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There is no player that embodied what it meant to be a Patriot more then Tedy Bruschi. Now, after 13 seasons, he will hang up his cleats and leave the game as a three-time Super Bowl champion and one of the greatest Patriots of all time.
During the press conference Monday, Bruschi was alongside coach Bill Belichick, team owner Robert Kraft and his wife Heidi. The words spoken by both Kraft and Belichick summed up everything he meant to the team. He was a leader, and as Belichick put it, “a perfect player.”
Weeks before his 14th NFL season would begin, Bruschi decided to call it a career. He has played in five Super Bowls, winning three, and was a standout at the linebacker position. He was a symbol for endurance and perseverance.
There are two memories that will be embedded in fans minds for years to come when it comes to Bruschi.
After playing in that Super Bowl, and playing in his second Pro Bowl, Bruschi suffered a career-threatening stroke. This would normally put a normal man on the bench for good, but eight months later, Bruschi was back on the field. He was later named co-Comeback Player of the Year.
He said he accomplished everything he set out to do; that his career was “fulfilled.” New England Patriots fans will always remember the way No. 54 was a member of this team.
For 13 seasons, Tedy Bruschi spent his time in New England. Coming out of Arizona, He was a two-time All American and was the 1995 Morris Trophy winner for the Pac-10’s best defensive lineman. He was drafted by the Patriots in the third round of the 1996 draft and had an immediate impact.
He played in every game as a rookie, mainly as a pass rusher and on the special teams. He was part of the Super Bowl XXXI team against Green Bay where he recorded two sacks, one shy of the Super Bowl record. In 1999, he became a starter and solidified that spot with 100 plus tackles in consecutive seasons.
In 2001, Bruschi was one of the top players wearing a Patriots uniform and was vital in sealing a Super Bowl XXXVI victory. The following season, Bruschi was named a defensive captain, as voted by his teammates. In 2003, Bruschi return two interceptions for touchdowns, including the “Snow Game” against Miami. He was an anchor to the linebacking core that saw the Patriots take Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina.
The year 2004 was full of career highlights for Bruschi. As part of the team that won a then-record 18 consecutive games, which would later be broken by the Pats from 2006-2008, Bruschi was second on the team in tackles, which led to a Pro Bowl nod. In the Divisional Round against the Colts, Bruschi recovered two fumbles as the Patriots crushed the Colts, 20-3. Super Bowl XXXIX saw Bruschi deliver a hard sack, six solo tackles and an interception…and another ring.
After the Super Bowl and Bruschi’s second career Pro Bowl, he suffered his stroke and his career was in jeopardy. However, eight months later he made his return against the Buffalo Bills and look as good as ever. He returned in 2006 full time, once again being named defensive captain and he never relinquished that honor.
He was never a Defensive Player of the Year. He went in day in, day out, doing his job. Outside of New England, he leaves as just another player, but within the Northeast, he leaves as one of the best.
He has played in 22 playoff games, more then any other player in Patriots history. He recorded 1,110 tackles, 30.5 sacks and 12 interceptions through his whole career. He’s the only player in NFL history with four consecutive interceptions returned for touchdowns and the only Patriots linebacker to return an interception for touchdown twice in one season. The first of the touchdowns was a block punt he recovered during his rookie year against Baltimore.
In the area, he was a strong presence. He won awards for his work within the Boston area, including the Senator Paul E. Tsongas award for Exemplary Public Service. Some may not know, but he was also a saxophone player who once played with the Boston Pops.
Bruschi’s number will most likely be retired by the Patriots, probably during this season. He was a tremendous player and valuable asset to the team. Whether he should he make the Hall of Fame remains to be seen. The Hall of Fame tends to remember the great champions, and Bruschi is one of them. Three Super Bowl wins in five appearances, countless crucial sacks and interceptions made Bruschi truly one of the game’s elite.
As a new season dawns, fans will look forward to the new stacked linebacker core. Jerod Mayo and Adalius Thomas will lead the linebackers and they should prove to be as exciting as ever. However, New England fans will never forget the effort and dedication Tedy Bruschi put into the game and the impact he had on the Patriots.
With all the accomplishments and championships aside, there is only one thing to say…
Thank you Tedy Bruschi!
(see video highlights of Bruschi’s retirement press conference below)
Should the Patriots retire Tedy Bruschi's No. 54?
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