was asked yesterday, to have Rodney Harrison on the field against San Diego?

Hearing Harrison’s name, Bruschi’s face brightened.

“To me, Rodney is our tone-setter,” Bruschi said. “He really sets the tone for us. He’s probably the most physical and violent teammate I’ve ever [had], and his aggression he uses to his advantage.”

The veteran safety was injured when the Patriots faced the Chargers last year in the divisional round of the playoffs, and in Week Two, Harrison was serving his four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Last week against Jacksonville, Harrison’s late-game interception clinched the win for the Patriots. It was his fourth consecutive playoff game with a pick, and the seventh of his postseason career with New England.

Mike Vrabel knows Harrison has a fondness for making the big plays in the biggest games.

“You see him making a huge play to end the game last week, and he’s always played very, very, very well in playoff games that he’s been healthy for, that I can remember,” Vrabel said. “The best players, they’ve got to play great in the big games, so I don’t expect anything less from Rodney. Certainly he’s done that in the past and shown that he can do it when he’s out there.”

Bruschi mentioned Harrison’s aggressiveness, and that got the best of him a bit last week when he was flagged for two fourth-quarter unnecessary roughness penalties. Harrison was not happy with himself for drawing the 15-yard penalties, but said he won’t change his play in tomorrow’s game.

“He’ll be the first to tell you that sometimes he’s a little too aggressive,” Bruschi said. “But for us to have him is a big plus. He can do so much — he can be a linebacker, he can be a safety, a defensive back, and cover one of the best tight ends in the league.”

Rivers practices; still listed as doubtful

San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers took some snaps in practice yesterday and said he’s “optimistic” he’ll be able to play against the Pats. Rivers, who already had a sore left knee, injured his right knee last week against Indianapolis. The team said he has a strained medial collateral ligament, but the San Diego Union-Tribune has reported that he also has a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Rivers is officially listed as doubtful for the game, as is tight end Antonio Gates, who has a dislocated toe. Gates has not practiced all week; he was listed as doubtful before the game with the Colts, but played, though he was not effective.

Nose tackle Jamal Williams (ankle) is questionable; linebacker Shawne Merriman (illness) is listed as probable.

Running back LaDainian Tomlinson (knee) was removed from the list.

Few Patriots remain on injury list

The Patriots had a relatively short injury list yesterday, with special teamer Mel Mitchell (biceps) declared out; Mitchell did not participate in practice all week.

Tom Brady (right shoulder) and Rodney Harrison (thigh) are probable. Harrison did not practice yesterday. Left tackle Matt Light (flu), who missed practice on Thursday, was on the field.

Also notable is Stephen Neal’s absence from the list. It is the first time since Week 13 that Neal, who has battled a shoulder injury throughout the season, that he has not been among the Pats’ injured.

smanza@projo.com

Harrison sets the tempo, say Pats | New England Patriots | projo.com | The Providence Journal#####

 

Old? Patriots linebackers prefer savvy and 'seasoned'
By Tom Pedulla, USA TODAY
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — They are old.

There is no reason to sugarcoat any description of New England Patriots linebackers Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau, for their ages are as much a part of the team roster as their names.

Vrabel is the youngster at 32. Bruschi is 34. Seau, by NFL standards, should have retired to mow his lawn long ago. He unretired to join New England two years ago and turned 39 on Saturday.

PERFECTION RUINED? Giants relish the thought

That was one day before Seau made a huge stop to help the perfect Patriots to a 21-12 victory against the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship Game and a berth in Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3.

Vrabel, Bruschi and Seau don't seem to mind hearing about their years of service probably because their play indicates they are aging like fine wine.

"You can spin that however you want," Bruschi says of the age issue. "Old, seasoned, experienced — we're all of those things. We're not 24 any more."

Yet these thirtysomethings compete with the energy, enthusiasm and athleticism of twentysomethings.

"We have an older crew, a wise crew, but a crew that cares," Seau says. "There's a difference between caring and just wanting to play the game."

The time-tested trio is joined by 30-year-old free agent Adalius Thomas in a 3-4 alignment that has risen up to fit the magnitude of the games. New England limited San Diego to four field goals and has not permitted a touchdown since Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard tossed 6 yards to Ernest Wilford at 7:46 of the second quarter in the Patriots' 31-20 divisional playoff victory.

Helped greatly by a sturdy defensive front, Bruschi, Vrabel and Seau provided New England with three of its top five tacklers during the regular season. Bruschi made a team-leading 99 tackles, 69 unassisted. Vrabel (77 tackles, 53 solo) and Seau (76, 55 unassisted) ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.

Before the start of the season, some analysts wondered how much the 6-1, 247-pound Bruschi had left. If that helped to stoke his competitive fire, he does not acknowledge as much.

"I didn't use it as motivation because when somebody would say, 'Hey, Tedy, you're getting old,' I'd say, 'Yes, I am. I'm 34 years old and I'm still playing linebacker in the NFL.' I'm a realist also. I'm not 24 anymore.

"But I know this one thing, and I've always known this, that I can play football. Football is what I'm meant to do — and I know that I'm still good at it."

The same is true of Vrabel and Seau. The 6-4, 261-pound Vrabel used his 11th season to reach new heights. He set a career high with 12½ sacks and matched his personal high with four forced fumbles in earning his first Pro Bowl selection. Seau, in his 18th season, established a career high with three interceptions.

Predictably, all three rose to the occasion in the AFC Championship Game. Bruschi provided textbook defense when he knocked aside a second-and-goal pass from New England's 8-yard line that was intended for tight end Antonio Gates early in the second quarter. It was one of three times the Patriots would hold San Diego to a field goal after the Chargers had penetrated inside their 10.

On San Diego's next possession, heavy pressure by Vrabel led quarterback Philip Rivers to be intercepted by cornerback Asante Samuel. His 10-yard return set up the Patriots at the visitors' 24.

Two plays later, Tom Brady rifled a 12-yard scoring pass to Jabar Gaffney for a 14-6 advantage.

On third-and-1 at New England's 4 midway through the third quarter, Seau broke through into the backfield to pull down Michael Turner for a 2-yard loss, prompting the Chargers to settle for yet another field goal.

Vrabel, Bruschi and Seau are all defensive captains who will undoubtedly make certain during the next two weeks that younger teammates avoid distractions and remain focused on what is at stake.

"What we shoot for every year," Vrabel said, "is to make it to the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl."

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/patriots/2008-01-21-linebackers_N.htm

They found dead ends in red zone

By Mike Reiss, Globe Staff | January 21, 2008

FOXBOROUGH - In a joyous on-field celebration following yesterday's AFC Championship game, linebacker Tedy Bruschi was embracing Bill Belichick. Even then, Belichick still found the time to offer some analysis.

"When you hug your coach after you've won the AFC Championship and the first thing he said was 'great job in the red area', you know it was important," Bruschi said.

The red area, or red zone as it is more widely referred in NFL circles, was indeed the key to the Patriots' 21-12 victory over the Chargers yesterday.

San Diego had three trips inside the 20-yard line. All three ended in field goals. Even more painful for the Chargers, or impressive for the Patriots depending on the point of view, was that each drive stalled inside the 10.

Teams that settle for 3 points instead of 6 generally don't have much of a chance in the NFL, especially against the Patriots.

Yet yesterday was different, because New England's normally potent offense never truly hit its stride. That's why the defensive effort was crucial, as outside linebacker Mike Vrabel felt the performance was reflective of "the Patriots of old, making the big plays when it counted."

"All year we were either giving up touchdowns or we were playing great, there was no in between, and I think you saw the great tonight," Vrabel said.

Players and coaches provided different reasons for the success in the red zone.

Belichick felt the effort was a result of the players rising up in the critical moments, winning the one-on one-battles. Certainly, that was part of it.

On the other hand, Vrabel credited the coaches for making the right calls, both during the game and in the week of preparation. Vrabel cited one example to support this thinking, saying players knew that if there was a running back offset in the backfield, he would be running a wheel route, which is exactly what happened.

"The coaching staff really had a good grasp on what they were trying to do, and we'd see a formation, and we'd be able to check into something and get the right play called," he explained.

The red-zone defense got its first test late in the first quarter, when the game was scoreless and the Chargers advanced to the 9.

On first down, running back Michael Turner was stuffed up the middle, gaining just 1 yard as defensive linemen Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork teamed up on the tackle. After an incomplete pass to Lorenzo Neal, receiver Chris Chambers was ruled out of bounds after making a catch in the back of the end zone under the goal posts.

One of the keys to the Patriots' red-zone stop was first down. When the defense struggled in the red zone for much of the regular season, part of the problem was the inability to stop the run.

The next challenge came early in the second quarter, the Chargers again advancing to the 9. On first down, Turner was stopped on a rush for a 1-yard gain, with Wilfork and Ty Warren sharing the tackle. Again, locking down in the running game was big.

On second down, Bruschi delivered a clutch play in pass coverage, batting the ball away from tight end Antonio Gates. Bruschi explained he made an adjustment as he was initially double-covering Gates with linebacker Junior Seau, but when Seau rushed the quarterback, Bruschi had to reposition himself.

Then on third down, quarterback Philip Rivers delivered a short pass to Chambers to the left side, but cornerback Ellis Hobbs came in low to make a decisive tackle.

"All I was thinking is that he can't move without those legs," Hobbs said. "I knew he wasn't going to see me coming and I just shot at those legs."

The final red-zone stop came early in the third quarter, the Chargers setting up at the 13. San Diego went to the air on first down, with Rivers hitting Vincent Jackson for 6 yards on a short pass to the left side. A 3-yard run by Turner followed, setting up third and 1 from the 4.

The Patriots called on their goal-line defense with extra defensive linemen, and Turner was stuffed for a 2-yard loss over left tackle as Seau burst through the hole to make the stop.

Players felt the coaching staff was instrumental in that result, making the correct "out route charge" defensive call.

"The call that was made was one that could shoot the gap," Seau said. "I don't know if he called it because he knew I was going to shoot it any way, or he called it because he felt something, but it was a great call."

The red zone had dogged the Patriots all season, the defense ranking 27th out of the league's 32 teams by surrendering 24 touchdowns in 41 trips.

Safety Rodney Harrison explained that because the field is condensed inside the 20, a different style of defense is required inside the red zone. He felt the biggest difference yesterday was that players simply did their job without trying to do too much.

"It's trusting in your fellow teammate," he said. "We'd watch film and see four guys doing their job and one guy doing his own thing, and you can't have that with the type of defense that we play, which is assignment oriented."

The red-zone defense came through yesterday when it counted.

"They were just better than us down there," Rivers said.

Patriots caused Chargers to find dead ends in red zone - The Boston Globe

Red-zone stops make Bruschi feel great

10:47 PM EST on Sunday, January 20, 2008

FOXBORO -- Three times, the San Diego Chargers moved the ball inside the Patriots' 10-yard line.

Three times they settled for field goals, failing to score even one touchdown against a determined New England defense.

"It was crucial that we had those 'red zone' stops," said Tedy Bruschi, a 12-year veteran who'll be going to his fifth Super Bowl with the Patriots.

"I mean, when you hug your coach after you've won the AFC championship and the first thing he says was: 'Great job in the red area,' you know it was important

"It's something we've been emphasizing. We had our struggles early in the year, and then we make some progress, and then give ground a little bit, and then make more progress.

"It's great," Bruschi continued, "to see that, in the biggest game of the year, we come up and force them to kick field goals.''

Offense has been what has carried the Patriots throughout their undefeated season, as quarterback Tom Brady threw a league-record 50 touchdown passes -- 23 of them to Randy Moss, which also is an NFL record -- and the Pats set a record for points scored (589.)

But, with Brady throwing a season-high three interceptions yesterday, including one in the end zone, it was the New England defense that was the difference in the game.

"I think our defense always does what we need to do to win," Bruschi said. "Holding them to field goals today was what we needed to do to win."

-JIM DONALDSON


http://www.projo.com/patriots/content/projo_20080120_redzone.4161336e.html

Bruschi tackles past, embraces the future

By Mark Blaudschun, Globe Staff | January 21, 2008

FOXBOROUGH - Tedy Bruschi's résumé includes four Super Bowl appearances, three of them victories, as he went from the brash rookie who was ready to tackle the world when he came out of the University of Arizona in 1996 to savvy veteran. It includes the thrill of victory in 2001 when he was a key defensive contributor in the Patriots' 20-17 upset of the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. It includes back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 2003 and 2004 when the Patriots were establishing themselves as the NFL's dynastic force of the decade. And it included the bitterness of defeat a year ago in the AFC Championship game when the Indianapolis Colts rallied in the fourth quarter to end the Patriots' season.

And yesterday, on the coldest day of a season in which the Patriots have yet to feel the agony of defeat, Bruschi walked into the New England locker room with the warmest of feelings after a 21-12 win over the San Diego Chargers that sent the Patriots back to the Super Bowl.

"This feels great probably because it's my most special one yet," said Bruschi. "Larry [linebacker and special teamer Larry Izzo] and I were talking about that," said Bruschi, whose eight tackles and one key knockdown of a Philip Rivers pass at the goal line were crucial elements in a Patriot defense that bent but never broke in holding the Chargers to four field goals. "We were talking about how different it was when we were walking off that field [in Indianapolis] last year. Sometimes you have to experience the other side, too."

Bruschi, a third-round pick in the 1996 NFL draft, has been with the Patriots longer than anyone except wide receiver Troy Brown, who joined the team in 1993. He has seen the highs and lows on the field and off, a mild stroke in the winter of 2005 putting his career in jeopardy.

At 34, he is clearly in the winter of his career, but that perspective allows him to appreciate being part of the first perfect NFL regular season in 35 years and talk about it in a context that seems perfect for the moment in a season now down to its final game.

"If I felt any pressure this year it was before the Giant game [the final regular-season game]," Bruschi said, "when we realized the impossible could be achieved. It was history."

But just as quickly, Bruschi makes it clear he has left the regular season behind him. "We have been in the postseason so many times [we know] it's about winning the next game," he said. "We win the AFC Championship game and we can put that in the trophy case."

Bruschi said yesterday's win was as much about Patriot football as any game this season. "We have a good team," he said in an understatement. "Everyone wants to focus on one thing, but it's much more than that."

Then Bruschi looked back and talked about where he had been and what he had endured.

"Back in 2005 after we won the Super Bowl, I never thought I'd be a regular person again after I had a stroke," he said. "I didn't know if this was possible but I just kept working and here I am."

He got together with Brown as the clock ticked off the final seconds yesterday.

"We're the only ones still left from the 1996 team" said Bruschi of the squad that lost to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI. "I told him, 'We're going back. We're going back again.' "

And it'll be nice to for Bruschi to play in a Super Bowl in a familiar setting, Glendale, Ariz.

"I have a lot of friends out there," he said. "That's where I played college football, at the University of Arizona. My wife is from there and she's got family. It's going to be a great finish for me to go out there and, hopefully, we can win this game and finish the year out. I've come a long way from thinking I was never going to play again to being here now.

"It's very satisfying."

Patriots' Bruschi happy to look back, happier to look ahead - The Boston Globe

News and Notes:

With Troy Brown inactive against San Diego, it's possible Patriots fans may not get another chance to cheer on the 15-year veteran. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who shared a tender moment with Brown after the AFC Championship game, said Brown, who is going to his fifth Super Bowl, is still very much a part of the team. "To see Troy is special because he's been here since my first day and we have a special bond among ourselves," said Bruschi, who passed Brown for the most playoff games played in Patriots history (21). "I know his year has been up and down in terms of playing and not playing, but I need him around. It feels good to have Troy Brown around."

http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2008/01/22/they_were_possessed_to_the_end

Tedy Bruschi's 'most special' Super Bowl yet

By Jim Corbett, USA TODAY


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tedy Bruschi is the embodiment of the New England Patriots' resilience.

The 12th-year inside linebacker savors this Super Bowl title shot more than his three rings won since 2001, and not because the defensive co-captain made one of the biggest defensive stops to key unbeaten New England's 21-12 AFC Championship Game win against the San Diego Chargers.

This Super Bowl XLII appearance was never promised to New England's inspirational leader.

After suffering a career-threatening stroke that left him with blurred vision, numbness in his left arm and leg (in addition to a halting gait) days after playing in his first Pro Bowl in February 2005, Bruschi has arguably come farther than any player to arrive at New England's Feb. 3 Super Bowl showdown against the New York Giants.

The longest-tenured Patriot other than receiver Troy Brown, Bruschi, 34, is returning to the Arizona desert, where he played collegiately for then-University of Arizona Wildcats coach Dick Tomey.

Nicknamed "Tedy Ballgame" by fans for his heart-and-soul passion, tireless work ethic and instinctive big plays, Bruschi is still playing at a high level after most doubted he would play again.

"This is the most special one yet," Bruschi told reporters an hour after the Patriots became the first NFL team to go 18-0 in one season. "Back in 2005, when we won the Super Bowl, I never thought I would be a regular person again after I had a stroke.

"Sometimes you think that something is impossible. I didn't know this was possible. But I just kept working, kept working, and here I am."

With the Patriots leading 7-3 Sunday and the Chargers inside the New England 10-yard line, Bruschi made a diving knockdown of Philip Rivers' pass intended for Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates at the goal line on second-and-goal.

In all, the Patriots held the Chargers to 6 yards on eight downs inside the New England 10-yard line, forcing San Diego to settle for Nate Kaeding field goals of 26, 23 and 24 yards.

"It was crucial that we had those red-zone stops," Bruschi says. "I mean, when you hug your coach after you've won the AFC championship and the first thing he says was, 'Great job in the red area,' you know it was important.

"These are the games we are used to. This is what we consider Patriot football."

Says Tomey, who now coaches at San Jose State: "I know how much hard work went into getting back with the stroke. At Arizona, his will to win and love for the game made players around him better.

"He's negotiated his own contracts with the Patriots. He's never wanted to leave them. He's just a unique individual in the present-day NFL.

"Tedy was as impressive a player on tape as I've ever seen coming out of high school. Yet people doubted him because of his height. He's proven everybody wrong throughout his entire life because of his intelligence, competitiveness and commitment to excellence.

"He does it right whether it's being a parent or a husband or teammate. He's the best."

Bruschi's wife, Heidi, and her family are from Tucson, so Bruschi will enjoy a sweet family reunion in his fifth Super Bowl as a Patriot, a trip that would have seemed improbable just three years ago.

"I've come a long way from thinking I was never going to play again to being here now," he says.

The ultimate Patriots survivor is one win from finding the perfect ending to a Super Bowl XLII comeback story like no other.

"With everything he's meant to that organization and overcoming his stroke, it's an extraordinary story," Tomey says.

 

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/patriots/2008-01-24-sw-bruschi_N.htm?csp=34

Tedy reaches destination
Completes long road after stroke
By Karen Guregian | Tuesday, January 22, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com | N.E. Patriots


FOXBORO - His emotions were raw. A million thoughts raced through Tedy Bruschi’s head, and it was hard for him to put each one into words. But soon enough, they spilled out.

The Patriots  were going to the Super Bowl. They had a date with the New York Giants in the biggest game of the football season.

Granted, this isn’t the first time for Bruschi. It will be his fourth trip.

The thought of being at the Super Bowl, however, is an immediate, emotional trigger for the Pats linebacker. It was 10 days after the Patriots’ last appearance and victory in a Super Bowl that Bruschi suffered a stroke, one that left him wondering if he’d ever be the same, much less play again.

Maybe that’s why he kept grabbing his oldest and dearest teammates, like Troy Brown and Rodney Harrison  and Junior Seau, and hugging them tight, and telling them how special another trip meant.

“Back in 2005 after we won the Super Bowl, I thought never I’d be a regular person again after I had a stroke,” Bruschi said. “Sometimes you think that something is impossible. I didn’t know if this was possible. But I just kept working, and kept working. And here I am.”

Bruschi has written about his ordeal in a book. He raises money and does commercials promoting stroke awareness. But nothing will come close to the exposure of him being in the spotlight of the Super Bowl, and again, talking about what happened on the night of Feb. 15, 2005, and how he’s managed to persevere and resume a normal life.

Playing football in the NFL isn’t exactly the job one would attach to a stroke survivor.

“I think his story is incredibly inspirational,” said Dr. David Greer, a renowned specialist in stroke neurology at Mass. General who treated Bruschi. “It’s a pretty amazing thing what he’s been able to do. I couldn’t even imagine anyone better to be a spokesperson for stroke survival and beating the odds.”

Each year, about 700,000 Americans suffer a stroke - a sudden injury to the brain caused by a blood vessel bursting or becoming blocked. Only 10 percent of victims recover almost completely, while 25 percent more recover with minor impairments.

In Bruschi’s case, a blood clot had passed though a small hole in the upper chamber of his heart and lodged in his brain. He has stated if the clot had moved a few more millimeters, it might have killed hiim.

At the time, he had problems with vision in one eye, along with movement in his left arm and left leg, but with hard work, overcame those issues.

Greer said he often brings up Bruschi’s name to his patients to try to encourage them, and help push them through a difficult time.

“I use him as an example that will often light up patients’ faces to hear about him, and hear how he beat the odds,” Dr. Greer said. “Sometimes I have patients who had the same type problem as him. He’s talked about the little hole in the heart. That comes up in two or three of every 10 patients. So that’s something in particular that’s helpful.”

When asked if he could have pictured Bruschi the way he is now, leading the team in tackles and preparing to play in another Super Bowl, Dr. Greer said he actually envisioned the day.

“I didn’t know that he’d be totally normal by the end, but he is. He’s completely normal,” Dr. Greer said. “I put him through the ringer, and the football field has put him through much more of a ringer than I ever could, and as you can see (Sunday), when he laid out for that ball to block (Antonio Gates) from getting it before the end zone, he’s performing at an extremely high level.”

Said Bruschi about his upcoming journey to Arizona: “I’m overjoyed. I’m elated. I’m excited. It’s going to be a great finish for me to go out there and hopefully we can win this game and finish the year off. I’ve come a long way from thinking I was never going to play football again, to being here now. It’s very satisfying.”

http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/football/patriots/view.bg?articleid=1068207&srvc=rss


Bruschi Leads By Example
Symbolizes Pats' Persistence

By DAVID HEUSCHKEL

Courant Staff Writer

January 26, 2008


FOXBOROUGH, Mass.

— Rodney Harrison looked over his left shoulder at the helmet hanging on a hook and proceeded to encircle the Patriots logo with a finger.

"This is Bruschi right here. That emblem right there, that's Bruschi," Harrison said. "In my opinion, that's Tedy Bruschi. That sums up Tedy Bruschi, what this Patriot team is about: unselfishness, commitment, dedication, teamwork, hard work, just everything."

At that moment, team officials began notifying reporters the locker room was closing. The 45-minute session couldn't have ended any better than Harrison's symbolic characterization of his teammate to a few reporters.

Bruschi, a 12-year veteran who has long been considered the heart and soul of the Patriots' defense, is a pro at this Super Bowl thing. His first was as a rookie in a 35-21 loss to Green Bay and Brett Favre in January 1997. But Bruschi would get another opportunity ... and another ... and another ... and another.

The proud owner of three championship rings, Bruschi will join a handful of players to appear in five Super Bowls with the same team when the Patriots and Giants play Feb. 3 in Glendale, Ariz., joining Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, who spent his entire career with the Broncos, and five players from the Cowboys teams in the 1970s.

Bruschi talks about Super Bowls the way most remember vacations, holidays or a backyard barbecue.

"My favorite memory is running on the field with my kids before the Super Bowl in Jacksonville," Bruschi said Friday, recalling his last one three years ago, a 24-21 win over Philadelphia. "That's probably one of my favorite memories. The Super Bowl is a time when you enjoy things with your family and sort of celebrate the year that everyone's made sacrifices for. My kids, my family, all of our friends and families have made sacrifices for us because of all the hours we put in here. To have a moment with them on the field before the biggest game of my career is something I'll always remember."

What happened 10 days later blurred his vision and threatened his football career. Bruschi had a mild stroke that temporarily left him partially paralyzed, a condition believed to be brought on by a congenital heart defect. Less than a year later, he returned to the field. Three years later, he is back in the Super Bowl.

What distinguishes this one from the others to Patriots fans is the team's unbeaten record. Bruschi isn't thinking about the historic aspect as much as playing in a place where he has fond memories. He played at the University of Arizona in Tucson, about 90 minutes south of Phoenix, and his wife Heidi is from the state. So the couple and their three children will see family and friends.

"This one's a little bit more special for me than all the others in terms of where I'm going," Bruschi said. "Coming back from the stroke that I had in 2005, there's a lot of things that I can sort of smile at and realize that I'm back in the Super Bowl and it feels really good to be here."

It will be the first time the Patriots played in Arizona since his stroke. However, there is one place Bruschi is not looking forward to visiting.

"Coach Belichick said we're going to be practicing in Arizona State's practice facility and I'm still like, 'Ugh, Arizona State, the scum devils' and stuff like that," Bruschi said about his alma mater's Pac-10 rival. "That's how I still remember it. That's how it was."

Bruschi, 34, remembers feeling a bit awe-struck by his first Super Bowl experience.

"It seemed like it was one big party at times in New Orleans back then," Bruschi recalled. "I think we had good veterans back then that helped me learn, like Chris Slade, Willie McGinest, Bruce Armstrong, Ben Coates, Keith Byars was on the team, and they stressed to us how lucky we were to be here and to really focus on the game."

Five years later, Bruschi returned to New Orleans. And this time the Patriots celebrated, beating the Rams 20-17 on Adam Vinatieri's 48-yard field goal as time ran out in one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.

"We were an overwhelming underdog back then," said Bruschi, one of 10 players still with the team from that season. "A lot of us that are still in here now were a lot younger and still up and coming in terms of success or individual accolades or anything like that.

"If anything, now we're the favorites and everyone looks at us as the team to knock off. That's a big jump. That's a big jump to come from a bunch of young kids who no one's ever heard of before to now everyone's sort of hoping we get knocked off."

 

Bruschi Leads By Example -- Courant.com

 

Bruschi focused on present
By Karen Guregian / Patriots Notebook | Saturday, January 26, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com | N.E. Patriots



FOXBORO - Tedy Bruschi [stats] was asked yesterday if he had thought about the possibility of walking away, of retiring as a Super Bowl champion should the Patriots [team stats] win on Feb. 3.

It’s something that’s certainly in the realm of possibility for Junior Seau and Troy Brown [stats]. How about Bruschi?

At first, Bruschi seemed a little taken aback by the question, but finally answered. Essentially, his approach to the end of the year will be the same as it was in recent seasons.

“That’s something where I’m focused on what we’re doing now. I’m in the moment right now. We’re right in the middle of it,” Bruschi said. “I’m in Year 12 now. I take it one year at a time now and reassess after every season.

“I’m going down to have a good time, prepare to play a great Super Bowl game. Any thoughts of it being a culmination or anything like that are not in my mind at all.”

A University of Arizona alum, Bruschi was a bit peeved to find out where the Pats will practice during Super Bowl week.

“Coach (Bill) Belichick said today we were going to be practicing in Arizona State’s practice facility,” Bruschi said with a shrug. “Arizona State, the ‘Scum Devils.’ That’s how I remember it.”

Tedy Patriot

Safety Rodney Harrison [stats], when asked to describe Bruschi, pointed to the Patriots logo on his helmet.

“That’s Tedy Bruschi right there. That’s my opinion of Tedy Bruschi,” Harrison said, once again pointing to the logo. “That’s what this Patriot team is about: unselfishness, commitment, dedication, teamwork, hard work, just everything.”

Harrison, who has been nursing a thigh injury the past few weeks, was back at practice yesterday. Other than Tom Brady [stats], offensive lineman Ryan O’Callaghan was the only player missing during the media-access portion.

How did Harrison explain his absence Thursday?

“Old age,” he said with a smile. “I’m fine. It’s a long season. I’m fine. I’ll be there (for the Super Bowl).”

Asked if anyone’s feeling 100 percent at this point in the season, Harrison cracked, “Yeah, probably Brandon Meriweather. He’s 21 years old and he’s running around like he’s 21 years old. Those young guys are 100 percent, but us old guys with some mileage, we’re not 100 percent.”

Corps issue

Plaxico Burress seems to think the Giants receiving corps is as good as, if not better than, the Patriots record-setting crew.

At least, that’s what the headlines in the New York Daily News screamed yesterday. And Burress did utter the following: “We have guys that can go out and do things just as well or better than some of those guys. That’s the way we look at it.”

The Pats’ reaction?

They’ll let their game do the talking on Super Bowl Sunday.

“The good thing about the National Footbal League, and I think in life, is you that have opportunities,” Harrison said. “And guess what? Our offense and their offense, our defense and their defense, our special teams and their special teams will have an opportunity to make sure that comes to light. So we’ll see.”

Did Harrison feel the Pats had the better receivers?

“Yeah, no question,” he answered. “You’ve got Wes Welker with 112 catches. You’ve got Randy Moss with 23 touchdowns. Donte’ Stallworth has come up big, as well as Jabar Gaffney [stats]. It’s the best I’ve been around.”

No blowing up

Harrison was asked if he was surprised that Moss hasn’t gotten upset or “blown up” over having just two catches in the playoffs.

“I don’t know why you’d expect a guy to blow up,” Harrison said. “His No. 1 thing when he came to the New England Patriots [team stats] was to win. . . . Coach Belichick tells you whether you’re an undrafted free agent or a five-year veteran, check your ego at the door. And that’s what Randy has been doing.” . . .

Kelley Washington got a little advice for the opening kickoff for Super Bowl XLII.

“Veterans say you’re supposed to close your eyes the first second after the kickoff because of the cameras and lights,” he said. “That should be an experience.”

Harrison, however, thinks that’s bad counsel.

“You close your eyes, you get your head knocked off in this league,” he said.

Bruschi focused on present - BostonHerald.com

Bruschi basks in the moment
Saturday, January 26, 2008
BY DAVID WALDSTEIN
Star-Ledger Staff

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi is on his way to his fifth Super Bowl, and his fourth in the past seven seasons. But this one is going to have even more meaning than the others.

He already has won three championships, but a few weeks after the last one in February 2005, Bruschi suffered a stroke that left his life and career in jeopardy. Somehow, with a plug inserted in a small hole in his heart, Bruschi came back in the middle of the 2005 season. Two years later, he has been given another chance in the ultimate game.

"Coming back from the stroke that I had in 2005, there's a lot of things that I can sort of smile at and realize: I'm back in the Super Bowl, and it feels really good to be here," Bruschi said.

There may have been doubts about whether Bruschi could come back from the stroke, and even questions about whether he should. But Bruschi has played in 45 of a possible 46 games since the stroke, including all 18 Patriots victories this year, and now is being rewarded.

"This one's a little bit more special for me than all the others," he said. "I mean, also in terms of where I'm going. I have fond memories of the state of Arizona, where I played college football at the university about an hour and a half south from where we'll be."

Bruschi played at the University of Arizona, less than 100 miles from Glendale, where Super Bowl XLII will be played a week from tomorrow.

While leading Arizona's "Desert Swarm" defense, Bruschi had 52 career sacks, which tied the NCAA Division 1 record originally set by Derrick Thomas. Bruschi probably won't have a chance to get down to Tucson next week, which is fine, he said. But the news got worse when he found out where the Patriots would be practicing all week in Phoenix.

"Coach (Bill) Belichick said we're going to be practicing in Arizona State's practice facility," Bruschi said with a laugh, "and I still am like, 'Oh, Arizona State, the Scum Devils. That's how I still remember it. That's how it was."

It's these little things that make each Super Bowl appearance different for Bruschi, who was drafted in the third round in 1996 (86th overall). His first trip was in his rookie season with Bill Parcells, and the Pats lost to the Packers.

Since then, the Patriots are 3-0 in the Super Bowl, which is why he said it never feels repetitious.

"No, each and every championship we've had here is held in its highest regard individually because the best goals are the ones you can share with others," he said. "Those teams were special people that I knew in my life. Hopefully, we can share that thing together in this locker room also."

So, for the past few days, as the Pats' players walked around Gillette Stadium, in and out of meetings and to the lunch table, Bruschi has been running into one of those people who has been around for all of those Super Bowl appearances, veteran Troy Brown, drafted by New England three years before Bruschi.

Even though he isn't expected to be activated for the game because of a knee injury that has kept him sidelined most of this season, Brown is still a vital part of the team, especially for Bruschi.

"Troy and I walk around the locker room this week, and we give each other a nod and say, 'We're back again,'" Bruschi said, smiling.

While this is clearly the end of the line for Brown, it may be Bruschi's last game, too. But in true Patriots fashion, he wouldn't answer the question, saying only that his sole focus is on the Giants.

"I'm in the moment right now," he said.

David Waldstein may be reached at

dwaldstein@starledger.com

Bruschi basks in the moment - NJ.com

 Patriots Linebacker and Author Bruschi Reaches Pinnacle of Comeback: Just Three Years Removed From Debilitating Stroke, Bruschi on Verge of History

Thu Jan 24, 2:01 AM ET

With days to go before Super Bowl XLII, New England Patriot linebacker Tedy Bruschi is on the verge of the greatest comeback, one that far exceeds the NFL. Just three years ago, Bruschi suffered a stroke.

Hoboken, NJ (PRWEB) January 24, 2008 -- With days to go before Super Bowl XLII, New England Patriot linebacker Tedy Bruschi is on the verge of the greatest comeback, one that far exceeds the NFL. Just three years ago, Bruschi suffered a stroke.

As the New York Giants and New England Patriots prepare for Super Bowl XLII, one player in particular will be thankful to be on the field and even playing at all. Just 3 years ago, weeks after the Patriots last appearance in the Super Bowl, Tedy Bruschi, a 32-year old linebacker, husband, and father of three sons suffered a stroke. A professional athlete in the prime of his career and in excellent health, Bruschi was forced to retire from the NFL to concentrate fully on his grueling rehabilitation. As he began to recover, though, he started thinking about a return to the NFL, and its ramifications on his family and his health.

Now in good health, Tedy not only returned to the NFL, but returned at the highest level. On February 3rd, his team will attempt to become the first NFL team to finish a season 19-0, besting the previous mark of 17-0 by the 1972 Miami Dolphins. What makes the story all the more remarkable is Tedy is not just a role player on a decent team. He is an important cog and one of the team captains of a team that, with a win against the Giants, will become the best team in NFL history.

In NEVER GIVE UP: My Stroke, My Recovery and My Return to the NFL (Wiley; 2007; $24.95; Cloth; ISBN: 978-0-470-10869-7), Bruschi, along with best-selling author and radio personality Michael Holley, reveals how he and his family faced the physical and emotional challenges of this life-threatening event and how he managed to rejoin the team just eight months later--earning himself a share of the Comeback Player of the Year Award and full ownership of the prestigious Ed Block Courage Award. From the morning of the stroke and his initial plans to retire through his rehabilitation and ultimate decision to return to the NFL, Bruschi shares his incredible personal journey of recovery, including powerful insights he gained from his experiences as well as the support and encouragement he's given to other stroke survivors. NEVER GIVE UP also details the long aftermath of his recovery, how it challenged his faith, his marriage, and his career.

Patriots Linebacker and Author Bruschi Reaches Pinnacle of Comeback: Just Three Years Removed From Debilitating Stroke, Bruschi on Verge of History - Yahoo! News

Tedy Bruschi back, feeling Super

By RICH CIMINI
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Sunday, January 27th 2008, 4:00 AM


With confetti falling from the sky, and with U2 blaring from the stadium speakers — an all-too-familiar scene for the Patriots — Tedy Bruschi sought out Troy Brown amid the pandemonium last Sunday and gave him a great big hug.

"We're going back again!" Bruschi screamed to his injured teammate moments after earning a trip to Super Bowl XLII.

For Bruschi and Brown, the only holdovers from the Patriots' 1996 team that captured the AFC title, it will be their fifth Super Bowl appearance. In Bruschi's case, his legacy will transcend that of a football champion.

He's a champion and a stroke survivor.

Nearly three years ago, a few days after playing in his first Pro Bowl, which came a week after the Patriots' third Super Bowl title, Bruschi was struck down by a life-threatening stroke that caused blurred vision and temporary paralysis in his arms and legs.

To make it back to the field was a miracle; to reach another Super Bowl … well, the emotion almost got the best of him after the Patriots' win over the Chargers for the AFC Championship.

"I don't know what word I want to use — overjoyed, elated, excited," Bruschi said in front of his locker. "I've come a long way, from thinking I was never going to play football again. To be here now, it's very satisfying.

"I never thought I'd be a regular person again after I had my stroke," he continued, some of the words catching in his throat. "Sometimes you think that something isn't possible. I didn't know if this was possible. I just worked and worked, and here I am."

That the Super Bowl will be played in Arizona is entirely fitting, considering Bruschi, 34, was a college star at Arizona in the mid-1990s. He said, "It's going to be a great finish for me," perhaps a subtle hint that he's planning to retire after the season. If so, he'd go out on his own terms, hardly the circumstances he faced three years ago.

The stroke, which hit him in the middle of the night, Feb. 15, 2005, forced him into his first "retirement." The cause of the stroke was a hole in his heart, which doctors told him had been there since birth. The hole allowed the blood to flow freely between the ventricles. A clot had formed and had gone to the back of the right side of his brain.

The hole was repaired with surgery, but Bruschi still had major concerns. In his book, "Never Give Up: My Stroke, My Recovery & My Return to the NFL," Bruschi recalls an emotional family meeting.

"It was hard for me to say it," he writes, "but through the tears I was able to tell them that my football career was over."

Bruschi actually went through the trouble of cleaning out his locker and telling coach Bill Belichick, "I'm going to retire." He was going to take a marketing position in the Patriots' front office, but his rehab went so well that he went from retiring to sitting out the '05 season to missing only six games.

Even though he did it with the blessing of several renowned doctors, Bruschi was heavily criticized for his decision, with many in the soap-box media claiming he was nuts for risking his life to play a sport. He turned out to be one of the lucky ones. About 700,000 Americans suffer strokes each year, and only 10% fully recover.

Bruschi has turned a potential tragedy into a positive. A few months after his stroke, he hooked up with the American Stroke Association. He created "Tedy's Team," which raises money and helps promote stroke awareness.

"He has been, and continues to be, an amazing advocate, spokesperson and inspiration for stroke survivors," said Zack Blackburn, senior director of "Tedy's Team." "His reach is great."

For now, Bruschi is focused on one thing — the Giants. He cherishes this opportunity because, in his 12th season, he knows time is running out.

"The bigger the games get," he said, "the better the feeling when you win them, because you don't know if you'll be back."

Tedy Bruschi back, feeling Super

Bruschi proud of Harrison

Faulk plays many roles ...East Coast showdown ...Going to Disneyworld?

RICH GARVEN’S NFL NOTES


The Patriots did not celebrate their AFC Championship last Sunday in over-the-top fashion with champagne and chest-thumping. They are not, after all, the Red Sox.

But the players donned the requisite championship hats and exchanged heartfelt hugs, none more so than the one shared by veterans Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi.

“I told him I was proud of him, and I told him I was proud of him as a man because of what he has gone through this year,” Bruschi said of the conversation he had with Harrison, who missed the first four games after being suspended by the NFL for taking performance-enhancing drugs.


“The year started tough for him, and we all rallied behind him,” Bruschi continued. “But for him to come back and face his critics and to say, ‘Yes, this is what happened; but this is who I am,’ and he just kept working and kept playing, and I think the last two weeks, if there’s anyone that you can look on our defense that you may find irreplaceable, it’s him.”

Bruschi knows all about going through difficult times after suffering a stroke in 2005. There was a question of whether he’d ever lead a normal life again, let alone play in the NFL.

It was a question asked not only by others, but Bruschi himself.

“I thought I’d never be a regular person again after I had a stroke,” Bruschi said. “Sometimes you think that something is impossible. I didn’t know if this was possible. But I just kept working and kept working, and here I am.”

That would be in a fifth Super Bowl. Bruschi will join 13 other players, including former teammate Adam Vinatieri, for the second-most Super Bowl appearances by a player. Troy Brown is in a position to take the fifth, but he’s been inactive for five of the last seven games.

Defensive lineman Mike Lodish played in a record six Super Bowls, four with Buffalo (all losses) and two with Denver (both wins).

Is there a more underappreciated running back in football today than Kevin Faulk?

While he’s not an every-down back, he can — and does — play on any down. Faulk has a great set of hands, is an outstanding blocker and an efficient runner.

“He understands really all parts of the game exceptionally well,” coach Bill Belichick said. “Pass protection, route running, receiving, the running game, blocking schemes, play action — and he’s a good football player. He has good balance, he’s quick, he’s hard to tackle, catches the ball well … he’s very instinctive.”

In the News to Me Department, Faulk is the second all-time leading rusher in Southeastern Conference history. He rushed for 4,557 yards at LSU, a total second only to Herschel Walker.

Of course, you didn’t have to tell that to Glen Davis. The Celtics rookie grew up idolizing Faulk, a fellow native Louisianan who earned All-America honors in both high school and college.

Davis wore No. 33 as a football-playing youth because Faulk’s famed 3 wasn’t available. Ironically, Faulk has sported 33 since joining the Patriots in 1999 as a second-round pick.

“I’ve known ‘Big Baby’ since he was in high school,” Faulk said of Davis. “I knew he played football, but I didn’t know he wore my number. Me and him have been real close for a long time. I actually watched him play (Thursday against Toronto).”

Ellis Hobbs majored in art and visual communication at Iowa State, where he was a three-time Academic Athlete of the Year award winner.

Hobbs has been fortunate enough to earn a living playing football for the last three years, but had other aspirations if the NFL hadn’t worked out. Namely to try to put his schooling to use as animator for a Hollywood studio.

“I like to draw,” Hobbs said. “I’ve been drawing all my life, and hopefully I won’t have to work anymore after this. I’ll have enough money that I can just sit down and relax. That’s one thing that I want to do as a hobby, try to get on a Disney team or something like that. I say Disney, really anything as far as the art world and just work on animation.”

Seymour rode the Giants
There weren’t too many people projecting the Giants to play in Arizona next weekend, including a lot of their fans who had had their fill of Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin. But Richard Seymour liked what he saw when the Patriots closed out the regular season with that stirring, 38-35 victory last month.

“Even when we played those guys, they played tough, they played hard, they play the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” Seymour said. “From a fan’s perspective, me and a couple of my buddies had our picks for the week (in the playoffs), and I rode the Giants all the way there. I’m off of their bandwagon now, though.”

The Patriots and Giants have played only eight times when the game has counted, so it’s “no Yankees-Red Sox” rivalry, as linebacker Mike Vrabel correctly noted.

Still, it is Boston and New York, as Richard Seymour pointed out. In other words, enough said.

“I think it’s two cities that put a lot of pride in their sports,” Seymour said. “The fans are tremendously supportive in both regards, Boston and New York, and rightfully so. They pull for their teams.

“I think as a player you want to play in an atmosphere where people care. The fans that we have here, they definitely care, and I know the ones in New York do as well. We’re definitely excited about this matchup.”

Jenkins in draft?
A clearly relaxed Bruschi had the line of the week while entertaining the press at his locker Friday. “Bill (Belichick) told us we’re going to practice at Arizona State,” said Bruschi, who attended the rival University of Arizona. “I’m like, ‘Yuck, the Arizona State Scum Devils.’ That’s how I still feel about it.” … Preseason predictions are great because everyone forgets about them after the season. It would be remiss, however, to overlook T&G colleague Bill Doyle. Our resident Celtics/TV/golf guy predicted the Patriots would go 16-0 and win the Super Bowl. Batting .500 is pretty good, but here’s hoping Doyle goes 2 for 2. … South Florida cornerback Mike Jenkins seems to be the early choice in mock drafts to go to the Patriots with that No. 7 overall pick. … Ninety days until the draft.

Worcester Telegram & Gazette News


Opinion by Greg Hansen : Bruschi puts Tucson on hold
Ex-Wildcat star staying in Glendale, but family will hang out with relatives here
Opinion by Greg Hansen
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 01.27.2008

Arizona's 1993, 1994 and 1995 All-American Tedy Bruschi won't be able to make it to Tucson before Super Bowl XLII, but his family — wife, Heidi, and sons Tedy Jr., Rex and Dante — plan to spend much of the week here with Heidi's family.


Heidi's father, Bill Bomberger, is a physician's assistant in Tucson. Her mother, Victoria Bomberger, is a Tucson real estate executive.
You can pardon Heidi, a former Sahuaro High School and UA volleyball standout, if she is a bit hesitant to return to Glendale, site of the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl.


Bomberger was Sahuaro's top volleyball player when the Cougars reached the 4A state championship matches in 1991 and 1992. Both games were played in Glendale. The Cougars lost both games. Her final high school volleyball game, on Nov. 14, 1992, not only was played in Glendale, but it was a loss to Glendale Cactus High School.


The Bomberger family was steeped in football before Heidi and Tedy met while student-athletes at the UA. Bill was a fullback/kicker on those great Nebraska teams of the late '60s and early '70s. His son, Rex, who died while in high school, was a quarterback at Sahuaro. The Bruschis named their second child after Rex.

Opinion by Greg Hansen : Bruschi puts Tucson on hold | www.azstarnet.com ®

Bruschi knows what it's all about

By Michael Vega, Globe Staff | January 27, 2008

FOXBOROUGH - Rodney Harrison stood in front of his locker Friday at Gillette Stadium, his left hand casually dangling over a hook that also held his helmet, when he was asked about the ringleader of the Patriots' defense, 12th-year linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

Asked if Bruschi was the heart and soul of the defense, the veteran safety nodded in agreement.

"That's Bruschi," he said.

To illustrate his point, Harrison took his finger and circled it around the Patriots decal on his helmet.

"That is Bruschi right there," he said. "That emblem right there, that's Bruschi."

While Bruschi's rugged profile might have been used as the model when the Patriots redesigned their logo - updating it from the squatting Pat Patriot to the sleek Flying Elvis - there was a deeper symbolism in Harrison's remarks.

"He's what this Patriot team is about," Harrison said. "Unselfishness, commitment, dedication, teamwork, hard work . . . just everything."

Just as he has every season since he was picked in the third round (86th overall) of the 1996 draft out of the University of Arizona, Bruschi has embodied those traits as New England's defensive captain, not to mention its leading tackler this season with 99 stops (69 unassisted).

Well before he prepared to board the charter flight for Phoenix today, Bruschi talked about making the fifth Super Bowl trip of his career.

"The first time I went in '96, I was sort of awestruck by the atmosphere and the excitement of everyone walking in the streets," recalled Bruschi, who is one of two current Patriots (with receiver Troy Brown) who were at that Super Bowl. "It did seem like it was one big party at times in New Orleans back then.

"It was a good thing that we had good veterans back then who helped me learn; guys like Chris Slade, Willie McGinest, Bruce Armstrong, Ben Coates, Keith Byars were on the team, and they stressed to us how lucky we were to be there and really to focus on the game."

Bruschi plans to give the same advice to his younger teammates.

"A lot of guys have come up to me, or a lot of players who have already been there and sort of know the protocol of how we handle things, and asked, 'What's Monday like? What's Tuesday like? Wednesday?' So I think we can give them a little bit of advice in terms of how it was when I was there before."

What else will he tell teammates?

"I would just say to enjoy it, really," Bruschi said. "I think the first couple of days, you do have some time to enjoy it. We'll arrive [today] and guys are already planning to go out a little bit, have dinner together and enjoy each other's company [tomorrow]. Tuesday, Media Day, that's just a lot of fun.

"You realize that it is a game and a lot of stress can be built up for these games. But you still go down there to have a great time and realize you have a job to do still."

Bruschi will be doing that job not far from where he made his name as an undersized but seldom overmatched defensive tackle who earned All-America and All-Pac 10 honors as a senior at Arizona, where he tied the NCAA Division 1-A career record with 52 sacks.

"Yeah, this one's a little bit more special for me than all the others in terms of where I'm going," said Bruschi. "I have fond memories of the state of Arizona where I played college football [in Tucson], about an hour and a half south of where we'll be.

"Coming back from the stroke that I had in [February] 2005, there are a lot of things I can sort of smile at and realize that I'm back in the Super Bowl and it feels really good to be here."

Bruschi joked about the fact the Patriots were going to be using the practice facilities of his college's archrival, Arizona State. Asked if he would have to shower before setting foot on the Sun Devils' campus in Tempe, Bruschi smiled and said, "Yeah, maybe twice."

Although the Patriots may have rewritten the NFL record book with their high-flying offensive attack, led by Tom Brady (50 touchdown passes) and Randy Moss (23 TD catches), there was no denying that the defense rose up when it mattered in a 21-12 victory over San Diego in the AFC Championship game.

After the Chargers were held to four field goals, coach Bill Belichick hugged Bruschi during the postgame celebration and said, "Great job in the red area."

Later, Bruschi proclaimed, "This is what we consider Patriots football."

It was a hard-nosed, gritty, and determined effort that was emblematic of their defensive ringleader.

"I've always said that he's the Elvis on our helmet," said veteran linebacker Junior Seau. "He's been able to establish such a culture here, with the rest of the guys around him, that there's always going to be a staple guy.

"To me, Tedy Bruschi and Tommy are always going to be the defensive and offensive staples of this culture."

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com

Bruschi knows what it's all about - The Boston Globe

Defense leader Bruschi has become image Patriots

BY TOM ROCK

tom.rock@newsday.com

January 27, 2008


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - All the Patriots have a picture of Tedy Bruschi hanging in their Gillette Stadium lockers. There are even special hooks for them.

"That's Bruschi," veteran safety Rodney Harrison said, pointing to his helmet. "This is him right here. That emblem, that's Tedy Bruschi."

What the players mean is that the logo on their helmets, the one of the grimacing Minuteman profiled with the triangulated nose and chin, might as well be a snapshot of the most respected man on the team.

It's not like Jerry West, whose actual outline became the logo for the NBA. Bruschi didn't sit and pose for the graphic artists. This is more of an impressionistic representation.

"I love Tedy Bruschi," fellow linebacker Junior Seau said. Referring to the decal that some say also looks a little like a certain pop icon, he added: "He is the Elvis on our helmet."

Bruschi, the King of Patriots Linebackers, almost turned out like Elvis with an early demise. In February 2005, shortly after he and the Patriots won their third Super Bowl title in four years, Bruschi, 31, suffered a stroke.

His career - and his life - seemed in jeopardy. Pictures of Bruschi rolling around the grass field before Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, wrestling with his kids to blow off pregame tension, suddenly became more poignant than cute.

But Bruschi fought back and returned to the football field in October 2005 with his teammates.

Now, nearly three years after the stroke, Bruschi will make a return to the top of his profession. And he has a new appreciation for the accomplishment.

"Coming back from the stroke that I had in 2005, there are a lot of things that I can sort of smile at and realize that I'm back in the Super Bowl and it feels really good to be here," he said.

He has played no small role in getting the Patriots back to the big one. For the second straight year, Bruschi led the defense in tackles as the man in the middle. He had 99 this season, 124 last year.

To the surprise of some, those are the only two times in his 12-year career that Bruschi has led the Patriots in stops. But he's been leading the team for the better part of the last decade. And he's a prototypical Bill Belichick player: able to take his already substantial athletic skills (he's the NCAA's all-time sacks leader) and elevate them even higher through mental preparation and hard work.

That's why the players see Bruschi in the logo. "He's been able to establish such a culture here with all the guys around him that there's always going to be a staple guy," Seau said. "To me, Tedy Bruschi, Tommy [Brady], those guys are the staples of this culture."

Added Harrison, still admiring the artwork on his helmet: "That sums up Tedy Bruschi and what this Patriot team is about: unselfishness, commitment, dedication, teamwork, hard work, just everything."

Naturally, some of the Patriots who are first-timers to the Super Bowl have approached the veterans with questions, or just seeking advice. Many crowd around Bruschi, who can hold the attention of the locker room unlike anyone else on the squad.

What does Bruschi tell them?

"I would just say to enjoy it, really," he said. "Realize that it is a game and a lot of stress can be built up for these games, but you still go down there to have a great time . . . and realize you have a job to do still."

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

http://www.newsday.com/sports/football/giants/ny-spbrewski275553964jan27,0,4615277.story


BRUSCHI COMEBACK AN INSPIRATION


Playing in Super Bowl XLII will complete an amazing comeback for stroke victim Tedy Bruschi.

In February 2005 the New England linebacker suffered a mild stroke, just days after helping the Patriots to a third world championship in four years.

At that stage just playing again appeared to be a long shot, never mind making it right back to the very top.

But on Sunday in Phoenix he'll crown an amazing renaissance by trying to cap a perfect 19-0 season with the all-conquering Pats.

After arriving in Arizona for the big game Bruschi told the waiting media: "I hold each and every World Championship as a special place in my heart. Going to every Super Bowl - even the one in 1996 where we lost to the Green Bay Packers - those are experiences you'll never forget. But, to help this team get back to this point is a sort of a victory for me in itself.

"I have been working with the American Stroke Association a lot, and I know this is a victory for all stroke survivors, as well. I realise the whole grasp of things I've been able to accomplish. People have talked to me about being an inspiration to them, and a lot of stroke survivors talk to me.

"I respect that and I am humbled by it. It is something that I am proud to call myself - a stroke survivor."

Bruschi's amazing story has been an inspiration to many of other stroke victims, something the man himself takes immense pride in.

He said: "They tell me their story and how (mine) relates to them. My doctors tell me that their patients light up every time they tell somebody, 'This is the same thing Ted Bruschi went through. If he can get back to playing professional football, then you can be a normal, functioning human being also.'"

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has shared in three Super Bowl victories with Bruschi so far, and paid tribute to one of his locker-room leaders.

"Tedy is a tremendous football player, a great competitor and he is a great person. He has been a captain for us and a strong leader on our team since I have been here. That goes all the way back to his rookie year in '96, which was the year I was here. It was his first year coming in from Arizona and we were trying to find a role for him defensively and in the kicking game and converting him from a down lineman.

"He has had a big impact on that organisation since the first day he got there. What he went through after the '04 season and heading in '05 was something that very few people really go through, especially at that age. I know there were difficult times for him and times that he didn't ever think he would play football again.

"We are all happy it worked out the way it did. Tedy, kind of like Junior, had a great energy and enthusiasm for the game and for competition that inspirational to all of us, not just the younger players, but I think every player and coach on the team that works with Tedy feels that same positive vibe that he gives off. It's awesome just to have him as a part of our organisation. He has been invaluable."

http://www.sportinglife.com/nfl/news/story_get.cgi?STORY_NAME=American_Football/08/01/28/manual_082947.html

Patriots Bruschi has come a long way since suffering a stroke
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star

PHOENIX | They sat at a restaurant in Boston planning Tedy Bruschi’s life after football.

Bruschi, the New England Patriots’ veteran linebacker, was recovering from a mild stroke he suffered in February 2005, less than two weeks after winning his third Super Bowl and days after playing in his first Pro Bowl.

He had regained his coordination, vision and was back in training. In the midst of discussing investments, insurance, annuities and post-career opportunities on that late summer day, Bruschi tapped his agent, Brad Blank, on the knee, leaned over and whispered the unimaginable.

“I’m going to play again,” Bruschi said.

“I know, next year,” Blank said, trying to appease his client.

“No,” Bruschi said, “I’m going to play again in four weeks.”

Bruschi’s wife, Heidi, didn’t want him to play football again. Neither did his doctor, Patriots owner Robert Kraft or Blank. Bruschi already owned three Super Bowl rings, had three sons and plenty of money in the bank.

“He knew better to ask my opinion,” said Blank. “I told him it was crazy. I said, ‘I don’t want you to be the next Reggie Lewis,’ the Celtics player who died from heart issues.”

Bruschi turned down a generous retirement package offered by the Patriots. He passed every physical the doctors gave him that summer. He was activated on Oct. 29, 2005, and started nine of the last 10 games of the season. He led the Patriots in tackles in 2006.

But those two seasons ended with road losses in the playoffs. Not until this week, with the Patriots returning to the Super Bowl with an unblemished 18-0 record and favored to win their fourth championship in seven years, did it dawn on Bruschi just how far he has come since that night of Feb. 15, 2005.

That’s when a blood clot passed through a small hole in the upper chamber of his heart and lodged in his brain. Had the clot moved a few more millimeters, it might have killed him.

“After my stroke, I was just thinking about being a functioning father and husband,” said a misty-eyed Bruschi. “I thought I’d never be a regular person again. Once I kept getting better and better, I couldn’t believe this was even a possibility. Then, it looked like I was going to be able to come back. I just kept working and kept working …

“And then to play the way I’ve been playing, and help our team get to this point now, I can’t tell you how satisfying this feels.”

•••

Bruschi’s lasting memory prior to the stroke was having the field in Jacksonville all to himself as he romped around with sons Tedy Jr. and Rex before the Patriots beat Philadelphia in Super Bowl XXXIX.

“That’s the last image I have before everything sort of went haywire,” he recalled. “The Pro Bowl was sort of a blur. The feelings I’m experiencing right now, I wish I could explain to you, but I can’t.”

Bruschi, 34, led the Patriots with 99 tackles in 2007, and his 15 tackles in two playoff games are second to fellow linebacker Junior Seau’s 16.

He also made one of the key plays in the AFC championship game when he got a hand on a pass intended for San Diego tight end Antonio Gates in the end zone, forcing the Chargers to kick a field goal in New England’s 21-12 victory.

“I think his story is incredibly inspirational,” Dr. David Greer, a specialist in stroke neurology who treated Bruschi, told the Boston Herald. “It’s a pretty amazing thing what he’s been able to do. I didn’t know that he’d be totally normal by the end, but he is. I put him through the wringer, and the football field has put him through much more of a wringer than I ever could.

“I use him as an example that will often light up patients’ faces to hear about him, and hear how he beat the odds. Sometimes I have patients who had the same type problem as him. He’s talked about the little hole in the heart. That comes up in two or three of every 10 patients. So that’s something in particular that’s helpful.”

Bruschi, in fact, wrote a book, Never Give Up: My Stroke, My Recovery and My Return to the NFL as a means to inspire stroke victims. Each year, about 700,000 Americans suffer a stroke — a sudden injury to the brain caused by a blood vessel bursting or becoming blocked. Only 10 percent of victims recover almost completely, while 25 percent more recover with minor impairments.

“I wanted to raise stroke awareness,” said Bruschi, an official spokesman for the American Stroke Association. “When I had my stroke, I didn’t realize I was having a stroke when I was going through it at the moment. I would hope this would open some eyes to particular people in my age group that it can happen … and this is what I went through, this is how I was able to come back and stand in front of you right now.”

Bruschi also learned something about himself while writing the book.

“It was a very emotional book,” he said. “I talk about how the stroke affected my marriage, and reliving every single page was sort of emotionally trying at times. One of the main things I learned was as professional athletes, we think we’re such big, strong individuals and confident and mentally tough that we can handle anything ourselves. Sometimes you can’t, and you need the help of people, and there are a lot of people that helped me come back.”

•••

When Bruschi takes the field on Sunday against the New York Giants, it will be his fifth Super Bowl and his 22nd playoff game, which would move him into a tie for 14th on the all-time list for postseason games.

His contract expires after this season, and after serving as his own agent for most of his first nine seasons, Bruschi will be represented by Blank, whom he called upon for help after the stroke.

“We had mutual friends, and I used to criticize him because he was always taking the hometown discount on contracts,” Blank said of Bruschi, who earned $1.35 million this year, well below market for someone of his accomplishments.

Blank can’t get a read on whether Bruschi will continue to play next year, especially if the Patriots finish the season 19-0.

It may be the perfect way for Bruschi, who played at the University of Arizona, to ride into the sunset.

“There might be other stories that are great comeback stories,” Blank said. “There’s always those sports movies like ‘Invincible’ or ‘The Rookie’ or the 1980 Olympic hockey team or ‘Seabiscuit’, where the themes are similar.

“But I can guarantee you there’s no one who ever had a stroke and played professional football after that.”

And won a Super Bowl.

http://www.kansascity.com/sports/story/463729.html

1/27/08
Tedy Bruschi Press Conference Quotes
New England Patriots linebacker addresses the media during his press conference at Patriots team headquarters in Scottsdale Arizona on January 27, 2008.


(on expectations and feeling invincible)
"Even ourselves - within this team - we don't consider ourselves invincible. The minute you consider yourself invincible, you are letting your guard down. If you think you can't be beat, that's the wrong thought to have. I think you have to respect your opponent, first and foremost, and if you don't then you will be beat. The way you do win football games is by doing the things that help you win. It's preparing during the week and playing good football. If you don't recognize that and if you don't do that, it's possible that we can be beat."

(on if the Patriots have spoiled fans by winning by large margins)
"I don't know about spoiling people, but you'd have to ask them. It was something that I wasn't used to. I wasn't used to 52-7 or 52-14 or anything like that. What I've been used to my entire career are the games we've experienced the last two months. That's what I'm used to - to have to grit your teeth and win in the fourth quarter. That's what I think this football team is all about."

(on extra significance to this game due to being undefeated)
"I hold each and every World Championship as a special place in my heart. Going to every Super Bowl - even the one in 1996 where we lost to the Green Bay Packers - those are experiences you'll never forget. But, to help this team get back to this point is a sort of a victory for me in itself. I have been working with the American Stroke Association a lot, and I know this is a victory for all stroke survivors, as well. I realize the whole grasp of things I've been able to accomplish. People have talked to me about being an inspiration to them, and a lot of stroke survivors talk to me. I respect that and I am humbled by it. It is something that I am proud to call myself - a stroke survivor."

(on if he receives letters from other stroke victims)
"Constantly. Letters, fan mail, emails. They tell me their story and how (mine) relates to them. My doctors tell me that their patients light up every time they tell somebody, ‘This is the same thing Ted Bruschi went through. If he can get back to playing professional football, then you can be a normal, functioning human being also.'"

(on if there has been one particularly inspirational letter)
"How much time do you have? There were so many that were. Most of the letters are really heartfelt letters. I don't receive your average, everyday fan mail. To tell you the truth, I receive stories of adversity, whether they are cancer survivors or stroke survivors. If any of them tell me they have been able to draw inspiration from what I've been able to do, it's incredibly honoring."

(on the excitement of being here)
"I would have liked to have seen sunshine out here instead of rain. We left snow and came to rain, but it's sort of fitting I guess. It starts to hit you now. You can feel the excitement now with all the attention and all the exposure. With the police escorts, all the red lights are now green when you're driving around town. I think the excitement from all the players is evident now. As the week progresses, it will just become more and more."

(on if this is the time when pacing yourself become important)
"I think so. I think it's important for all of us to exhale a little bit now that we're here. We need to enjoy each other's company for a day or two because it is still early in the week. Guys have plans to go out to dinner and spend time with each other. A little time with the fellas is going to be fun. I think we have time for that now. But, realizing that when the time comes - following media day - it will be time to get back to work."

(on how special it is to be in Arizona where he played in college)
"I still feel so close to the state of Arizona that (I knew early) we're practicing at the Arizona State facility. It was our archrival in college. We referred to them as the ‘Scum Devils,' and they had names for us also. Being here on this campus is ironic to me. When coach (Bill) Belichik told us we were practicing at the Arizona State facility, it gave me a little chill. But still, the entire state of Arizona is a state I feel very fond of."

(on how he fared playing ASU)
"My last collegiate game was against ASU at Sun Devil Stadium, where I tied the career sack record when I sacked Jake Plummer with a minute left in the fourth quarter. I remember that. I remember all of those times. I remember we were down 10 or 14 points with five minutes to go and we came back to win. We had a lot of success against Arizona State. I am not disgruntled about being here because they beat us a lot, because we [also] did have a lot of success."

(on if there was a particular game after his stroke that told him, "I'm back.")
"With me, it was a progression. I had to make my first tackle. Once I made my first tackle, I would consciously get up and say, ‘Okay, there's a tackle.' I would have two or three 300-pounders on top of me laying on me, and my wife told me that if I came back there is a ‘three-second rule.' I can't be on the ground for more than three seconds. Things like that. I had experienced ‘firsts' all over again after coming back form the stroke, knowing it had never been done before. No one had ever done it before. I don't know if any one ever thought about it being consciously possible. I knew I had to experience these things before I felt like I'd be back to that regular player. As the season progressed… That first season back had a lot of ‘firsts' for me. I had a good game against the Tampa Bay Bucs. I forget the statistics, but in terms of a moment for me when I really thought, ‘I'm back and am the player that I was,' the confirmation for me came when I started (winning). I mean, we are here. ‘Pro Bowl-caliber' are words we don't consciously think about in our locker room. We would rather be championship-caliber. I really wanted to make myself a championship-caliber linebacker. Through the playoffs the last three years and finally getting here now, I think I can say - not us - but I'm all the way back."

(on what his biggest risk was in coming back from the stroke)
"I think the one thing they had to watch out most was that they had to monitor the device in my heart. What they told me was that I was in a data-free zone. There weren't really tests that I could base myself off of. No one had really done this before. Every couple weeks I would go in and visit my doctors during the season and do an ultrasound of the heart or an echocardiogram to monitor the progress. After the first couple, it was sort of nerve-racking. What if it dislodged or it didn't take or anything like that? My doctors pretty much assured me that it wouldn't. But, when you talk to people in the medical profession, words that they use are ‘shouldn't' or ‘we don't think it will happen.' But, there is always that slight possibility. Hearing that, that sort of plants a seed in your mind that this could happen, that this could happen or this can possibly happened. I think those tests and seeing those tests are really confidence builders for me, and that it was going to be okay."

(on the Giants' late surge)
"Watching film prior to our first game and then now watching film prior to the Super Bowl, I really recognize an incredible mental toughness that they have now. They had some before, but I think that going on the road three times in the playoffs and winning the way they did - especially in Green Bay - you can really see it through the film. They really do respond to adversity well no matter what the score is or situation is or how much time is on the clock. They really just focus on what they have to do to win the game."

(on what he makes of his Hall of Fame chances)
"Guys, that is just a question I won't even entertain right now. I'm sorry."

(on Hall of Fame chances for other Patriots players)
"If anyone on this team seriously answers this question for you, I'd be seriously surprised. And if anybody does, let me know. Then I'll have to talk to them."

(On if he can relate to the Bills' Kevin Everett)
"I think I just feel a little bit more after what I went through. When I was a younger player, you see things happen and you genuinely hope that they will be OK. When you have gone through adversity of your own, you can really relate to what they are going through. Not just Kevin Everett, but also Mike Alstott. When we played them in the preseason - it was the night he announced he was having neck problems and was going to be put on IR - I searched him out after the game and told him I was thinking about him and that I wished him well with whatever he decided. Of course, he is retired now and a lot of those things I can relate to. I can empathize with the player."

(On if he has paid attention to Everett's situation)
"I have been knee-deep in the football season, but I have tried to. Really, it's what I've seen on the TV and the announcement he made before we played them in Buffalo. It was humorous that night because you feel so great for him. He is making an announcement to his teammates, he is trying to get the crowd fired up, and then he says, ‘Okay, let's go beat the Patriots!' Then you realize what side you're on. It's great to see him, though. I saw him walking in the locker room one time talking to his teammates, and that's an incredible story this year."

Tedy Bruschi Press Conference Quotes

 TEDY TAKES SUPER JOURNEY

By GEORGE WILLIS

January 28, 2008 -- SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - There was a time Tedy Bruschi just wanted to "function as a family man again." Never mind trying to play professional football or win another Super Bowl. That's natural when you've suffered a stroke. But there he was late yesterday, sitting at another Super Bowl podium talking about winning another championship.

Getting ready to face the Giants in Super Bowl XLII wasn't even on the radar screen when Bruschi suffered a stroke soon after Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005.

"I had a cardiologist tell me, 'Don't worry we'll get you back out there,' and I wanted to strangle him because I wasn't thinking about that at all," Bruschi said. "All I was thinking about was functioning as a family man.

"But as I got better and better I thought maybe this is possible. Getting back in 2005 was an incredible journey."

Getting back to the Super Bowl, especially this Super Bowl, has been an incredible journey as well. Eighteen wins without a defeat. The setting couldn't be better either considering Bruschi played collegiately at the University of Arizona in nearby Tucson.

"I'm in a state I feel very fond of and where I have a lot of history," Bruschi said. "To be here is sort of like coming full circle because it was so recent after our third Super Bowl that (the stroke) happened. To be here in the state of Arizona is very special."

Bruschi hasn't put his stroke in the rear view mirror. When he takes the field on Sunday, he will be representing all stroke survivors.

"I work with the American Stroke Association a lot," he said. "This is a victory for all stroke survivors. I realize the whole grasp of things I'vebeen able to accomplish. A lot of stroke survivors look up to me. So I'm proud to call myself a stroke survivor."

The Patriots landed here late yesterday amid a steady rain that fell throughout the day. But it didn't dampen the players' spirits.

"It starts to hit you now," Bruschi said. "You can feel the excitement with all the attention and the exposure."

 

http://www.nypost.com/seven/01282008/sports/tedy_takes_super_journey_364505.htm

News and Notes:

No tackling this one

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi seemed taken aback when asked by a reporter about his chances of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. At first, he brushed off the question. When a reporter then asked him about the Hall of Fame chances of some teammates, Bruschi said he wouldn't answer the question and "seriously doubted" that any of his teammates would either. When a different reporter started to ask a question, a serious-looking Bruschi turned back to the reporter who asked about the Hall of Fame and said: "If anybody does [answer the question], let me know because I need to talk to them."

There's a real desert breeze - The Boston Globe

 

Tedy Bruschi: ”My favorite memory is running on the field with my kids before the Super Bowl in Jacksonville. The Super Bowl is a time when you enjoy things with your family, and sort of celebrate the year everyone has made sacrifices for. My kids, my family, all of our friends and families have made sacrifices for us because of all the hours we put in here. To have a moment with them before the biggest game of my career was something I’ll always remember.”

 

http://news.bostonherald.com/sports/football/patriots/view.bg?articleid=1069479&srvc=home&position=recent

Pats' Bruschi Inspires Stroke Survivors

By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — There was a time when Tedy Bruschi was unsure he'd be able to go to a football game again, let alone play in one. Yet here he is nearly three years later, fully recovered from a stroke and back at the Super Bowl as one of the unbeaten New England Patriots' defensive leaders.

"To help this team get back to this point is a victory for me in itself," the playmaking linebacker said. "I have been working with the American Stroke Association a lot and I know this is a victory for all stroke survivors, as well. I realize the whole group of things I've been able to accomplish."

What he's done has been nothing short of incredible. Bruschi led the Patriots for the second straight season in tackles despite the stroke, which severely impaired his vision and affected his motor skills in February 2005.

"People have talked to me about being an inspiration to them and a lot of stroke survivors talk to me," he said. "I respect that and I am humbled by it. It is something that I am proud to call myself: a stroke survivor."

Just 10 days after helping New England win the Super Bowl, and three days after playing in the Pro Bowl, Bruschi was hospitalized with what was described as a minor stroke. For a 31-year-old football player whose life is all about hitting others with as much force as possible, there was nothing minor about it.

"What he went through was something that very few people really go through, especially at that age," coach Bill Belichick said. "I know there were difficult times for him and times that he didn't ever think he would play football again."

In the weeks afterward, Bruschi had blurred vision and had to relearn how to walk. Even as he left a Boston hospital after being treated, he walked tentatively, his wife, Heidi, beside him and football the furthest thing from his mind.

But after having surgery to repair a hole in his heart, Bruschi vigorously began an improbable comeback.

"I think the one thing they had to watch out for most was that they had to monitor the device in my heart," he said. "What they told me was that I was in a data-freeze zone. There weren't really tests that I could base myself off of. No one had really done this before."

Bruschi said the battery of tests were nerve-racking and he wondered what would happen if the device dislodged or didn't take correctly.

"My doctors pretty much assured me that it wouldn't, but when you talk to people in the medical profession, words that they use are 'shouldn't' or 'We don't think it will happen,'" he said. "But there is always that slight possibility. Hearing that, that sort of plants a seed in your mind that this could happen, that this could happen or this can possibly happen. I think those tests and seeing those tests are really confidence builders for me, and that it was going to be OK."

Bruschi missed the first six games of the 2005 season before being cleared to return. He then played nine in a row, including a 10-tackle performance against Buffalo in his first game back.

"I'll always remember being on the field and starting next to Tedy that game after he came back from a stroke," fellow linebacker Mike Vrabel recalled. "I'll remember the reaction from the fans and the reaction from the players. It was special."

Bruschi still hears from fans who have been inspired by his courageous comeback or are going through a similar situation.

"Constantly," he said. "Letters, fan mail, e-mails. They tell me their story and how (mine) relates to them. My doctors tell me that their patients light up every time they tell somebody, 'This is the same thing Ted Bruschi went through. If he can get back to playing professional football, then you can be a normal, functioning human being also.'"

This Super Bowl has taken on even more special meaning for Bruschi: He attended the University of Arizona. He was a defensive force for the Wildcats, tying the NCAA Division I sacks mark with 52, and was drafted by the Patriots in the third round of the 1996 draft.

Bruschi is preparing for the big game in enemy territory, though, because New England is practicing at Arizona State's football facility.

"It was our archrival in college," he said with a smile. "Being here on campus is ironic to me. When Coach Belichick told us we were practicing at the Arizona State facility, it gave me a little chill. But still, the entire state of Arizona is a state I feel very fond of."

He hopes to leave the Valley of the Sun a champion again.

"We don't consider ourselves invincible. The minute you consider yourself invincible, you're letting your guard down," Bruschi said. "If you think you can't be beat, that's the wrong thought to have. ... The way you do win football games is by doing the things that help you win — preparing during the week and playing good football."

The Associated Press: Pats' Bruschi Inspires Stroke Survivors

January 28, 2008
Tedy Bruschi: Coming Back from Tragedy for a Chance to Make History, Again

by Bryan Thiel (Analyst)


Tedy Bruschi has played in the NFL for a while. He's been through preseason games, regular season games, Super Bowls, and Pro Bowls.

But nothing quite like this.

Granted this is Bruschi's fifth Super Bowl. There was the loss to the Packers in 1996, and then the championships in 2001, 2003, and 2004.

This one, however, will be a little bit different.

It's Bruschi's "biggest game" since suffering a stroke.

On February 15th, 2005, Tedy Bruschi awoke with numbness in the left side of his body, a lack of balance, and the beginning stages of a headache.

Convinced it was nothing, Bruschi let the symptoms simmer, until a call to his father-in-law convinced he and his wife Heidi that something was seriously wrong with the Patriots linebacker.

Before calling 911, however, the symptoms began to get worse, as Bruschi's headache its intensity, and his vision started to blur.

After a thirty-five minute ambulance ride to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston with his wife and extensive hospital testing, it was determined that Tedy Bruschi was suffering a stroke.

A player who had gone head-to-head with 300-pound lineman was now at odds with himself; with his own health.

It was determined that Bruschi's stroke had been caused by a blood clot. A clot that was caused, by a "hole in his heart".

A condition that had been with him (unknown to anyone) since his birth, the hole (or Patent Foramen Ovale, or PFO) had opened between two ventricles, allowing blood to pass between then. A clot then formed, and traveled up to the right side of his brain. Fortunately for Bruschi, the clot never reached a larger trouble-area in his brain.

If that had happened, there's no telling what damage could have been done.

Bruschi returned home, where he would await surgery to mend his heart.

Until the surgery, Bruschi's life became a whirlwind of activity: awaiting his nurse (Debbie Reynolds) to administer his blood-thinners, injections of Framin (a drug that prevents clotting, injected into the stomach), and dealing with his imminent retirement.

On March 15th of that same year, Bruschi underwent surgery to repair his PFO. Through the femoral artery, a small device (described in his book as being "as thin as pencil lead") was sent through the bloodstream up to Bruschi's heart. Upon being released over the PFO, the device expanded to the size of a nickel, and the heart was allowed to heal overtop of the device sealing the hole.

All that was left was the rehab.

The rehab process had actually begun in February, prior to Bruschi's surgery, with Anne Jacobson. Despite Bruschi's struggles and his pent-up frustration, Anne always found an improvement in Bruschi.

From learning to walk again, to running, to improving his motor skills, Anne always encouraged Tedy to keep working for it, to keep striving to get himself healthy again.

Until one day, rehab was over. Bruschi was ready to return to the field.

In a surprising move, Bruschi confronted Bill Belichick with a desire to play. This was the same Tedy Bruschi who retired from football "permanently" in March following his stroke. This was the same Tedy Bruschi who was preparing to accept a position within the Patriots organization in order to still be able to feed his family.

This is the same Tedy Bruschi, who just a few months earlier, turned down the idea of "just taking a year off".

For a while, after announcing his comeback, Bruschi said that he would, in fact, take the rest of the year off, and come back in 2006. Well, Bruschi's mind had changed (again) and he began eyeing a Week 8 return.

After getting back into game shape, Bruschi was only six weeks behind his teammate's development wise - Bruschi was prepared for an October 30th contest against the Buffalo Bills.

From that first game of his comeback against the Bills, to the AFC Championship game a week ago against the Chargers, Tedy Bruschi has had a different outlook on the game of football, and the game of life.

The Super Bowl may be the most meaningful game of the Patriots season, but of Bruschi's career? Hell, every game means the same.

It means he's back doing what he loves.

Bruschi realizes that he's lucky, but more-so, he realizes that he's a role model, and a success story that every stroke survivor can look up to and say "if Tedy can do it, why can't I?"

With that, Tedy, just go out there on Sunday, and give it your all.

Go out there and give it your all for Anne, Heidi, your sons, the doctors and everyone who supported you during your recovery.

Go out there and give it your all for every stroke survivor that your story gave a small glimmer of hope to.

Go out there and give it your all for my grandmother, Edith Agnes Willard, who died of a stroke in October of 2004, and everyone else who lost a family member to a stroke.

Go out and give it your all for Geoff Gignac and MaryLou Peters, two friends who are stuck in the recovery process, and everyone else forced to recover from such a potentially debilitating injury.

But most importantly, give it your all, not for 19-0, another ring, or a place in history - but because you love the game of football and your family so much, because you persevered when the going got tough, and because -in a time of so much negativity - you gave everyone a little glimmer of hope, as to what love - the love of a game, the love from the fans, or the love of your family can do.

Thank you Tedy Bruschi.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/7840-NFL-New_England_Patriots-Tedy_Bruschi_Coming_Back_from_Tragedy_for_a_Chance_to_Make_History_Again-280108

Three years after a stroke, Bruschi's back for his fifth Super Bowl
Pasquarelli

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

 

PHOENIX -- Nearly three years after Tedy Bruschi's brush with death, his locker stall overflows with fan mail.

Consider the passion with which the New England Patriots defensive captain performs, and it's easy to forget he suffered a stroke in February 2005.

But the thousands of fans who fill the plastic mail bins at Gillette Stadium with missives detailing their own setbacks and why Bruschi inspires them -- well, they've got long memories.

"To tell you the truth, I receive all kinds of stories of adversity, whether they are cancer survivors or stroke survivors," said Bruschi, preparing for his fifth Super Bowl appearance, earlier this week. "If any of those people tell me they've been able to draw inspiration from what I've been able to do … it's incredibly honoring."

Ask yourself this: As unparalleled as the Patriots' 2007 season has been, what is the more remarkable achievement? That this team is poised on the brink of NFL history, just one victory removed from the greatest season ever? Or that its spiritual and emotional leader was able to resume his career and again perform at a high level only eight months after suffering a stroke?

For many New England veterans, it is hardly a rhetorical question.

"What we've done," strong safety Rodney Harrison said, "is sport, not real life. What Tedy accomplished, it's pretty much a miracle, really. I mean, come on now, the two aren't even close."

It happened in the early morning hours of Feb. 16, 2005. It was only 10 days after Bruschi's interception of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb helped seal a 24-21 New England victory in Super Bowl XXXIX and only three days after the lone Pro Bowl appearance of his 12-year career.

Bruschi was snapped from a deep sleep by a throbbing pain in his neck and numbness in his left side. He attempted to go back to sleep, but the pain persisted, and when he sat up in bed, he noticed an absence of equilibrium and loss of his peripheral vision.

His wife, Heidi, made the 911 call, and within a few hours, specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital confirmed that Bruschi, at just 31 years of age, had suffered a stroke. Doctors subsequently determined that the stroke likely was precipitated by a blood clot traveling through a small hole in his heart, and just one month later, Bruschi underwent a procedure to address what is believed to have been a congenital defect.

Then began a period that Heidi Bruschi recently termed "the doubting time," when it appeared her husband might not play again, when merely regaining basic motor skills took precedence over sacking the quarterback on a delayed blitz up the middle.

"It was literally one step at a time," she recalled.

In May of that year, Bruschi acknowledged that he was uncertain he would ever play again. Two months later, The Associated Press reported he would miss the 2005 campaign. In September, Bruschi announced that he intended to return to the Patriots for the 2006 season. And then, on Oct. 16, only eight months after the stroke, he said he would come back for the remainder of the 2005 season.

Two weeks later, in a 21-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills, he recorded 10 tackles in his return performance.

Said Bruschi, who has established Tedy's Team to aid stroke victims and raise awareness that strokes are the country's leading debilitating affliction, in recalling the comeback: "It meant getting back to life as normal. That's supposed to be the goal of any stroke victim. To come as close to normal again as you can. My normal, playing football, is just a lot different than the definition of normal for most people, that's all. But everyone's battle is personal, you know? You try to work past the sort of stigma that's still attached to having a stroke. You try to get back to being as good as you can be."

Now, less than five months shy of his 35th birthday and about two weeks short of the third anniversary of the stroke, Bruschi is as good as ever.

Maybe even better.

For a second consecutive season, Bruschi has led all New England defenders in tackles. Forced to log increased snaps after a season-ending injury to outside linebacker Rosevelt Colvin prompted a lineup shuffle, Bruschi has held up remarkably well. He has two sacks and two pass deflections to go with his 99 tackles, and his terrific football instincts have compensated for the loss of maybe a half-step.

"He's just a great person,"coach Bill Belichick said.

That sentiment certainly is echoed by New England players. Several teammates have noted that the logo on the side of the Patriots' helmets, dubbed "The Flying Elvis" by someone a few years ago, actually resembles Bruschi's profile more than it does a silhouette of the The King. And during a Monday media session, Harrison pointed to the logo and spoke about how much Bruschi embodies the mind-set of this special team.

"On the field and off the field," Harrison said, "he's definitely special."

Sunday night's game against the New York Giants clearly is special for any number of reasons. For Bruschi, it represents the culmination of a full-circle journey, back to playing for another championship, in the kind of high-stakes contest in which he often has distinguished himself.

Adding to Bruschi's excitement is that the game will be played near where he starred as a collegiate defensive tackle, logging 52 sacks as an undersized down-lineman for the University of Arizona. That the Pats are practicing at the facilities of archrival Arizona State has provided Bruschi, a third-round choice in the 1996 draft who immediately was moved to linebacker by New England coaches, plenty of good-natured fodder. Clearly, though, Bruschi is serious about capping his nearly three-year rehabilitation of body and mind and soul with a victory.

"Yeah, it would mean a lot," Bruschi acknowledged. "But, then again, every day means a lot to me."

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

ESPN - Three years after a stroke, Bruschi's back for his fifth Super Bowl - NFL

Newsday.com
Pats LBs are old, slow and dangerous

Johnette Howard

2:58 PM EST, January 29, 2008

GLENDALE, Ariz.


They are not your typical snowbirds who come to Arizona for the heat and the sun. Just the Super Bowl. Junior Seau turned 39 days ago, which makes him a certifiable antique among NFL linebackers. New England inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi is a stroke survivor in his 12th NFL season, and he's hinting at retirement after Sunday's game against the Giants. Next to them, 11-year veteran Mike Vrabel can actually brag about being young despite the flecks of grey in his brushcut hair and beard.

Together they constitute three-quarters of a New England linebacking corps that - excluding 30-year-old Adalius Thomas - is often accused of being too old and slow and vulnerable. They have an answer for that, of course. "We are old," Bruschi has laughed. And so what? Maybe it's enough to be very, very smart.

As Seau could tell you there are a lot of ways to lose a half step that have more to do with being unable to read a play than your age or diminishing foot speed. In case no one noticed - and not many people did amid Brady's three-interception performance or Wes Welker's 11 catches or Laurence Maroney's rushing in the AFC title game - but it was Seau and Bruschi and Vrabel who made three of the biggest plays in the Patriots' touch-and-go win after the Chargers drove inside the Patriots' 22-yard line once, and inside the 10 another three times.

That was the supposedly lead-footed Bruschi who broke up a pass at the goal line intended for Chargers Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates.

That was Vrabel, still highly irritated at himself for giving up a pass completion on a previous play, blitzing Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and smacked him just enough with a leg whip that didn't get called, forcing Rivers into a bad throw that was intercepted.

That was Seau shooting a gap in the Chargers' line like he was 25 again and stuffing running back Michael Turner on a third-and-two play in the third quarter for a 2-yard loss.

The Chargers had to settle for field goals in all four trips. It was the difference between being in Super Bowl XLII or not. And the Giants have noticed.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning says one of the reasons the Giants pushed the unbeaten Patriots to the brink before losing, 38-35, in their regular-season finale is, "When we got inside the red zone we were able to score touchdowns." This time around, Manning said, the Giants have to remain aware of the Pats' linebackers.

"You have to be able to answer their blitzes and play a mistake-free game," Manning says. "They're not overly complicated. [But] if you do move the ball they will come with the blitzes. ... They try to get a sack, big plays. That's how they end drives."

All of them are dangerous. Bruschi has been known throughout the Patriots' dynastic run for making clutch plays, and his return to the NFL after a stroke has made him a sentimental story. Medical experts couldn't 100 percent guarantee him the electronic device in his heart couldn't be jarred off-beat by, say, a hit in a game. Now his wife has instituted what Bruschi calls "a three-second rule": No matter how many 300-pounders fall on him, he had to promise her in three seconds he'll be standing back up.

Vrabel has always been one of the players hoisted up as an epitome of the versatility Belichick asks of his team. He's moved from inside to outside linebacker during his career and has moonlighted as a touchdown-catching tight end in the Patriots' goal-line offense.

Seau, in just two seasons with the Patriots, is a team captain who is here to cross off one of the last items on his personal kick-the-bucket list. He's never won a Super Bowl. Like Vrabel or Bruschi, Seau says he never knows what Belichick might ask of him week to week.

Seau says one big difference between his heyday in San Diego, where he often freelanced to his heart's content as a younger star linebacker, is, "There's a system here ... It's like subcontracting a plumber or a roofer. Although you may be a plumber, Belichick would say, 'Go fix the roof.' If you worked on cabinets, Belichick will say, 'We want you to go work on this tree in the yard.' You have to be versatile and you have to be able to adjust. In this scheme, you have to be able to do more than just plug the 'A' and 'B' gap. You really do."

It's a lot to ask of anyone, especially three guys in the latter part of their careers. But Bruschi has the perfect answer to all that talk they're supposedly older, slower, not what they used to be.

"What's our record this season?" Bruschi laughs. "What's our record?"

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

Pats LBs are old, slow and dangerous -- Newsday.com

Tedy Bruschi's 'most special' Super Bowl yet
By Jim Corbett, USA TODAY

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tedy Bruschi is the embodiment of the New England Patriots' resilience.

The 12th-year inside linebacker savors this Super Bowl title shot more than his three rings won since 2001, and not because the defensive co-captain made one of the biggest defensive stops to key unbeaten New England's 21-12 AFC Championship Game win against the San Diego Chargers.

This Super Bowl XLII appearance was never promised to New England's inspirational leader.

After suffering a career-threatening stroke that left him with blurred vision, numbness in his left arm and leg (in addition to a halting gait) days after playing in his first Pro Bowl in February 2005, Bruschi has arguably come farther than any player to arrive at New England's Feb. 3 Super Bowl showdown against the New York Giants.

The longest-tenured Patriot other than receiver Troy Brown, Bruschi, 34, is returning to the Arizona desert, where he played collegiately for then-University of Arizona Wildcats coach Dick Tomey.

Nicknamed "Tedy Ballgame" by fans for his heart-and-soul passion, tireless work ethic and instinctive big plays, Bruschi is still playing at a high level after most doubted he would play again.

"This is the most special one yet," Bruschi told reporters an hour after the Patriots became the first NFL team to go 18-0 in one season. "Back in 2005, when we won the Super Bowl, I never thought I would be a regular person again after I had a stroke.

"Sometimes you think that something is impossible. I didn't know this was possible. But I just kept working, kept working, and here I am."

With the Patriots leading 7-3 Sunday and the Chargers inside the New England 10-yard line, Bruschi made a diving knockdown of Philip Rivers' pass intended for Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates at the goal line on second-and-goal.

In all, the Patriots held the Chargers to 6 yards on eight downs inside the New England 10-yard line, forcing San Diego to settle for Nate Kaeding field goals of 26, 23 and 24 yards.

"It was crucial that we had those red-zone stops," Bruschi says. "I mean, when you hug your coach after you've won the AFC championship and the first thing he says was, 'Great job in the red area,' you know it was important.

"These are the games we are used to. This is what we consider Patriot football."

Says Tomey, who now coaches at San Jose State: "I know how much hard work went into getting back with the stroke. At Arizona, his will to win and love for the game made players around him better.

"He's negotiated his own contracts with the Patriots. He's never wanted to leave them. He's just a unique individual in the present-day NFL.

"Tedy was as impressive a player on tape as I've ever seen coming out of high school. Yet people doubted him because of his height. He's proven everybody wrong throughout his entire life because of his intelligence, competitiveness and commitment to excellence.

"He does it right whether it's being a parent or a husband or teammate. He's the best."

Bruschi's wife, Heidi, and her family are from Tucson, so Bruschi will enjoy a sweet family reunion in his fifth Super Bowl as a Patriot, a trip that would have seemed improbable just three years ago.

"I've come a long way from thinking I was never going to play again to being here now," he says.

The ultimate Patriots survivor is one win from finding the perfect ending to a Super Bowl XLII comeback story like no other.

"With everything he's meant to that organization and overcoming his stroke, it's an extraordinary story," Tomey says.

Tedy Bruschi's 'most special' Super Bowl yet - USATODAY.com


New England Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi's comeback from a stroke is complete with trip to Super Bowl
Patriots' Bruschi is back in Super Bowl after surviving a stroke
BY DON SEEHOLZER
Pioneer Press
Article Last Updated: 01/29/2008


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Tedy Bruschi doesn't mean to come off sounding like Lou Gehrig.

But with all due respect to the late, great New York Yankees slugger, the New England Patriots' veteran linebacker will tell you he has to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

Struck down by a career-threatening stroke in February 2005, shortly after winning his third Super Bowl ring, Bruschi said making it to Super Bowl XLII definitely is something special.

"To help this team get back to this point is kind of a victory for me in itself," he said. "I have been working with the American Stroke Association a lot, and I know this is a victory for all stroke survivors as well. ... People have talked to me about being an inspiration to them, and a lot of stroke survivors talk to me. I respect that, and I am humbled by it. It is something that I am proud to call myself, a stroke survivor."

For sure, no player preparing for the Super Bowl has come further than Bruschi, who suffered his stroke just days after playing in his first Pro Bowl, leaving him with blurred vision and numbness in his left arm and leg.

He admits he had doubts that he could ever lead a normal life again, much less play football.

But in his heart, he knew he had to try.

"With me, it was a progression," he said. "I had to make my first tackle. Once I made my first tackle, I would consciously get up and say, 'OK, there's a tackle.' I would have two or three 300-pounders on top of me, laying on me, and my wife told me that if I came back, there is a three-second rule. I can't be on the ground for more than three seconds. Things like that."

Before he could do any of that, Bruschi spent three months on the physically unable to perform list, missing the first six games of the 2005 season.

In his first game back, he had 10 tackles against Buffalo and was named the AFC defensive player of the week. He finished the season as co-winner of the Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year Award with Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith.

Still, Bruschi said, it took getting back to the Super Bowl to make his comeback complete.

" 'Pro Bowl-caliber' are words we don't consciously think about in our locker room," he said. "We would rather be championship-caliber. Through the playoffs the last three years and finally getting here now, I think I can say, not us, but I'm all the way back."

Bruschi's teammates and coaches agree, adding they probably wouldn't be here without their inspirational leader.

"Every day I come to work with Tedy, I'm inspired," fellow linebacker Mike Vrabel said. "... I'll always remember being on the field and starting next to Tedy that game after he came back from a stroke. I'll remember the reaction from the fans and the reaction from the players. It was special, and I'll always remember it."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised Bruschi as a tremendous football player and competitor and great person, comparing his infectious enthusiasm to that of another veteran linebacker, Junior Seau.

"I think every player and coach on the team that works with Tedy feels that same positive vibe that he gives off," Belichick said. "It's awesome just to have him as a part of our organization. He has been invaluable."

The longest-tenured Patriots player after wide receiver Troy Brown, Bruschi, 34, had one of the big plays in New England's 21-12 victory over San Diego in the AFC title game, diving to knock down a pass intended for tight end Antonio Gates at the goal line.

That kind of play and his leadership qualities could land Bruschi in the Pro Football Hall of Fame some day, and his teammates say the 12-year veteran definitely is worthy.

"I don't vote, but if I did, I would certainly vote for him," Vrabel said. "His play only goes so far. It's his demeanor, the way he carries himself. Everybody says he represents the Patriots, and I agree with Rodney (Harrison), who is always pointing to the guy on the helmet. That's Tedy."

The consummate team-first player, Bruschi won't discuss his hall of fame chances, but he said the fact this Super Bowl is in the same state where he starred for the University of Arizona is something special.

No more special, though, than just being here, period.

The underdog New York Giants might be the sentimental favorites in Sunday's game, but a lot of people out there will be rooting for Bruschi, who has the letters to prove it.

"I don't receive your average, everyday fan mail," he said. "To tell you the truth, I receive stories of adversity, whether they are cancer survivors or stroke survivors. If any of them tell me they have been able to draw inspiration from what I've been able to do, it's incredibly honoring."

Don Seeholzer can be reached at dseeholzer@pioneerpress.com.

Tedy Bruschi's 'most special' Super Bowl yet - USATODAY.com

 

No respect for Tedy

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi has played in four Super Bowls and been a part of three championship teams. He's a Pro Bowl caliber player with 12 years in the league and one of the most recognizable faces on the 21st century Patriots dynasty.

You'd think his name would be spelled correctly at Media Day.

The placard above his booth at University of Phoenix Stadium got Tedy -- sometimes erroneously spelled "Teddy" -- correct, but spelled Bruschi as "Brushci".

When asked about the oversight, Bruschi laughed with a question of his own, "What did I do?"

Bruschi, a University of Arizona alum, did have a theory, though.

"Maybe it was an Arizona State alum," he smiled, when asked about the placard culprit.

Bruschi, a friend of Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who also attended Arizona, also proffered another theory about Boston's recent wealth of professional championships, noting "It took a Wildcat (Arizona's mascot) to bring a championship to Boston for both the Patriots and the Red Sox."

Before Francona arrived, the Red Sox had not won a World Series since 1918; they have two championships since he was hired as manager in 2004. Before Bruschi was drafted in 1996, the Patriots had played in just one Super Bowl, a 46-10 blowout loss to the Bears in 1986.

When asked about civic rival New York and their seven-year championship drought, linebacker Junior Seau let the crocodile tears flow, saying "I feel so bad."

No respect for Tedy - Sports Scope - USATODAY.com

Newsday.com
Patriots linebackers aged to perfection

Johnette Howard

January 30, 2008


GLENDALE, Ariz.


They are not your typical snowbirds who come to Arizona for the warmth and the sun. Just the Super Bowl. Junior Seau turned 39 days ago, which makes him a certifiable antique among NFL linebackers. New England inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi is a stroke survivor in his 12th NFL season, and he's hinting at retirement after Sunday's game. Next to them, 11-year veteran Mike Vrabel can actually brag about being young despite the flecks of gray in his brushcut hair and beard.

Together they constitute three-quarters of a New England linebacking corps that - excluding 30-year-old Adalius Thomas - is often accused of being too old and slow and vulnerable. They have an answer for that, of course. "We are old," Bruschi has laughed.

And so what? Maybe it's enough to be very, very smart. As Seau can tell you, there are a lot of ways to lose a half-step that have more to do with being unable to read a play than your age or diminishing foot speed. In case no one noticed - and not many people did amid Tom Brady's three-interception performance or Wes Welker's seven catches or Laurence Maroney's rushing in the AFC title game - but it was Seau and Bruschi and Vrabel who made three of the biggest plays in the Patriots' touch-and-go win after the Chargers drove inside the Patriots' 22-yard line once and inside the 10 another three times.

That was the supposedly lead-footed Bruschi who broke up a pass at the goal line intended for Chargers Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates.

That was Vrabel, still highly irritated at himself for giving up a pass completion on a previous play, blitzing Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and smacking him just enough with a leg whip that didn't get called, forcing Rivers into a bad throw that was intercepted.

That was Seau shooting a gap in the Chargers' line like he was 25 again and stuffing running back Michael Turner on a third-and-2 play in the third quarter for a 2-yard loss.

The Chargers had to settle for field goals in all four trips. It was the difference between being in Super Bowl XLII or not. And the Giants have noticed.

Eli Manning said one of the reasons the Giants pushed the unbeaten Patriots to the brink before losing, 38-35, in their regular-season finale is "when we got inside the red zone, we were able to score touchdowns." This time around, Manning said, the Giants have to remain aware of the Pats' linebackers.

"You have to be able to answer their blitzes and play a mistake-free game," Manning said. "They're not overly complicated. [But] if you do move the ball, they will come with the blitzes ... They try to get a sack, big plays. That's how they end drives."

All of them are dangerous. Bruschi has been known throughout the Patriots' dynastic run for making clutch plays, and his return to the NFL after a stroke has made him a sentimental story. Medical experts couldn't 100-percent guarantee him a device inserted in his heart couldn't be jarred loose by, say, a hit in a game. Now his wife has instituted what Bruschi calls "a three-second rule": No matter how many 300-pounders fall on him, he had to promise her in three seconds he'll be standing back up.

Vrabel has always been one of the players hoisted up as an epitome of the versatility Belichick asks of his team. He's moved from inside to outside linebacker during his career and moonlighting as a touchdown-catching tight end in the Patriots' goal-line offense.

Seau, in just two seasons with the Patriots, is a team captain who's here to cross off one of the last items on his personal kick-the-bucket list. He's never won a Super Bowl. Like Vrabel or Bruschi, Seau says he never knows what coach Bill Belichick might ask of him week to week.

Seau says one big difference between his heyday in San Diego, where he often freelanced to his heart's content as a younger star linebacker, is "there's a system here ... It's like subcontracting a plumber or a roofer. Although you may be a plumber, Belichick would say, 'Go fix the roof.' If you worked on cabinets, Belichick will say, 'We want you to go work on this tree in the yard.' You have to be versatile and you have to be able to adjust. In this scheme, you have to be able to do more than just plug the 'A' and 'B' gap. You really do."

It's a lot to ask of anyone, especially three guys in the latter part of their careers. But Bruschi has the perfect answer to all that talk they're supposedly older, slower, not what they used to be.

"What's our record this season?" Bruschi laughed. "What's our record?"

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

Patriots linebackers aged to perfection -- Newsday.com

 



 

WEDNESDAY JANUARY 30, 2008



You can just call him 'Tedy Dangerfield'


You'd think that after four Super Bowls, after 12 years in the National Football League, and after surviving a life-threatening stroke, Tedy Bruschi could expect to see his name spelled correctly at yet another Super Bowl "Media Day."

But that was not the case Tuesday at University of Phoenix Stadium, where a significant representation of the world's media gathered to pay homage to the biggest sporting event in North America.

There it was on the placard atop the riser where the veteran Patriots' linebacker would be holding court, in big white letters superimposed upon a field of blue: "B-R-U-S-H-C-I."

The late Rodney Dangerfield was fond of saying, "I don't get no respect!" Bruschi could have easily been thinking the same thing.

Fortunately, he was able to take the unintentional slight in stride - even when John Salley of Fox's "The Best Damn Sports Show" stopped by to apply the needle.

"Hey, Bruschi," the former NBA standout turned talk-show host shouted from behind a cluster of reporters. "How do you spell your name? I just wanted to know."

"Everybody notices that," Bruschi said, laughing. "As long as they spell it right on the back of my jersey."

"But how many championship rings do you have?" Salley asked.

"I have three," Bruschi said.

"And on your championship rings," Salley countered, "is it spelled properly?"

"It is spelled correctly," Bruschi said, playing along for comedy's sake. "Talk to the network guys over there. They might have had something to do with it."

Bruschi's little "namegate" controversy was just part of the hour-long exercise in fun and foolishness that takes place every year on the Tuesday before the big game. It's almost old hat for the Patriots, a team that has now been to five of these shindigs since 1996.

Media Day is somewhat of a misnomer. Every day during Super Bowl Week is a "media day" of sorts, with reporters converging upon the host city in swarms, chasing after every possible tidbit of news about the two participating teams, regardless of how many times the story may already have been written or broadcast.

But the capital-letters Media Day is the chance for the international media, or for television networks with no usual connection with the NFL, to corral players in one-on-one situations and ask them questions that no self-respecting sports journalist (and yes, that is a contradiction in terms) would ask.

Tuesday was a pleasant enough day in the sparkling new stadium, its retractable roof open to reveal a crystal blue and cloudless sky, with just a hint of winter chill reminding the thousands of people on the stadium floor that indeed, it's still football season.

Most of the attendees are straight-forward journalists looking to put their spin on a story, even if they don't fully understand it. Sometimes, it's amusing to walk past a TV reporter from Australia, Britain, Germany, France, Japan, China or what have you and hear them attempting to explain American football and the significance of this game to their home audiences.

And then, there are the usual examples of wretched excess - personified most conspicuously by the female "reporters" from Latin American television networks, whose plunging necklines rivaled the Grand Canyon for their depth, and whose jeans appeared to be tailored by Sherwin-Williams.

There was also one individual dressed in a "Swami" outfit to make bold predictions to anyone who would listen - and nearby, there stood Chris Berman of ESPN, who calls himself the "Swami" during his football predictions segments and was probably wondering if he could sue the other guy for infringement.

There was "Miss Nevada," a shapely young woman whose sash proclaiming her title constituted the majority of the fabric she was wearing. Nobody had the heart to tell her she was in Arizona.

There was also a young boy whose job it was to go from player to player and ask them how words were spelled. Bruschi said he feared that visit the most because, "last time, he asked someone on our team to spell 'Massachusetts,' and he couldn't."

Tom Brady, injured right foot hidden from the masses by the desk-like construction of his kiosk, was not beset upon by the Media Day sideshows early in his hour of availability, and he seemed to miss them.

"Hey, come on, I need a dumb question here," he called out.

A reporter near the front of the gathering called out, "What's your favorite band?"

"You know, that's not a dumb question at all. In fact, it's a good question," Brady said, noting that U2 was his favorite musical group.

But the quarterback got his wish a few minutes later. Another of those buxom bombshells from TV Azteca, the second-largest network in Mexico, came to Media Day dressed in a bridal "gown" that could have come straight out of the Victoria's Secret catalog.

Her assignment? To propose marriage to Our Tom.

Brady, who has more than enough personal entanglements to tide him over for a while, respectfully and politely declined. So, the bride-in-waiting turned her attentions to tight end Benjamin Watson, who also politely rebuffed her.

Randy Moss might have been more open to suggestion, given that it was the first Media Day of his 10-year career.

"They told me it was going to be hectic," the Pro Bowl-bound wide receiver said, "and I guess I was a little stunned, coming out here and seeing everybody - especially waiting here at my booth. It's an experience and I'm enjoying every second of it."

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

The Sun Chronicle Online - News

News and Notes

 


Worst spelling
If handing Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi a "Barry Manilow Award" for his ability to play a saxophone wasn't embarrassing enough for "Entertainment Tonight" anchor Kevin Frazier, Bruschi exacerbated it. The TV show had misspelled his name "B-R-U-S-H-C-I" on the trophy.

"Special," Bruschi said.

To make matters worse, a reporter pointed out that the NFL had made the same mistake on the name card that identified him at the podium.
Super Bowl Media Day a bit carried away -- ChicagoSports.com

 

His biggest game: Bruschi appreciates Super opportunity


GLENDALE, Ariz. - He was 31 years old at the time. He had recently won his third Super Bowl ring. Just days earlier, he'd played in his first Pro Bowl. Tedy Bruschi, the heart and soul of the New England Patriots' defense, had the world by the tail. And then he had a stroke. One of pro football's most fearless players knew fear.

Yesterday, Bruschi sat at a podium during Media Day for Super Bowl XLII. He looked around University of Phoenix Stadium, blinked a couple times, took a deep breath, and said Sunday's title game against the New York Giants would be the biggest of his life.

"There are so many layers, so many reasons why that's the case," he said.

True. The Pats are bidding for an unprecedented 19-0 season. He's back in the state where he starred for four years on the Desert Swarm defense at the University of Arizona. And he's healthy and playing football.

Don't minimize the latter. Bruschi certainly is not.

From the day in February of 2005 when he suffered the stroke until Oct. 30 of the same year, when Bruschi first ran back onto a football field, he navigated what his doctors called a "data-free zone." That's medical jargon for uncharted territory, un-navigated waters. Can a player come back from a stroke and play a vicious, violent game? Who knows? Nobody had ever tried.

"First of all, it's something that very few people that age ever go through, period, forget the football part," said New England coach Bill Belichick. "I know there were difficult times for him and times that he didn't ever think he would play football again."

It was the eyes, you see. Never mind the numbness and weakness in his left arm and leg. It was the blurred vision, especially when he tried to focus to his left.

"I didn't think seriously about playing football again until my vision returned, maybe two or three months later," Bruschi said. "You can rehab your arms and legs, you can push forward to overcome a challenge like that. But how do you rehab an eye? I couldn't see my hand here [holding his left hand about a foot away, just above eye level]. If I couldn't see to my left, playing linebacker, I'd get killed out there."

Early in the process, Bruschi went to a specialist who "put my head into a machine. It was like a globe cut in half. Every time I saw a white light flash I clicked a button. I thought, 'Hey, this is easy. I'm doing this.' I got done, looked at my wife, and she was shaking her head. I'd never seen one dot to the left side. I was scared."

Somehow, eventually, his vision returned to normal and Bruschi could not imagine not returning to the game.

It happened on Oct. 30, 2005, at Gillette Stadium, against the visiting Buffalo Bills. To say it was emotional, for Bruschi and for everyone watching, would not do the word justice.

"It was every emotion you could possibly have," he said. "Excitement, anticipation, joy, and, sure, fear. I'd talk to the docs and medical people and I'd say, 'Am I going to be OK? Can anything happen?' And they'd say, 'It shouldn't. We don't think so. Probably not.' It was always sort of open-ended because no one had ever done it before. There was a device in my heart. What if I got hit and it got dislodged? Who knew?

"Everything was a first. The first time I got hit by a fullback. The first time I got my head banged around. My first tackle. The first time a couple 300-pound linemen were rolling around on top of me. I had to relive and relearn every football experience."

That day, against the Bills, he made 10 tackles, four of them solo hits, and was named the AFC defensive player of the week.

"I'll always remember being on the field and starting next to Tedy that day," said fellow linebacker Mike Vrabel. "I'll remember the reaction from the fans and the reaction from the players. I'll always remember it. Every day I come to work with Tedy, he inspires me."

Safety Rodney Harrison puts it another way. He takes off his Patriots ball cap, points at the team logo, and says, "That emblem, right there, that's Bruschi. He's what this team is all about."

That's nothing new. Bruschi is in his 12th season and is making his fifth career Super Bowl appearance.

But he had to start over. And it has been more of the same ever since. He had 124 tackles, plus 25 more in three playoff games, in 2006. Heck, 17 came in one game against the Jets. This season, he led the Pats in tackles (99) and solo tackles (69). He surpassed the 30 mark in career sacks when he had two in a game against Cleveland. Ten days ago, in the second quarter of a close AFC championship game against San Diego, he stretched full out in mid-air at the goal line to tip away a pass and prevent a touchdown. He has 10 unassisted tackles in two playoff games.

So the Pats are back again at the Super Bowl. Tedy Bruschi is back again.

"To help this team get back to this point is sort of a victory for me in itself," he said. "I know this is a victory, of sorts, for all stroke survivors. I realize the whole grasp of things I've been able to accomplish. And I know what's on the line for this team. To achieve 19-0, well, I don't know if I have the words. Maybe I'll have an answer after the game if we're that fortunate. But, absolutely, it's the biggest game of my life."

But not the biggest fight.

He already won that.

toledoblade.com -- His biggest game: Bruschi appreciates Super opportunity

 


Press Conference Transcript:

Super Bowl XLI- Wednesday January 30, 2008
Quotes from the New England Patriots press conference

ILB Tedy Bruschi

(on Giant’s running backs and alternating between Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw)

“I mean Bradshaw, obviously, is a quicker back and obviously isn’t as powerful, as Jacobs. So, it sort of alters your style a little bit and you’ve got to recognize which backs in there because maybe there is a little bit more of a threat of a cutback with Bradshaw. And with Jacobs in there you really have to worry about your tackling techniques and making sure you can tackle him and bring him down. So there is a difference.”

(on the speculation of him retiring after the season)

“Like I said after the post game last year, I’m 34 years old. I’m in my 12th year. After every season I sort of reassess things. I look at people who put it off to this off season already like coaches Tony Dungy and Mike Holmgren. What they do is they sit back. They sort of reassess and make decisions with their families. That’s what I’ll do.”

(on what he will do after he retires) “I’ve thought about it. Whatever it is that I want to do, I still want to be in the game. I think that playing it for as long as I have now, I do have some expertise on it, so either coaching it or talking about it or do something in the front office, something about still being in the game.”

(on being an older player)

“You don’t really compensate. You still go out there just try to perform the best that you can. As you get older, experience absolutely comes into factor. Yes, I was maybe faster or quicker when I was younger. I’m not 24 anymore. I mean that was 10 years ago, but did I know as much then? So is it an advantage or disadvantage? You’ve got incredible ability but you don’t have experience. You have experience, but you don’t have quickness as you did maybe when you were younger. You go with the positive instead of the negative.”

(on the journey from waking up from the stroke)

“I realize how lucky I am. I don’t think anyone has ever said the words before, ‘I played professional football again after having a stroke.’ It’s just something you wouldn’t even comprehend. To accomplish that and to receive all those medals and stuff, and hear survival stories and to hear people say I have been an inspiration to them, it’s really humbling. It’s an honor and it’s something I take very seriously. There are a lot of titles you can say after my name, but the thing I am most proud of is the description.

(on if there were times he didn’t think he would make it back from the stroke)

“Absolutely. There were times when I was coming back and people told me I shouldn’t. People told me that ‘you’re crazy. What are you doing? Why is he attempting this come back? You’re a husband. You’ve got three children.’ They didn’t think it was possible but I knew it would take me making my first tackle. I knew it would take me getting up after having a couple 300 pounders on top of me. Those are points that I had to experience all over again. That’s what I have to do to so them. Not show people but help make people realize just because you had a stroke it doesn’t mean you couldn’t get back to where you were.”

(on why was it important to him to come back)

“Well, the first thing that helped me realize that I wanted to do this, was when my doctor said it was okay. And, I wouldn’t have tries to attempt this comeback if they said ‘Tedy we don’t think it’s possible.’ The most important l thing is my wife. I mean my wife told me ‘you’re my husband. You’re the father of my children. I don’t want you to put yourself in danger.’ And I think that is what every loving wife would do, so that’s why we sought out constant countless medical opinions. And I told her if there was one guy, one doctor that told me I don’t think you should do this ‘Tedy you’re putting your family at risk,’ I would have done it. But I got unanimous clearance, and I don’t think people realize that. What they say was someone who had a stroke was trying to play professional football and they couldn’t comprehend that. So it’s my job to help them see that.”

(on if he was worried that his comeback attempt would put others in danger)

“Not at all. I think every situation is different. And could something have happened to me that would have prevented me from coming back? Yep, if my eyesight hadn’t have comeback, I would have be able to comeback. But, I am

lucky that happened. There are different levels of recovery and with those you have to make adjustments in your life. I was one of the lucky ones.”

(on how much a perfect season means to him)

“This entire year there are so many different levels of accomplishment for me. From what we could possibly achieve, to coming back after Detroit, to being here in Arizona, the list goes on and on. Most definitely this is the most special Super Bowl for me. I have been filled with emotion from all I have been through to where we are as a team, to right now and how I have contributed. It’s the most special.”

(on what a perfect season would mean)

“That’s a question I will answer after the game because those are big ifs, because although we are 18-0, we still have the biggest one in front of us.”

(on how long it took for things to come back after the stroke)

“It was all a gradual process, from learning to write my name again, to walk properly, to wait for my left hip to activate, to getting back my eyesight. I think my eye sight might have been the last thing to come back. It took two or three months to return. Past all of that what took the longest was my mental and emotional state. I was a 31-year-old professional football player and I just got back from the Pro Bowl and two days later I had a stroke. That was a lot of highs and lows for me. It was the ultimate high to the ultimate low and emotionally and mentally that was the toughest for me to recover from.”

(on if he was scared he wouldn’t be able to come back)

“Yeah, you’ve always got to acknowledge that possibility just like on the football field you don’t think of what is guaranteed you have to perform correctly to get the victory. Victories aren’t always guaranteed, just like my recovery wasn’t.”

 
January 31, 2008
Remember Bruschi's name
By TERRY JONES



PHOENIX -- As time fades, so do the number of names which live on in our memories from the great dynasties in sports.

When it comes to the NFL, there were the Green Bay Packers of the '60s. Bart Starr. Paul Hornung. Ray Nitschke. Forrest Gregg. Jerry Kramer ...

There were the Pittsburgh Steelers of the '70s. Terry Bradshaw. Franco Harris. Lynn Swann. Mean Joe Greene ...

There were the San Francisco 49ers of the '80s. Joe Montana. Jerry Rice. Roger Craig. Dwight Clark ...

And there were the Dallas Cowboys of the '90s. Troy Aikman. Emmitt Smith. Michael Irvin ...

At this Super Bowl, the coronation of another all-time team is expected with a fourth Super Bowl title, topped by an undefeated season.

The New England Patriots. Tom Brady. Tedy Bruschi ...

In the media day zoo here Tuesday, I managed to get in the question to Bruschi about going into a Super Bowl knowing he could come out as arguably the first player after quarterback Brady to be remembered for years and years when other names fade.

"I'd see that, first of all, as a tremendous honour. I'd have tremendous pride in that," he said.

ONE-TEAM PLAYER

"I have tremendous pride having been able to be viewed as having a big part of it, but also in having been a New England Patriot for my entire career. I was determined, at the start of my career, no matter what success we had, to play for just one team. I made every effort to stay on this team for my entire career."

You would think with the name he has made in the game, and the fact he is coming back from a stroke to make it to another Super Bowl, they would spell his name right on the podium at which he spoke at that session.

"I have a tough name to spell," said the linebacker, who should have changed it to read like it's pronounced -- Teddy Brewski. "It could also be an ASU prank," he said, laughing.

Bruschi played for Arizona, the rival of Arizona State which is located in Tempe, Ariz. Contemplating practising at the Arizona State facility when the Patriots arrived here Sunday, he said "I may have to shower twice."

Bruschi says the idea of becoming arguably the ultimate of all dynasties Sunday is hard to ignore.

"I think it's the biggest game of my life -- of all of our lives," he said.

And, maybe more than any other Patriot, this game could be considered more special for Bruschi.

"Absolutely," he said. "There are so many layers of this game being special for me in terms of what I went through. It started with my stroke in 2005. It's what we've done this season, what we can complete if we go out and win this game and it being in Arizona."

Overcoming the stroke transcends football.

"I don't think it's ever been done before. I really wanted to make myself a championship linebacker again. Through the playoffs the last three years and finally getting back here now, I think I can finally say I'm all the way back.

"I hold every Super Bowl with a special place in my heart," he continued. "But to help this team to get back to this point is sort of a victory for me in itself. I've been working with the American Stroke Association a lot and I know this is a victory for all stroke survivors. I realize the whole grasp of things I've been able to accomplish. People have told me about being an inspiration to them. I respect that and I am humbled by it. It's something I'm proud to call myself -- a stroke survivor."

He's an inspiration to his teammates, too.

When the Patriots' names are remembered, maybe the one behind Brady and Bruschi will be Mike Vrabel.

"Every day I come to work with Tedy, I'm inspired," Vrabel said.

"What he has meant to this franchise over 12 years ...

"It's his demeanour and the way he carries himself. Everybody says he represents the Patriots. When you point to the guy on our helmet, that's Tedy."

http://winnipegsun.com/Sports/Football/2008/01/31/4803269-sun.html

News and Notes:

Tedy Bruschi on practicing at Arizona State University:

"After we practiced, I walked down the home side because they let us use their weight room. I was doing some lifts and there was this 30-foot painting of Sparky there. It was a little strange being my arch rival (to Bruschi's Univeristy of Arizona), but I just have fond memories of that stadium and walking by past players and saying I sacked him, I tackled him, I forced a fumble on that guy and so on."

OrlandoSentinel.com
SUPER BOWL XL11 GIANTS VS. PATRIOTS
Tedy Bruschi just glad he's still playing
After suffering a stroke in 2005, Tedy Bruschi never figured he'd be playing again.


David Whitley

Sentinel Staff Writer

January 31, 2008

GLENDALE, Ariz.


A lot has happened since the last time Tedy Bruschi walked onto a Super Bowl field.

He turned 32, then 33, then 34. He led New England in tackles. He lost sight in one eye and was crippled.

No wonder he's glad to be back.

"It sounds ludicrous to play football after a stroke," Bruschi said. "The sentence is just not used a lot."

It's being used a lot this week. There have been a lot of comeback stories in Super Bowl history. Few have involved a linebacker who lost the ability to write his name, much less tackle large human beings.

Things like that happen when you have a stroke. Somebody in America has suffered one since you began reading this story.

It happens to about 780,000 people a year, according to the American Heart Association. In 2005, only one of the victims had just won a Super Bowl.

New England beat Philadelphia 24-21 in Jacksonville. Bruschi then flew to Honolulu for his first Pro Bowl appearance.

Three days later, the lights went out.

"Before I could sit back and enjoy that win, I was fighting for my life," Bruschi said.

He awoke with a ferocious headache. His left side was numb and the room was spinning. He crawled out of bed and his wife dialed 911.

Bruschi didn't know it at the time, but a blood clot had traveled from his leg through a small hole in his heart and lodged in the back of his head. The blood supply to part of his brain had been cut off.

It couldn't be a stroke. People like Bruschi aren't supposed to have strokes. He was young, his body was fit enough to earn him millions of dollars.

There are early signs of impending strokes. Intercepting Donovan McNabb in a Super Bowl is not one of them.

"Don't worry, Tedy. We'll get you back out there," a cardiologist told him.

The guy must have been a Patriots season-ticket holder.

"I wanted to strangle him," Bruschi said. "I wasn't thinking about that at all. I just wanted to function well as a family man again."

A month later, a device was inserted to seal the hole in his heart. The thought of playing again was so remote that Bruschi accepted a front-office job with the Patriots.

His real job was rehabilitation. The motor skills that once let him run down quarterbacks weren't good enough to let him pick up his son.

"It was a gradual process, from learning to write my name again to walking properly," Bruschi said. "I think my eyesight might have been the last thing to come back."

Not long after that, his desire to play returned. Players come back from torn ligaments and broken bones all the time. The mere thought of returning from a stroke seemed ridiculous.

About one-fifth of stroke victims never even come back to life. Bruschi's doctors assured him he wasn't risking more damage by playing. That didn't exactly make his wife feel better.

To this day Bruschi observes a three-second rule. No matter how tired he is or how many players are top of him, he gets up within three seconds after the play. That lets Heidi Bruschi know that little patch in her husband's heart hasn't come loose.

Before that became an issue, Bruschi had to convince Bill Belichick he could still play. He initially planned to sit out the entire 2005 season. Halfway through, his body started feeling like it did that night in Jacksonville.

Bruschi was in the lineup by Game No. 8. Two weeks later he made 10 tackles against Buffalo.

"When you realize what could have happened, getting back was an incredible journey," he said. "Especially getting back to playing a high level of football."

Bruschi knows he was lucky. If that clot had lodged a few centimeters differently, he could have been paralyzed or worse. Though strokes can strike anyone, people with high blood pressure and other ailments are most at risk.

Bruschi started working with the American Stroke Association and started Tedy's Team, which hopes to make people more cognizant of stroke warning signs.

Just getting on the field has raised a lot of awareness. What Lance Armstrong is to people battling cancer, Bruschi is to people recovering from strokes. He wrote a book, "Never Give Up: My Stroke, My Recovery and My Return to the NFL."

If you didn't know better, you'd swear he never left. Bruschi led the Patriots in tackles this season.

"He has great energy and enthusiasm for the game," Belichick said. "Any player and coach on the team feel the positive vibe he gives off."

Bruschi has become New England's emblem, almost literally. The Minuteman logo on the team's helmets was once said to be patterned after Elvis.

Now people say it's a profile of another icon who defied death. Only this one really is alive.

"What we've done is sport, not real life," safety Rodney Harrison said. "What Tedy has accomplished is pretty much a miracle."

So you'll excuse him if he lingers a few extra minutes after Sunday's game. Bruschi will become a free agent and has hinted he'll retire.

Win or lose, he will appreciate this Super Bowl more than any of the others. Of course, he wouldn't be Tedy Bruschi if he wasn't showing up to win.

"It would mean a lot," he said. "Then again, every day means a lot to me."


David Whitley can be reached at dwhitley@orlandosentinel.com.

Copyright © 2008, Orlando Sentinel

Tedy Bruschi just glad he's still playing -- OrlandoSentinel.com

Bruschi has already won biggest battle of his life
MARK WOODS February 02 2008

Tedy Bruschi will walk on to the field tomorrow night in the University of Phoenix Stadium with his three young sons at his side, savouring every second of the build-up to Super Bowl XLII: the crowd, the hubris, the nervous energy in the Arizona air and the sensation of history tapping the New England Patriots on the shoulder.

Not that different to three years ago, in Jacksonville, when the linebacker went through his habitual pre-game rituals before producing yet another crushing performance to help take the Pats to their third NFL championship in this decade. Except he didn't know then that 10 days later, he would wake up with no feeling in the left side of his body after suffering a stroke during the night. His hopes and dreams were not of further opportunities to take his place in American football's grandest stage. They were of survival first, then a return to normality, as a husband, father and functioning human being.

You don't win 18 games in succession without learning how to overcome the odd moment of adversity and if the Patriots seem invincible, Bruschi is their living reminder of the uncertainties of life. No-one has guaranteed New England this Super Bowl. Certainly not the New York Giants, who are taking hope from running their lauded foes to within three points just five weeks ago.
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Bruschi has been here, done it, and has the gaudy rings to prove it. Yet, he knows how fortunate he is to be beckoned once more. "No-one's ever done this before. No-one's ever played professional football after having a stroke. It's just something you wouldn't even comprehend. To accomplish that and to receive all the medals and stuff, and hear survival stories, and to hear people say I have been an inspiration to them, it's really humbling."

There were times, particularly when he also had to undergo surgery to repair a hole in his heart, when the linebacker was told not even to attempt a return. "You're crazy. What are you doing?" they cried. "You're a husband. You've got three children."

Even he had his doubts until he had charged in for his first tackle. "I knew it would take me getting up after having a couple 300 pounders on top of me. Those are points that I had to experience all over again. That's what I have to do to show them. Not show people but help make people realise just because you had a stroke it doesn't mean you couldn't get back to where you were."

It has served to inspire. "If I were to open the dictionary to football player' and see Tedy Bruschi's picture there, that would be fitting," confirms New England head coach Bill Belichick. "He's all about football. He knows how to play." Whether it is trying to stop New York's formidable rushing attack, hunting down Giants quarterback Eli Manning, or even on special teams, there will be nothing left on the line.

Destiny beckons for the Patriots. Throughout their team, there is the experience of past accomplishment. Critically, there is also the hunger of those or whom the spectacle of Super Bowl is a step into the unknown, which is why wide receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker have played such a critical role in elevating their team to unprecedented heights this season.

There are, of course, similarities with New England's three championship squads of recent vintage. "All the teams," Bruschi observes, "had a good feeling in our locker room. The time we enjoy spending around each other. A great bunch of team-mates. But the difference between this team and those other championship teams is that this one hasn't won a Super Bowl yet. We can't compare those teams to the others until we get this done."

As Belichick's men have underlined, they are prepared to dig in and scrap. One win at a time has been the consistent mantra from on high and everyone has bought into the programme. "The game will be decided in the fourth quarter," Bruschi forecasts. "There is no doubt in my mind. The Giants are a great team and its going to take four quarters of great football to win this game."

And walk off a champion.

Bruschi Has Already Won Biggest Battle Of His Life (from The Herald )

 

Pats linebackers Seau, Bruschi and Vrabel provide experience

By Bill Williamson, The Denver Post
Thursday, January 31, 2008


Phoenix — The New England Patriots linebacker crew has a motto about its approach.

"Smart, fast and nasty."

Good, accurate and snappy. But one other adjective is needed to characterize the heart and soul of Bill Belichick's defense.

Old. Really old.

"Mind over flesh," Junior Seau, the elder statesman of the crusty group at 39, said when asked just how lousy he feels when he awakens every morning during his 18th season in the NFL.

It has been 181 games since he last played in the Super Bowl. Seau has counted. He was a 26-year-old superstar for the San Diego Chargers in 1995 when they were hammered by the San Francisco 49ers. Some linebacker crews don't total 181 games as a group. But these are the Patriots. Belichick loves the grizzled old vet. That's why he pulled Seau off of Pacific Ocean shores to come back. Belichick just knew Seau would fit his crew.

Seau slipped seamlessly into the mix with fellow graybeards Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel. Bruschi is 34, Vrabel 32. Bruschi is in his 12th season, while Vrabel is in his 11th. Both Bruschi and Vrabel have been with New England during its Super Bowl parade in the past decade. The Patriots are preparing for their fourth Super Bowl in seven years, Sunday against the New York Giants. Seau replaced venerable linebackers in the Belichick system such as Willie McGinest and Chad Brown.

New England added pass rusher Adalius Thomas to the crew last spring as a big-ticket free agent from Baltimore. Yet, Thomas is a pup by comparison at 30.

"I trust my linebackers and know they will always be part of the defense," Belichick said. "They are all reliable, veteran guys."

And they thrive in Belichick's system.

"Bill's defense is perfect for a veteran," Seau said. "He really trusts us to make plays and not make mistakes. It's a very good place to be."

When history tells the story of the dominant team of the 2000s, the first chapters will be about Belichick and his quarterback Tom Brady. However, the linebackers have to come up next.

While Seau has his place, it all starts with Bruschi and Vrabel, the constant in the middle of the vaunted, yet understated defense.

"Those are special," Brady said. "They've been here for everything."

Vrabel and Bruschi are similar players and people. Quiet and tough. No Patriots team would be super without either Vrabel or Bruschi, and both likely will join Seau in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. With likely fourth Super Bowl rings awaiting, Vrabel and Bruschi will carve out special places in NFL history.

In their typical single-minded way, neither will look that far ahead to potential enshrinement.

"If anyone on this team seriously answers this question, I'd be seriously surprised," Bruschi said. "And if anybody does, let me know. Then I'll have to talk to them."

The gritty, old New England linebackers are aligned.

"Every day I come to work with Tedy, I'm inspired," Vrabel said. "The same with Junior.Football is important to them. They put a lot into it."

Year after year.

Pats linebackers Seau, Bruschi and Vrabel provide experience : Stories : Ventura County Star

Patriots' Bruschi comes full circle since stroke
By Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tedy Bruschi has it all mapped out. The New England Patriots linebacker will hit the field early before Super Bowl XLII, well before most of his teammates come out for pregame warm-ups. And he'll have three little Bruschis with him.

"I'll bring them out on the field and run around with them for maybe 10 minutes," Bruschi says, "and that will probably be one of the most special moments of my life."

Now it's a ritual. Before playing in his last Super Bowl, No. 39 at Jacksonville, Bruschi romped on the field with his two oldest sons, Tedy Jr. and Rex, and it provided a touching, classic snapshot.

At the time, Bruschi had no idea how special it was. About 10 days later, Bruschi suffered a stroke — which threatened his career and changed his life.

"That's really the defining moment for me," Bruschi, 34, said Thursday morning. "That's the last image I have in my head from before the stroke."

It is why Sunday's game, New England's first Super Bowl appearance in three years, is so significant personally for Bruschi. It marks how he has come full circle since the stroke, making his comeback complete. While being treated for his stroke, doctors discovered that Bruschi had a small hole in his heart, which was repaired with the insertion of a small device that remains implanted in his most vital organ.

"After my doctor told me I had a stroke, there was really no doubt in my mind that I was finished as a professional football player," said Bruschi, wrapping up his 12th NFL season. "All I wanted was to get back to being a functional family man. A father again. There was a point in my life when I couldn't pick up my sons. I felt like I wasn't normal anymore. So that was my first goal."

Bruschi returned to football 10 months after the stroke, when doctors assured him there was no dangerous risk — a process that took months in itself. He exhibits the passion that marks his style but represents so much more than the football player that he was in his last Super Bowl.

He is now a hard-hitting symbol for stroke survivors.

"Incredible," says Scott Pioli, the Patriots vice president/personnel. "It's encouraging."

Bruschi (6-1, 247) will have a crucial role Sunday in trying to contain the Giants' fourth-ranked rushing attack, powered by the biggest running back in the NFL, Brandon Jacobs. At 6-4, 264 pounds, Jacobs outweighs every Patriots linebacker except 270-pound Adalius Thomas, which is reflected in his bruising style.

"Jacobs, he's such a physical presence, you really have to game-plan tackling him," Bruschi says. "Where do I hit him? Do I hit him high? Do I hit him low? Do I go for the ball? He's just that kind of threat, because he can run through arm tackles."

Interestingly, Bruschi says he was actually dreaming about another big running back — former Pittsburgh Steelers star Jerome Bettis— when he believes he suffered his stroke. Bruschi had returned home exhausted after playing in his first Pro Bowl and woke up from a dream in the middle of the night with sensations he had never experienced.

"I was dreaming about the AFC Championship Game," he recalled. "It was a tackle I made on Jerome Bettis, and right at that moment of impact … my arms went up in the air, my whole body locked up. I think that was the moment. I talked to my neurologist. He thinks that was the moment also when the stroke really hit me."

Bruschi awoke a few hours later with a headache and sat on his bed. But, as he detailed in his book, Never Give Up, he was unable to walk to his bathroom. He never suspected that he had suffered a stroke and went back to sleep. After waking up a few hours later, he says he heard one of his sons come into his room from his left with a good morning greeting but he never saw him until he flashed to his right. In addition to lacking vision, the entire left side of his body was numb.

"I told my wife, 'Call 911,' " he recalled Thursday.

"One of the main things that bothers me … is that I didn't know I was having a stroke. I didn't know the warning signs. I didn't realize I had a stroke until they told me."

Bruschi was never pressured to return to football. In his book Bruschi said the toughest person he had to convince that he could return was his wife, Heidi.

Pioli remembers how Bruschi's career was the last thing he considered.

"Everyone was unsettled," Pioli remembers. "You're taught in this position not to get emotionally attached or so close to players. But it's impossible not to be that way. It bothered me on a personal level. I know Heidi and the kids."

Defensive end Richard Seymour, one of Bruschi's neighbors, had similar sentiments.

"As family men … I see his kids, they're out playing with my kids in the backyard," Seymour said. "It was bigger than football to me. The most important thing is your health. If he was going to be healthier staying away from the game, I was all for it. Obviously, it wasn't and isn't a problem."

Bruschi, also fired up about returning to the state where he played in college at Arizona, is long past the point of worrying about his health. He remembers overcoming several football firsts — the first collision with a fullback in practice, the first tackle in a game, the first time was smothered at the bottom of a pile of 300-pounders.

He isn't concerned that the device in his heart, which is the size of a quarter, poses any serious risk in such a physical sport.

That was one of the most crucial issues he discussed with doctors before returning in October 2005.

"They told me I was in a data-free zone, which means no one had ever done that before, after a procedure like this," Bruschi said. "So when you talk to people in the medical profession, they use words like, 'Well, it shouldn't.' Or, 'The chances are slim …' So they always leave that little bit of a chance. That was something I had to overcome."

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/patriots/2008-01-31-bruschi-comeback_N.htm?csp=34

Bruschi helps others get back in the flow
Patriots linebacker has been an inspiration to fellow stroke victims through his book, charity work and, most of all, his mere presence on the field.
By David Wharton
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer


February 2, 2008

PHOENIX -- The cards and messages that find their way to Tedy Bruschi aren't the usual fan mail.

"Stories of adversity," he calls them.

After he had a stroke three years ago -- a football player cut down in his prime -- Bruschi began hearing from people who had suffered the same malady at a young age.

Early on, while he was fighting through rehabilitation, the letters encouraged him.

"It gave me a little bit of hope," he said this week. "I could come back."

Now that he has fully recovered, making it all the way back to the NFL, Bruschi is returning the favor.

When he and his New England Patriots teammates take the field against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII on Sunday, the linebacker will serve as a nationally televised role model for stroke survivors with whom he has spoken and corresponded.

People like Jeff Rizner, a manufacturing executive in Chicago who remains sluggish on his right side and has learned to write left-handed. Or Robin Lyons, a Massachusetts mom caring for two boys who face years of rehabilitation.

People like Katie Jerdee, a Boston college student who wanted to play soccer again.

"It was frustrating because of your coordination, some things you can't do," Jerdee said. "Then you see him."

About a year ago, Jerdee went running with her Northeastern University team and suddenly veered off course.

"I almost passed out," she recalled. "I had no idea what was going on."

A stroke left the 21-year-old student struggling to walk and write. In the months that followed, she came across Bruschi's book, "Never Give Up," and discovered that they attended the same rehab center.

"We exchanged war stories," she recalled. "It was just really interesting . . . we had a lot of the same symptoms and a lot of the same aftereffects.

"Most young people don't go through this."

Of the estimated 780,000 Americans who suffer strokes each year, only 1.5% are younger than 34, according to a recent study. But experts insist that people of all ages are at risk.

Bruschi was 31, just home from the 2005 Pro Bowl, when he woke up with numbness and no peripheral vision on his left side. It did not occur to him that he was having a stroke.

"You think of stroke," he said, "you think of your grandmother."

Time is of the essence, each hour causing more damage. Bruschi got to a hospital where doctors discovered and repaired a small hole in his heart. Gradually, he began to think about football.

"I don't think anyone has ever said the words before -- 'I played professional football again after having a stroke,' " he said. "There were times when I was coming back and people told me I shouldn't. People told me that 'you're crazy . . . you're a husband. You've got three children.' "

Such doubts struck a chord with Jerdee as she fought to recapture her old life.

"It was a hard time," she said. "With my stroke, I had to relearn to use my right side."

Like Bruschi, she was motivated by the goal of returning to athletics. Her mother resisted the idea, but Jerdee got encouragement talking to Bruschi at a meeting for stroke survivors.

"There were a lot of things we could talk about that no one else could understand," she said. "It's different than talking to my doctor or talking to my parents."

Robin Lyons recalls the day her son Paul came home from school and excitedly told her: "Did you know Tedy Bruschi had a stroke?"

By that time, the eight-year-old had already survived two strokes. His three-year-old brother, Michael, had survived three.

Only about 3,000 American children and teenagers have strokes each year, according to one estimate. The Lyons, who live in Walpole, Mass., were facing an even rarer situation.

Paul and Michael, who have two healthy brothers, suffer from moyamoya, a cerebrovascular disorder that affects mostly children.

Young stroke victims tend to recover more quickly and fully, said Dr. David S. Liebeskind, an associate neurology director at the UCLA Stroke Center. Still, the Lyons boys required multiple brain surgeries followed by therapy that will stretch well into the future.

In the middle of all this, Paul heard about Bruschi. He recognized the name because the Lyons are big Patriots fans.

"Wow, he had a stroke and I had a stroke," Paul told his mother. "Wouldn't it be cool if he had moyamoya too?"

Robin Lyons explained to her little boy that, no, it would not be cool if Bruschi had the disorder. But she knew what he meant. He felt a little less alone with his medical challenges.

"It gave me hope too," Robin Lyons said. "If [Bruschi] can get out there on that field and play hard-core football, the outlook is good for my sons."

Not too much later, she took her boys to see Bruschi. "I think he was more shocked than anything . . . my sons were so young," she said.

Bruschi smiles when he talks about the Lyons and others he has met.

"To hear people say that I have been an inspiration to them, it's humbling," he said. "It's an honor and it's something I take very seriously."

Bruschi's recovery has been characterized as nothing short of miraculous, but Liebeskind offers a different view.

"He's not that uncommon," the UCLA doctor said. "In general, younger stroke victims have a greater chance of recovery."

The key for survivors of any age is diligence. Bruschi approached rehab the same way he had approached his football career -- with determination and faith.

His coordination and vision gradually returned, and doctors assured him the implant they used to repair his heart could not be shaken loose. Midway through the 2005 season, he rejoined the Patriots.

"It was a progression," he said. "I had to make my first tackle. Once I made my first tackle, I would consciously get up and say, 'OK, there's a tackle.' "

After each play ended, he thought of his wife, Heidi, who told him that "if I came back, there is a three-second rule. I can't be on the ground for more than three seconds."

Bruschi became a highly visible inspiration to stroke survivors but did not stop there. He wrote his book about recovery and began working with the American Stroke Assn., making appearances and raising money. He sponsored "Tedy's Team," a group of stroke survivors who run the Boston Marathon each spring.

That was how Jeff Rizner met him. Rizner had a stroke at 37 and took up running as a means of rehabilitation. Though the right side of his body has not fully recovered, the Chicago-area resident has finished 10 marathons and has run with Tedy's Team.

"When [Bruschi] talks, he's very inspirational," Rizner said. "And watching him on TV, seeing him hit people, I'm like, 'Go for it.' "

Even more, the 44-year-old Rizner appreciates that Bruschi draws attention to their shared affliction.

"You read a lot about heart attacks and about cancer," he said. "But if you look around, you see very little about strokes."

Bruschi has helped spread the word about stroke warning signs and the need for immediate medical attention. When he takes the field Sunday, playing in front of millions of television viewers, Liebeskind figures it will be like a running, hitting, tackling public service announcement.

"That kind of image is long overdue," he said.

Bruschi's comeback has already enlightened one person about stroke. Back in Boston, when Jerdee felt ready to play soccer again, she knew just how to assuage her worried mother.

She gave her a copy of Bruschi's book.

Bruschi helps others get back in the flow - Los Angeles Times

 

 

Bruschi Is Living Proof

By ROY CUMMINGS, The Tampa Tribune

Published: February 2, 2008

Updated: 02/01/2008 11:44 pm


PHOENIX - If you step away from it for a minute and look at it through a different lens, you begin to see how trivial it really is.

Beat the Giants? Yeah, sure, Tedy Bruschi can help the Patriots beat the Giants. Why not? He beat death, didn't he?

"I don't think anyone has ever said, 'I played professional football again after having a stroke,'" Bruschi said. "It's something you would never even comprehend."

It's something most people wouldn't even attempt. Bruschi, obviously, is different. Much different.

He was 31 when he had the stroke, when an endless headache morphed into a numbness up and down the left side of his body that soon took his eyesight as well.

After months of rehabilitation, he eventually was given clearance to give football another try, first by his doctors, then by his wife, who probably saved his life by calling 911 the day the numbness and blindness set in.

There also was the calling, this little voice inside Bruschi's head that grew louder as he worked through his rehab, a voice that kept telling him he could save other stroke victims if he could get back on that field.

So here he is, nearly three years removed from that day in February 2005 when he came home from the Pro Bowl feeling out of sorts, back on the Super Bowl stage, living proof that even stroke victims can regain normalcy.

"Just by being here and doing what I do I've proved that you can come back and do whatever you want to do, because who would ever think someone could come back and play professional football after having a stroke," Bruschi said.

"To go back out there and wrestle with 300-pound men and put a helmet on and bang around and still be OK, it says that it's OK, you can experience a full recovery from this."

Full, indeed. It's not like Bruschi is just hanging on. He remains one of the Patriots' two starting inside linebackers. And you have to check his medical records to find proof of the stroke, because it doesn't show up on the field.

Sure, he's lost some speed. At 34, who hasn't? Like Derrick Brooks, Bruschi makes up for what he has lost athletically by leaning on uncanny instincts and 12 years of experience.

And from the looks of things, he is leaning on those traits well. He led the Patriots in overall tackles this year with 99 and in solo tackles with 69. Talk about an inspiration.

"Every day I come to work I'm inspired by Tedy," fellow Pats linebacker Mike Vrabel said. "I'll always remember being on the field and starting next to Tedy that game after he came back from the stroke. It was special."

Bruschi is special. He is easily one of the 10 best linebackers in the game today, a player who figures to get some consideration for the Hall of Fame once he calls it quits.

"I don't vote, but if I did I would certainly vote for him," Vrabel said. "What he's meant to this team over the course of 12 years - he always seems to be front and center of what we're doing.

"His play, his demeanor, the way he carries himself; everybody says he represents what the Patriots are all about. I agree with that and with what teammate Rodney Harrison said - he's the guy on our helmet. That's Tedy."

Everyone wonders how much longer Bruschi will wear that helmet. He certainly doesn't show any signs of slowing down, but with three Super Bowl rings to his credit already you wonder if he has much left to accomplish.

Besides, a win in Super Bowl XLII could provide a perfect ending for the one-time member of the University of Arizona's "Desert Swarm" defense.

"There's no question this is the most special Super Bowl for me," Bruschi said, "There are so many layers of this game being special for me in terms or what I've been through.

"It started with what I went through with my stroke and what we've done this season, what we can complete if we win the game and with being in Arizona with all my friends and family. The list just goes on."

So does life. Beat that.

Reporter Roy Cummings can be reached at (813) 259-7979 or rcummings@tampatrib.com.

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/feb/02/sp-bruschi-is-living-proof

 

 

It’s all about heart for Tedy Bruschi

09:58 AM EST on Saturday, February 2, 2008

BY SHALISE MANZA YOUNG

Journal Sports Writer




SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Courageous.

Passionate.

A leader.

A football player.

Ask members of the New England Patriots what words come to mind when they think of Tedy Bruschi, and those are some of the descriptions you hear over and over again.

The 34-year-old linebacker, who came to New England from Arizona in 1996 with the NCAA’s career sack record, a mullet and a stretch of personal hurdles already cleared, has been the heart and soul of the Patriots defense for a decade.

Ironically, it was his heart that nearly took him out of the game and away from his family, far too soon.

Toughness.

Bruschi was at his professional peak three years ago: the Patriots had won their third Super Bowl championship in four years, and on the strength of his 128-tackle, 3½-sack, three-interception season, he went to his first Pro Bowl.

He and his wife, Heidi, had three young sons that the once-undersized defensive lineman doted on.

But one night, a few days after returning from Hawaii for the Pro Bowl, Bruschi lay awake, watching a re-air of the Pats’ AFC Championship win over Pittsburgh a month earlier. According to the book he published last year, Never Give Up, Bruschi dozed off thinking about a collision he’d had in that game with Steelers’ running back Jerome Bettis. As he slept, he clenched his fists and felt his neck tighten. When he awoke, he had a strange sensation in his left arm and leg.

He tried to fight through the numbness, believing that he had slept on his side wrong, ignoring the beginnings of a headache. In the morning, he realized he was having vision problems. Soon after, Heidi called 911 and the toughest challenge of Bruschi’s life began.

It was a stroke. A 31-year-old man in top physical condition had suffered a stroke.

“It was unsettled; I think everyone was unsettled,” Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli said this week of the days following Bruschi’s stroke. “You’re taught early in this business not to get emotionally attached or not to get too close to players, but there’s certain people — and for whatever reason, it seem like a lot of the guys we have on this team — it’s impossible not to be that way. It bothered me on a personal level. … I know Heidi and I know the kids, and it was very unsettling.”

Bruschi started the long road back to normalcy, which initially didn’t include football. It included being able to play with his boys and a nebulous front-office job with New England.

But as his vision came back and doctors saw his progress, it became OK to think about getting back on the field.

Crazy.

“There were times when I was coming back and people told me I shouldn’t. People told me, ‘You’re crazy. What are you doing? You’re a husband, you’ve got three children,’ ” Bruschi said.

Friends and family weren’t the only ones who wondered why Bruschi wanted to put the pads back on.

“You take the work ‘stroke’ and you put it with ‘football player,’ then you have to think that he’s on his second [full] season after recovering from that — that’s the crazy aspect,” said teammate Heath Evans. “But it also goes along with just the ‘mentally tough.’ ”

Pioli didn’t think it was crazy. He knew Bruschi would only be returning if it was the right thing for him, if he had Heidi’s support.

“I didn’t think he was crazy. But that’s part of the beauty of Tedy. He’s a guy that’s overcome obstacles — real obstacles — his entire life. They haven’t been fabricated stories. He’s overcome real obstacles.”

Aggressive.

Strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik condensed the normal offseason program into an intensive six-week program for Bruschi and he continued regular checkups with his doctors. Everything was full speed ahead.

Bruschi’s first game back was Oct. 30 against Buffalo, and he had 10 tackles in the victory. It was almost as if he had never been away from the game.

But he knew how lucky he was.

“I don’t think anyone has ever said the words, ‘I played professional football again after having a stroke.’ It’s just something you wouldn’t even comprehend,” he said.

Always a fiery player, his return inspired his teammates and stroke victims across the country. The stories and letters came pouring in, and still do, three years later.

Enthusiasm.

Bruschi was in his rightful place at middle linebacker again this season, collecting 99 tackles and two sacks in the regular season and adding 15 more tackles in the postseason.

After each of the Patriots’ first 18 victories, he has played Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” in the postgame locker room, celebrating the improbable string of wins New England has tied together thus far this year.

He remains one of the hardest workers on the team, both in the meeting rooms and on the practice field.

“He doesn’t take plays off during practice, he gets into the details, he’s good in the meetings,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “He leads by example. Not everybody pays full attention in the meetings or doesn’t go out and practice hard every day and that’s not Bruschi. He goes hard every day. Just such a great example for the young players.”

“Everything he went through, to be back here and at the highest levels of football, it’s amazing,” second-year linebacker Pierre Woods said. “I admire him. I call him ‘Big brother Bru.’ ”

Football player.

“Tedy’s meant so much to this organization, to this team, and really to the entire community,” Belichick said.

“But if I were open up the dictionary to ‘football player’ and see Tedy Bruschi’s picture there, that would be fitting. He’s all about football. He knows how to play. He’s very instinctive. He just always seems to do the right thing.”

There’s one more word, offered by assistant coach and former teammate Don Davis:

Miracle.

smanza@projo.com

http://www.projo.com/patriots/content/sp_fbn_bruschi02_02-02-08_1R8S1AM_v9.347f192.html


Bruschi just happy to play

By Dave Hyde in Phoenix, USA
February 03, 2008


EVEN if the unthinkable happens and the New England Patriots don't make their seemingly inevitable march into the record books, Tedy Bruschi will still be a winner.

The eyes of 80,000 fans in the stadium in Phoenix and millions of TV viewers around the world will be focused on the glamour boys - New England quarterback Tom Brady, New York opponent Eli Manning and wild child Patriots receiver Randy Moss.

But all their achievements in the game mean nothing compared to Bruschi, the faceless linebacker in the No.54 Patriots jersey.

The 185cm, 112kg bruiser makes his living in one of the most violent positions in a brutal game so well he has three Super Bowl rings and five Pro Bowl appearances.

Yet three years ago, he couldn't walk and was almost blind. Bruschi had to relearn how to write.

He couldn't see out of his left eye, then couldn't co-ordinate his two eyes.

"A stroke survivor in the Super Bowl," Bruschi said last week.

"That means more to me than anything else."

Three years ago, two days after returning from the Pro Bowl, Bruschi woke up in the middle of the night in pain.

His left leg gave out as he got out of bed. His body went numb.

Within a few hours, he was lying in a hospital bed and a doctor was delivering the news that couldn't be true: "Tedy, you've had a stroke."

Thirty-one-year-olds don't have strokes, do they?

Not when they're football players.

Certainly not when they take care of themselves the way Bruschi did. At least that's what he thought.

"I didn't think I'd ever be a normal person again," he said.

"Playing football wasn't even in the realm of possibility to me."

But, as he started the road to rehabilitation, no therapist said his limbs wouldn't work well again.

No doctor said he shouldn't play again. After 12 weeks of therapy he began to believe, too. Day by day, step by step, he became who he was to the point that 10 months after the stroke he was on the field again.

"What I found was I wasn't alone in my comeback," he said.

Stroke victims reached out to him. First by the dozens. Then hundreds. Then thousands.

Two young brothers in Boston who are stroke victims put a Bruschi poster on their bedroom wall.

A college swimmer raised money for a teammate who was a stroke victim.

A high school hockey player. A school principal. A stockbroker. You see this across all of sports, tragedy turning into inspiration.

"At first I thought, 'why me'," Bruschi said. "Now I think it happened to me for a reason."

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Bruschi just happy to play - Other Sports - Fox Sports

 

 

News, Notes and Quotes:

Tedy Bruschi, linebacker: The 34-year-old inside linebacker has been described as the heart and soul of the Patriots by virtually all of his teammates. He will be playing in his fifth Super Bowl since being selected in the third round (No. 86 overall) of the 1996 draft. Only Denver's John Elway and five former Dallas Cowboys have played in that many. Bruschi made one Pro Bowl appearance, after the 2004 season. Four days after that game he suffered a stroke blamed on a congenital heart problem. He announced he would sit out the 2005 season but was declared medically fit to play in October. He was back on the field three days later and played in a game 10 days after that.

A pat on the back for the Fab Five :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Mike Mulligan

 

"Even ourselves, within this team, we don't consider ourselves invincible," Bruschi said. "The minute you consider yourself invincible, you are letting your guard down. If you think you can't be beat, that's the wrong thought to have."

 

Feeling super once again
Tedy Bruschi will play in his first post-stroke Super Bowl, and he could not be happier
By Bill Bradley - bbradley@sacbee.com
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, February 3, 2008


GLENDALE, Ariz. – When we last saw Tedy Bruschi at a Super Bowl, the images were memorable.

The day before Super Bowl XXXIX, the New England Patriots linebacker was on the field running after his kids, catching them for hugs and kisses. During the game, he chased the Philadelphia Eagles with abandon, delivering bone-jarring hits. After the game, he hoisted and kissed the Lombardi Trophy, celebrating his third Super Bowl title.

Three years later, he is not only happy to be playing in today's Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants, he is happy to be alive.

"There are so many layers of this game being special for me in terms of what I've went through," he said this week. "It started with what I went through with my stroke back in 2005, what we've done this season, what we can complete if we go out there and win the game, it being in my state of Arizona with all my friends and family that I know are here."

The former Roseville High School star suffered a mild stroke – according to doctors – 10 days after that Super Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. Nearly nine months later, he returned to the playing field. Three years later, both he and the Patriots are trying to win their fourth Super Bowl ring. In a few days, he could be contemplating retirement.

It makes being on a team that could go 19-0 secondary.

"He's an extraordinary young man," said Larry Cunha, his former coach at Roseville. "He has the talent, skill and desire to do what he wants. He should be an inspiration to people with disabilities."

The stroke

It happened on the night of Feb. 16, 2005. Bruschi said he was suffering from numbness on the left side of his body and blurred vision. At first he thought it was the aches and pains of football. He tried to sleep it off before his wife, Heidi, called 911.

Doctors discovered Bruschi had a congenital heart defect they believe caused the stroke. A small hole in his heart was found. A device was placed in his heart during surgery to monitor it.

All of this was not easy to accept for a professional athlete who seemed invincible. After all, he was an NFL linebacker who had been named to his first Pro Bowl and was nearing 800 career tackles. Especially troubling to him was the mental side of his rehabilitation.

"After talking to a lot of stroke survivors, sometimes in your recovery you think something's wrong with you," he said. "Why did this happen to me? You go to sleep one night, and you wake up in the morning and your life's totally changed.

"There's nothing wrong with you. It happens to a lot of people."

He had to relearn how to walk. He had to train himself to lift objects again with his left arm. The toughest part, though, was his vision, he said. He felt his body was making strides, but he was surprised when his vision had not.

"I don't think I really seriously started thinking about football until my vision actually returned maybe two to three months later," he said. "If there was one thing that I knew that would prevent me from playing football, it would be that I couldn't see to my left; I'd get killed out there. Until I could have my full vision, it was something I just had to hope and pray."

Bruschi took peripheral vision tests in which he pressed a button each time he saw a lighted dot appear on a screen.

"I thought I was doing pretty well," he said. "Little did I know that (my wife) was shaking her head because all of the dots on the left side, I wasn't recognizing. That's the point where I realized I was in trouble."

He was reminded of the risks every day. The heart monitor he wore especially worried him. And he was the first athlete to try a comeback in such a strenuous contact sport.

"Every couple weeks, I would go in and visit my doctors during the season and do an ultrasound of the heart or an echocardiogram to monitor the progress," he said. "After the first couple of visits, it was sort of nerve-racking. What if it dislodged or it didn't take or anything like that? My doctors pretty much assured me that it wouldn't."

The comeback

Bruschi's vision returned, with his strength and agility. But was his confidence back?

He completed his amazing recovery Oct. 30, 2005, in a nationally televised home victory against the Buffalo Bills. He started and had six tackles and four assists. He played as if he hadn't missed training camp.

"I'll always remember being on the field and starting next to Tedy that game," fellow linebacker Mike Vrabel told the Associated Press. "I'll remember the reaction from the fans and the reaction from the players. It was special."

Bruschi played eight more games that season and finished with 62 tackles and two sacks. He said there was not one particular moment that proved he was back, but rather a progression of events.

"I had to make my first tackle. Once I made my first tackle, I would consciously get up and say, 'OK, there's a tackle,' " he said. "Things like that. I had to experience 'firsts' all over again after coming back from the stroke, knowing it had never been done before.

"Through the playoffs the last three years, and finally getting here now, I think I can say … I'm all the way back."

One of the people most amazed by Bruschi's comeback was Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who said the linebacker, a third-round pick in the 1996 draft, has been invaluable.

"What he went through after the 2004 season and heading in 2005 was something that very few people really go through, especially at that age," Belichick said. "I know there were difficult times for him and times that he didn't ever think he would play football again."

The roots

Through his 12-year NFL career and setback, Bruschi hasn't forgotten about Roseville High. It was there where his defensive-line play warranted a nod as The Bee's all-time greatest Sacramento-area prep football player in a fall 2000 story. He remains close to Cunha, and his fundraising helped build the school's weight room.

Why does that friendship continue?

"It's because it's part of who I am," Bruschi said. "I am from Roseville. And coach Cunha was more than just my football coach. He was my track coach, too, and helped me with the shot put.

"I've kept in touch with those guys. Had some of the coaches come up to New England for games. That's the people who got you started."

Cunha said Bruschi's contribution to the school totals more than the "high six figures" it cost to build the weight room.

"He's always in contact with us or with the school," Cunha said. "One time he came back and talked to our kids during a pregame. It had a huge impact on them."

In the meantime, Bruschi has inspired stroke victims.

"To help this team get back to this point is a sort of a victory for me in itself," Bruschi said. "I have been working with the American Stroke Association a lot, and I know this is a victory for all stroke survivors, as well.

"It is something that I am proud to call myself – a stroke survivor."

The end?

It seems fitting that Bruschi's comeback comes full circle in Arizona.

He starred collegiately at Arizona just 90 miles down Interstate 10. His wife is from Tucson, so friends and family will be plentiful. The only thing that irked him this week were the workouts at Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium, the home of his Pacific-10 Conference rival.

"Being here on this campus is ironic to me," he said. "When coach Belichick told us we were practicing at the Arizona State facility, it gave me a little chill. But still, the entire state of Arizona is a state I feel very fond of."

Bruschi is making his fifth Super Bowl appearance. Not many remember that he played in Super Bowl XXXI during his rookie season when the Patriots lost to the Green Bay Packers in Bill Parcells' last season coaching the Patriots.

Bruschi's list of career accomplishments and statistics take up 6 1/2 pages in the Patriots' media guide. That's a lot for a defensive player.

So will this game be the culmination of what he has endured? Will he call it quits afterward?

"I'm 34 years old and in my 12th year (in the NFL)," Bruschi said. "After the season's over, I ask, How does my body feel? Do I still have the passion to play? I'll sit down with my wife, and we'll discuss those things and we'll go from there."

But Cunha is not so sure today will be Bruschi's last game.

"Yes, he's closer to the end of his career rather than the beginning," Cunha said. "But he still loves the game. He still might have another year in him.

"He's a rational young man. He'll evaluate it … but I still think he's got that fire inside him."

Sports - Feeling super once again - sacbee.com

 

Tedy Bruschi All the way back

by Russ Charpentier
January 31, 2008

"The doctor put his hand on me when I was on the gurney. "He said, 'Tedy, you've had a stroke.' " — Tedy Bruschi

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Those are haunting words.


For more on the Patriots and Giants, and the sights and sounds from Glendale, Ariz., go to our Super Bowl XLII extravaganza.

Tedy Bruschi was on the top of the mountain before hearing those words in February 2005. His New England Patriots had won a third Super Bowl, and a few days before he had played in the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

Then the stroke. The vision in his left eye was affected. He had problems with balance. Recovery was uncertain. No one thought he would play again.

It is any wonder that he said yesterday, "Most definitely, this is the most special Super Bowl for me."

Bruschi missed only the first seven games of the 2005 season. But the three-time champion Patriots, his team, had not been back to the big stage until now.

The 12-year linebacker hears the whispers he's not the player he once was. He asks without answering if it is better to be talented without experience, or experienced with less quickness. A tradeoff.

He's been asked often if he will retire after the Super Bowl. All he'll say is he will assess the situation and speak to his family at the end of the season. Right now, Giants running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs have all his attention.

Clearly, nothing is bothering him. The week is all positive.

He and his team have climbed back up. The top is in sight, and their date with history is within a matter of days.

He is healthy.

"I realize how lucky I am," he said before a small gathering of reporters.

"I don't think anyone has ever said the words before, 'I played professional football again after having a stroke.' It's just something you wouldn't even comprehend."

It's still hard for many of us. Consider that Bruschi, in what many view as a subpar season, led the Patriots for the second straight year with 99 total tackles.

But it's the human side, the side of the pro football player we rarely see, that keeps Bruschi in our sights.

"It was all a gradual process, from learning to write my name again, to walk properly, to wait for my left hip to activate, to getting back my eyesight. I think my eyesight might have been the last thing to come back.

"It took two or three months to return. Past all of that, what took the longest was my mental and emotional state.

"I was a 31-year-old professional football player and I just got back from the Pro Bowl and two days later I had a stroke. It was the ultimate high and the ultimate low and emotionally and mentally that was the toughest for me to recover from."

When he had recovered physically, his doctor gave him medical clearance to return to football. His wife didn't agree.

"My wife told me, 'You're my husband. You're the father of my children. I don't want you to put yourself in danger.' "

So they sought out multiple opinions, and not one conflicted.

"If there was one guy, one doctor that told me I don't think you should do this, 'Tedy, you're putting your family at risk,' I wouldn't have done it."

Patriots linebacker coach Matt Patricia is in his fourth season with the Pats, his second at linebacker coach. Bruschi may have no bigger fan.

"I'm blessed every day I walk in that (locker) room and he's one of the reason's why," Patricia said. "I can't say enough great things about Tedy.

"He's a tremendous person, a tremendous player with an incredible work ethic. His intelligence about the game is incredible. I learned a heck of lot from him, the way he approaches the game and the passion that goes with it. You're talking about a complete football player, that guy."

Should he hang it up after Sunday — and many will be surprised if he doesn't — Bruschi says he wants to stay in pro football.

"Coaching, or talking about the game, or being in the front office, I still want to be in the game."

Staff writer Russ Charpentier can be reached at 508-862-1263 or rcharpentier@capecodonline.com.

http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080131/SPORTS09/801310331

News, Notes & Quotes

BRUSCHI TIES MOST PLAYOFF GAMES BY ANY ACTIVE PLAYER; PLAYS IN FIFTH SUPER BOWL
Tedy Bruschi is playing in his 22nd career playoff game today, tying him with Brett Favre and Adam Vinatieri for the most playoff games by an active NFL player. Bruschi has played in more playoff games than any other player in Patriots history. Jerry Rice holds the NFL record with 29 career playoff games. Bruschi is playing in his fifth career Super Bowl, tying the second highest total in NFL history behind DL Mike Lodish (who played in six Super Bowls with Buffalo and Denver). Bruschi joins 14 other players as having played in five or more Super Bowls. Bruschi’s five Super Bowls ties the NFL record for a linebacker, equaling the five appearances by D.D. Lewis (Dallas), Cornelius Bennett (Buffalo/Atlanta) and Bill Romanowski (San Francisco/Denver/Oakland)

Super Bowl XLII: Game notes

Tedy Bruschi: Definition of a football player

Posted: Feb 3, 2008 11:34 PM

At Super Bowl XLII media day, Arizona Alum Tedy Bruschi was asked why he chose the U of A.

"If I was going to discover if I could be a player to make it," he said, "that was going to be the conference and Arizona was a place with Dick Tomey really taught me how to be a good collegian."

That's what landed Bruschi in Tucson in 1991 and as a member of the Desert Swarm, the defensive tackle made a name for himself by tying the NCAA mark in quarterback sacks.

"I set the record on Jake Plummer, " Bruschi recalls. "It was the last drive, with less than a minute to go, one of the last plays of the game, I was half a sack away from tying the record. I had a great rush around the end and just as I'm bringing him down, Chuck Osborne jumps on, so its only half a sack and I tie the record. I got up from the play and said Chuck, couldn't you have let me have that one by myself, that's a play I fondly remember."

That kind of play as a wildcat led to New England drafting Bruschi in the 3rd round of the 1996 draft.

"When he came here in '96," says New England's head coach Bill Belichick, "it was my first year with the Patriots, he's come a long way since a collegiate defensive tackle to eventually a Pro Bowl linebacker, you just can't say enough about Tedy Bruschi."

Now in his 13th year, Bruschi's got 3 Super Bowl rings and after the 3rd, the linebacker played in the Pro Bowl and then just a week later suffered a life-threatening stroke, one which he would return from the following season to suit up again for the Patriots.

"I think the one message I've sent, not by saying it by being here and doing what I do" says Bruschi, "is that if I can have a stroke and come back and play professional football, you can come back and do what you want to do."

That attitude has the ex-cat playing in his 5th Super Bowl this weekend in Glendale.

"To me when you look up football player in the dictionary, and turn the page, " says coach Belichick. "His picture should be next to it, that's what he is, he's a football player."

KVOA News 4, Tucson, Arizona - Tedy Bruschi: Definition of a football player


GLENDALE, Ariz. –
Tedy Bruschi had enjoyed the family moment he had sought for three years before Super Bowl XLII began. However, it didn't have the fairy-tale ending he was expecting.

Bruschi, one of three New England Patriots with Sacramento-area ties participating in Super Bowl XLII, was making his first appearance Sunday in a Super Bowl since his stroke. He got to romp on the field with his three sons before the game, but he walked off with his second Super Bowl loss in five tries.

The 12-year veteran said Sunday's 17-14 loss to the New York Giants had sunk in, but it didn't feel good.

"All week we talked about how good of a team we expected the Giants to be," the linebacker said. "But we couldn't get the big stop when we needed to. And our offense couldn't get the ball in the end zone. And there you have it."

Bruschi, a former Roseville High School standout, finished second on the Patriots with eight total tackles. Wide receiver Donte' Stallworth, who starred at Grant, caught three passes for 34 yards, including one for 18 yards. Lonie Paxton, who attended Sacramento State, served as long snapper.

Bruschi tied a record for the most playoff games by an active player (22), sharing the record with Packers quarterback Brett Favre and Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri. Bruschi's fifth Super Bowl ties him for the second-highest total in NFL history behind defensive lineman Mike Lodish.

The Giants' game-winning drive, including a scramble-pass by Eli Manning to David Tyree for 32 yards, hung with Bruschi after the game.

"We knew we were one stop away, and we couldn't get that one stop," Bruschi said.

Sports - Disappointing day for Bruschi - sacbee.com


Disappointing day for Bruschi
Patriots' Bruschi, other players with local ties deal with a Giant loss
By Bill Bradley - bbradley@sacbee.com
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, February 4, 2008
Patriots facing issues
Will Moss and Samuel leave? Will Bruschi, Harrison and Seau retire?
By The Associated Press
(Created: Wednesday, February 6, 2008 10:45 AM EST)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. –
The only perfect thing about the Patriots was their record.

Now they don’t even have that.

Dominant in the first half of the season, they survived some close calls afterward. But that finally caught up with them in the Super Bowl and left them facing an offseason of what-ifs and what-will-bes.

What if their offensive line studded with three Pro Bowl players had kept the team’s most important player from being knocked down time after time in the most important game?

Will Randy Moss and Asante Samuel leave?

Will Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau, the three oldest defensive starters, retire?

And next time, will coach Bill Belichick hang around until the end of the game instead of heading for the locker room with a second left and a security escort Tom Brady would have envied.

The two-time Super Bowl MVP couldn’t elude the steamrolling pass rush of the New York Giants the way he does the paparazzi who stalk him on the streets of the city where the new Super Bowl champions will be honored at a victory parade today.

Brady was sacked five times in Sunday’s 17-14 loss, the most in his 92 games since the New York Jets did that in the third game of the 2003 season on Sept. 21, 2003.

So the Patriots finished 18-1 and disappointed, not 19-0 and historic. That left the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who were 17-0, as the only NFL team to go undefeated.

About 200 fans, though, turned out at Gillette Stadium on Monday night to cheer returning players. Belichick spent about three minutes slapping and shaking their hands. At one point, as about a dozen cameramen pressed in on him and blocked his path, Belichick pushed one aside.

“Bill, Bill, Bill,” one excited fan yelled.

“Thank you, coach,” said another.

Brady, who was not among about 30 players who returned to the stadium, was a near unanimous choice for the league’s MVP and was brilliant in the first eight games of the season. He was not as good after that.

His five worst passer ratings came in his last eight games, including the postseason. In the AFC championship game against San Diego, he threw a season-high three interceptions. In the Super Bowl, he was uncharacteristically inaccurate on some passes even when he had time to throw.

“I’m sure we all could have done things better, but it’s just part of competition,” Brady said of the devastating defeat.

New England won three Super Bowls in four seasons before falling short the next three years – losing to Denver in a divisional playoff game, to Indianapolis in last year’s AFC championship game and to New York in the latest disappointment.

After coming so close last season, the Patriots added receivers Moss, Wes Welker and Donte’ Stallworth. They signed free agent Adalius Thomas for their aging group of linebackers. And they kept Samuel, designating the star cornerback a franchise player and signing him for one year after he held out for a long-term contract.

The offense set several single-season records: 50 touchdown passes by Brady, 23 scoring catches by Moss and 589 total points.

But the season began with off-field problems.

Harrison, the hard-hitting safety, was suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

After the season-opening 38-14 win over the New York Jets, the NFL fined Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000 and took away a first-round draft choice as punishment for videotaping Jets’ coaches on their sideline.

That only fired up the Patriots. They were accused of running up the score in some of their wins.

But the Patriots shrugged off the criticism and kept focusing on the next opponent. They won each of their first eight games by at least 17 points.

Then the powerhouse that pulled away from opponents began letting them hang around.

In their ninth game, they beat Indianapolis 24-20 on a touchdown with 3:15 left. In their 11th, they scored the go-ahead touchdown with 7:20 to go but needed two interceptions in the last four minutes to clinch the 31-28 win over Philadelphia.

The following week was the greatest of escapes.

They trailed 24-20 at Baltimore and failed twice on fourth down in the last two minutes. But the first play was nullified by a false start penalty against the Patriots and the second by a holding call against the Ravens. On the next play, Brady threw the winning 8-yard scoring pass to Jabar Gaffney with 44 seconds left.

And, in the last regular-season game, the defense struggled in a 38-35 win over the Giants.

But how long could their good fortune hold out?

Not long enough.

With 2:42 left in the Super Bowl, Brady’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Moss gave the Patriots a 14-10 lead.

But the defense couldn’t hold it. Eli Manning directed an 83-yard drive and hit Plaxico Burress for the decisive 13-yard scoring pass with 35 seconds remaining.

Perfection denied.

“It’s not even worth talking about it now because it’s over. It didn’t happen,” Bruschi said. “We can look back on this year with a positive attitude and some of the things we accomplished. But when you don’t finish, I mean, that’s all we’re about.”

Belichick didn’t finish either.

After Brady’s fourth-down desperation pass to Moss fell incomplete, Belichick went on the field for a handshake with Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

There was still 1 second left, but Belichick continued toward the locker room as Manning knelt down on the final play. Moss once left the field with 2 seconds remaining in a regular-season loss to Washington when he was with Minnesota and was criticized for it by his quarterback, Daunte Culpepper.

Belichick, at least, will be back.

Seau, 39, may not be.

“I haven’t thought about the future. I am having too much fun,” he said. Losing “will not affect my decision.”

Harrison, 35, was beset by injuries in 2006 and 2007. Bruschi, 34, suffered a stroke after the Patriots last Super Bowl win but returned midway through the next season in 2005.

“I can’t let that loss take away from everything that happened this season,” Harrison said.

Moss, who took a pay cut for a shot at the Super Bowl, may not be back for another with the Patriots.

“I would love to be in a New England Patriots uniform,” he said, “but, if not, the show must go on.”

It will continue with Belichick and Brady, of course, partners in four Super Bowls – all decided by three points.

“We usually are on the better side of those three-point wins,” Brady said. “We just have to regroup and come back and try to make it stronger next year.”

 

The Westerly Sun

Newsday.com
Patriots' defense showed its age

BY TOM ROCK

tom.rock@newsday.com

11:27 PM EST, February 4, 2008

PHOENIX

Rodney Harrison was a step away from an interception on the dramatic catch by David Tyree. Tedy Bruschi was run over by Brandon Jacobs. The only time we heard from Mike Vrabel was when he checked in as an eligible receiver.

The Patriots' defense had delivered their own self-deprecating jabs during Super Bowl week by calling themselves old. Vrabel said before the game that when they play well, they are "experienced"; when they don't, they are "old."

When the game finally came around, however, they continued the gag too far and actually played as if they were over the hill. After 18 3/4 games of dominance, the Patriots' defense finally ran out of gas.

"We knew we were one stop away and we couldn't get that stop," Bruschi said.

That's a rare occurrence in New England.

The Patriots' defense has been the key to their remarkable run of championships in the last seven years. But now, after allowing two fourth-quarter touchdown drives to the Giants, including one that went 83 yards in 12 plays before landing in the end zone with 35 seconds remaining, that backbone may need a chiropractic adjustment.

This also was the second time in two years that the Patriots' season ended when they couldn't stop a fourth-quarter spurt in the playoffs. Last year, it was Peyton Manning and the Colts, who scored 17 points in the final period to win the AFC Championship Game, including the winning touchdown on Joseph Addai's run with 1:00 remaining.

They came back angry from that loss. Wiser. But this summer, they'll come back older.

Even if they had won Sunday, the Patriots' defense was due for a facelift. Asante Samuel is sure to be the biggest cornerback on this year's free-agent market. Linebacker Junior Seau is sure to be contemplating another retirement, although he said the outcome of this Super Bowl will not affect his decision.

Don't count the Patriots out in 2008, though. Their offense is still a remarkable machine with Tom Brady and, presumably, a re-signed Randy Moss, who has said he wants to finish his career in New England.

They lost one of their best linebackers, Rosevelt Colvin, to injury during the season and will bring back Adalius Thomas, the one linebacker who played well against the Giants. They have a stout front line with Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork.

They have Bill Belichick, who undoubtedly will spend the next seven months before the 2008 season opener figuring out what went wrong and trying to fix it.

And they have the seventh pick in April's draft.

But if the Patriots are able to return to Super Bowl XLIII, their fifth visit in eight years, it will not be on the backs of those same names who have become synonymous with their success. Many players consider the logo on the side of the helmet to be a caricature of Bruschi, who will be an unrestricted free agent next month. But when the 2008 season begins, Vrabel will be 33, Bruschi 35 and Harrison 35. Seau, should he return, will be 39.

When there's that much mileage on the tires, they're due for a blowout. That came in Super Bowl XLII. But Belichick and the Patriots have always seemed to be carrying a spare.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

Patriots' defense showed its age -- Newsday.com

Failure to make final stop leaves Patriots pained
By Gary Mihoces, USA TODAY
GLENDALE, Ariz. —
The drained looks on the faces of veteran New England Patriots defenders Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi showed the crushing emotion of the big one that got away.

New England had a four-point lead with 2:42 remaining in Super Bowl XLII on Sunday night. The Patriots Defense had to make one more stop to preserve a perfect and historic 19-0 season.

Instead, Eli Manning led the New York Giants on a 12-play, 83-yard drive, capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress, to clinch a 17-14 victory.

"We are extremely disappointed. We worked so hard this year to try stay focused and win one game at a time. … We just came up short," said Harrison, a strong safety in his 14th NFL season. "Somebody has to lose. They just made more plays than us.

"What can you say? Eli played great."

Bruschi, a 12th-year linebacker, managed a weak smile when he sat down for his interview.

"It's very disappointing to come this far and lose the biggest game of the year. … But congratulations to the Giants," he said.

On their winning drive, the Giants faced a third-and-5 at their own 44-yard line with 1:15 left. With defenders clutching at his jersey, Manning managed to scramble free and throw a 32-yard pass to wideout David Tyree. The play carried to the Patriots' 24-yard line.

Four plays later, Manning found Burress for the winning score. Burress was wide open after beating Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs.

"I just think it was a football game," Bruschi said. "That was a great two-minute drill at the end of the game. Those are great plays. Those are the plays you need to make to become world champion, and they did."

The Giants' winning drive started at their own 17-yard line. It produced multiple moments of truth for the New England defense on a night when Tom Brady and the offense weren't racking up their usual big numbers.

Just before Manning's winning TD toss, the Giants had a third-and-11 at the Patriots' 25. Manning connected with Steve Smith for 12 yards and a first down at the 13. The game-winner followed.

"We were one stop away and couldn't get that stop," Bruschi said.

Failure to make final stop leaves Patriots pained - USATODAY.com

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 7, 2008

Bruschi has experienced both sides

BY MARK FARINELLA / SUN CHRONICLE STAFF

GLENDALE, Ariz. - His routine was pretty much the same as the last time the Patriots won one of these things; work hard, relax with his family, then get his game face on and go out and play.

Only this time, Tedy Bruschi experienced a very different outcome.

For the second time in five Super Bowl appearances, the Patriots' veteran linebacker knows how it feels to lose. And he doesn't like it at all.

"It's very disappointing to come this far and lose the biggest game of the year is disappointing," Bruschi said after Sunday's 17-14 loss to the New York Giants at University of Phoenix Stadium. "You prepare, you have two weeks to prepare for this game and think you're going to put a good showing out there and both teams think they're going to win the game."

Super Bowl XLII went the wrong way for the Patriots, and it didn't take as long for that to sink in for Bruschi as some of the victories took to embrace.

"I think it's evident when you lose the Super Bowl, when you're walking off the field and you're getting confetti sprayed in your face with the other team's colors," he said. "You realize what happened. I'm not in shock or anything like that.

"All week we talked about how good of a team we expected the Giants to be," he said. "You know we thought they were a good team. I think we made some good plays defensively, they were able to score three points in the first half and then they came back and scored a couple of touchdowns on us. But we couldn't get the big stop when we needed to and our offense couldn't the ball in the end zone and there you have it."

Most frustrating to Bruschi were plays like the one on the Giants' final possession, when Eli Manning escaped an almost certain sack and ran around until he found little used wide receiver David Tyree for a 32-yard gain deep inside Patriot territory.

"We knew we were one stop away and we couldn't get that stop," Bruschi said, "Like I said, we had our chances on fourth down and possibly some balls that could have been intercepted. But those are plays that we didn't make the Tyree catch, the Manning escape, I think three of our guys had hands on him. Those are plays I'm sure we'll be on highlights for years and years."

In his 12th NFL season, Bruschi brought his best effort to Phoenix. He made eight tackles, second on the team to Rodney Harrison, but he knows in his heart that it wasn't enough for a team that had prided itself in its ability to play every game the full 60 minutes, from beginning to end, without letup.

"It's a tough way to finish," he said. "Not even what was on the line, or anything like that. It's the Super Bowl. The winner is the World Champion and the loser is just grouped into the 31 other teams."

And in this instance, defeat meant the difference between sports immortality as the only 19-0 team in the history of the NFL, and just being a footnote as the team that couldn't finish the job.

"It's not even worth talking about it now because it's over, it didn't happen," Bruschi said of the Patriots' place in history. "We can look back on this year with a positive attitude and some of the things we accomplished. But when you don't finish, I mean, that's all we're about. We're about finishing the task at hand and we expect to win because we've had success in the past.

"When you come up short I think you just have to tip your cap to the other team, they're a great team, they're the World Champions," he said.

The Sun Chronicle Online - Sports

Tedy mulling his retirement

Bruschi, others may be done

By Jennifer Toland TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
jtoland@telegram.com



GLENDALE, Ariz.— Rodney Harrison removed his red, white and blue cap one day earlier this week and pointed to the “Flying Elvis” logo on the front of it.

“It reminds me of Tedy Bruschi,” Harrison said. “That’s what Tedy Bruschi is — he’s the heart and soul of our team. He’s a guy who really symbolizes what it’s like to be a New England Patriot.”

In his heyday, Bruschi was a playmaker and catalyst of New England’s dominant defensive units of the early 2000s. More recently, he has become an inspirational figure, coming back from a stroke, and, though he slowed this season, a role model for the Patriots’ younger players. Aside from Tom Brady, he’s probably the most familiar face of the franchise.


Last night at University of Phoenix Stadium, Bruschi played in his Patriots-record fifth, and possibly final, Super Bowl. The 34-year-old linebacker mulled retirement at the end of each of the last two seasons, and, after 12 years in the league, this may finally be it.

“After every season, I sort of reassess things,” Bruschi said this week. “That’s what I’ll do.”

Bruschi certainly hoped to go out on top, but the Patriots’ perfect season came to a startling end with a 17-14 loss to the Giants.

“It’s a tough way to finish,” Bruschi said. “It’s the Super Bowl. The winner is the world champion, and the loser is just grouped into the 31 other teams.”

It will also be decision-making time for Troy Brown, Junior Seau and possibly Rodney Harrison.

Patriots fans have likely seen the last of Brown’s playing days. He was inactive for Super Bowl XLII.

Also one of the most popular and beloved players to ever wear a Patriots uniform, Brown, who will be 37 in July, was reflective this week as he looked back on his past Super Bowl experiences, but wouldn’t give a definitive answer on his future, either.

“I’ll leave that to when the season is over,” Brown said.

Brown, like Bruschi, was on the 1996 Patriots squad that lost to Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXI, but did not play against the Packers because of a hernia injury.

Brown, who had offseason knee surgery, started the year on the physically unable to perform list. He played in one game — the regular-season home finale — and suited up for, but did not play in, the divisional playoff game against the Jaguars. He was inactive for the AFC Championship.

He remained the loyal soldier.

“It has been an enjoyable season,” Brown said. “I have taken it all in just like everybody else. I have missed the contact on the field and being able to get out there and make plays for the team. I still have a great feeling about being here.”

Seau, 39, retired or, in his words, “graduated,” in 2006. Patriots coach Bill Belichick lured him back for two more seasons. Despite the fact he has played well at times this season, it’s likely the end for him, too.

Seau wanted to end his illustrious 18-year career with the only thing it has lacked — a Super Bowl ring.

He said last night’s result would not impact his decision about whether to retire.

Harrison, 35, was also asked about his future this week.

“I feel great. I’ve been playing good football,” Harrison said. “Right now, I can’t really say that I feel like I want to move on and not play football anymore.”

For Seau and Harrison, who were also teammates in San Diego for nine years, it has been a special season to share together. Harrison stood with his right hand on Seau’s shoulder during last night’s national anthem.

Worcester Telegram & Gazette News

Opinion by Greg Hansen : To Bruschi, loss makes season moot
Opinion by Greg Hansen

GLENDALE
Tedy Bruschi combed his hair, left his game face in the Patriots locker room, put on a brown sweater and walked alone to an enormous tent designed for media interviews.
"Tedy Bruschi now at podium 9," said a voice over the intercom. About 30 reporters bunched close. Bruschi spoke up, clearly and audibly. If he was hurting, he didn't let it show.
"It's a shame we couldn't finish it, but at the Super Bowl, the loser is just lumped in with the other 30 teams," he said. "I'm not shocked. But I didn't like getting confetti with the other team's colors sprayed in my face."
He smiled weakly.
The former UA All-American was neither maudlin nor emotional. He was what most 12-year NFL veterans are. He was a realist. The Patriots will not be the first pro football team to go 19-0. He will not win his fourth Super Bowl ring. The New York Giants, a wild card entry, beat the Patriots 17-14 in a comeback for the ages Sunday night and they are the exciting new champions.
The Patriots immediately became old news.
Someone asked Bruschi about the failure to go 19-0.
"It's not even worth talking about," he said. And so he didn't.
At that moment, the intercom system in the media tent was broken by this announcement: "Antonio Pierce now at podium 5" Many in the group talking to Bruschi scattered to chat with Pierce, another former Wildcat standout. Pierce was still wearing his game uniform, complete with grass stains. He kept tugging at his Super Bowl XLII Champions cap.
Unlike Bruschi, Pierce was not introspective. He was, instead, brassy, as is his reputation.
He insisted that New England quarterback Tom Brady was "rattled."
"I kept hearing him yelling at his linemen," he said. "This is so great because it silenced so many people who didn't believe in us."
Someone asked Pierce what he thought about the Patriots' truncated dream of finishing the season 19-0 and he made light of the many books, some of them already at the printer, based on a perfect season.
"Maybe the book should be called '18-1: The World Champion New York Giants.' Someone should write that book."
Because New York is the media capital of America, many books will be written about the New York Giants of 2007 and Super Bowl XLII. They won eight straight road games, including playoff victories at Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay.
They were supposedly equipped with the wrong Manning, Eli, not his accomplished older brother, last year's Super Bowl champion quarterback, Peyton Manning.
No one has ever called Giants coach Tom Coughlin a genius, a word that has been much too loosely tossed around to describe Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
But today and for posterity, the '07 Giants will be called champions.
It will make for good reading.
Bruschi acknowledged that the Giants' compelling rally, an 83-yard drive in the final 2:43, will be remembered forever.
"The escape by Eli and the catch by (David) Tyree are plays that win Super Bowls," Bruschi said. "We had our chances, but they executed at the most critical times of the game."
Manning's magnificent escape from a Patriots pass rush, and his desperate, 32-yard pass to Tyree on a third-down play with 59 seconds remaining is surely one of the epic plays in 42 years of Super Bowls.
Coughlin, a 61-year-old head coach who made his way through the system after stops at Rochester Institute of Technology, Syracuse and Boston College and as an NFL assistant in three cities, knew immediately what the Manning-to-Tyree pass meant.
"That might be one of the great plays of all time," he said. No one was available to disagree.
For the Patriots, the inability to finish their 18-0 start will be fodder for sports-talk shows and internet postings for months. Years, perhaps.
Rather than enter history with the '27 Yankees and the '72 Lakers, they will now be lumped with the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who won a baseball record 116 regular-season games but failed to reach the World Series.
The Patriots are now in company with the 1991 UNLV Rebels basketball team, one that went 34-0 and then collapsed in the final three minutes of a Final Four game, losing to Duke, snapping a 46-game winning streak.
"I think the '72 Dolphins can come and join us a little bit in our celebration that we are going to have Tuesday," said Pierce. "We did save them their (lone) perfect season."
The Patriots probably aren't finished as a Super Bowl contender. Belichick is 55, single-minded, apparently ready to coach into his 60s as did Tom Landry and Don Shula.
Brady is 30, and does not appear the worse for wear. Among other Super Bowl quarterbacks, Troy Aikman went until he was 34, John Elway to 38 and John Unitas to 40. Of Sunday's Patriots starters, only Bruschi, 34, fellow linebacker Junior Seau, 39, and defensive back Rodney Harrison, 35, are older than 32.
But fame is fleeting in pro football, especially pro football, and neither the Patriots nor the Giants can be sure they'll be good enough to reach Super Bowl XLIII.
"This is the beginning of something new," Pierce said. "We shocked the world but not ourselves. We played at a different speed and a different level today. It was difficult, but we did it."
Watch a slide show and video from the Super Bowl at go.azstarnet.com/superbowl

Opinion by Greg Hansen : To Bruschi, loss makes season moot | www.azstarnet.com ®

 

 

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