The New England Patriots have seen an era of success unlike any other in the NFL. Legendary players have come and gone throughout the team’s history. This year, leading up to the 2018 season, the team here at Last Word on Pro Football will crack the open the history books to offer insight on the team’s most storied players. Last week, we detailed three-time Super Bowl Champion Kevin Faulk. This week, we’ll review another three-time champion – a man who is arguably the greatest linebacker to ever play in New England: Tedy Bruschi.
Tedy Bruschi: New England Patriots of the Past
In high school, Bruschi made a name for himself as an all-conference defensive tackle pick for the Roseville High School Tigers in Roseville, CA. After graduating, Bruschi played for the Arizona Wildcats football team, recording 185 total tackles and six fumbles. On top of that, Bruschi tied the NCAA Division I-A sack record with 52 sacks over his college career. Bruschi dabbled in the linebacker position while in college, but he was mostly used as a defensive lineman, and for good reason. In 1995, he was rightfully named best defensive lineman in the Pacific-10 Conference.
Can’t Stop a Champion
In true Patriot fashion, New England did not view Bruschi as Bruschi was viewed in college. After being drafted in the third round of the 1996 NFL draft, the Patriots swapped Bruschi to the linebacker position. By the end of his rookie season, Bruschi had come within reach of tying the Super Bowl sack record during Super Bowl XXXI. The Patriots ultimately lost that game but returned a few years later to defeat the record-breaking St. Louis Rams offense in 2001.
Bruschi went on to help the Patriots win back to back Super Bowls in 2004 and 2005. As if those wins weren’t enough, Bruschi followed Super Bowl XXXIX with a Pro Bowl appearance. Unfortunately, Bruschi suffered a minor stroke following that game. The stroke initially led him to announce that he would sit out during the 2005 season. However, by October of that year, he was medically cleared and activated by the Patriots at the end of October. He, alongside Steve Smith, was named the 2005 NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
A Man of Many Numbers
During his 13-season career in New England, Bruschi played in 189 games – 139 of which he started. He recorded over 1,100 tackles and 30 sacks. He forced 11 fumbles and reeled in 12 interceptions, becoming the first player in NFL history to return four consecutive interceptions for touchdowns. In 2013, Bruschi became the 19th player to enter the New England Patriots Hall of Fame. Bruschi’s record of excellence continued on after his retirement in 2008, as his former jersey – No. 54 – is now worn by the team’s current defensive leader, Dont’a Hightower.
Forever a Patriot
Bruschi’s life after football has gone well, and has largely been influenced by his stroke in 2005. On top of being named a spokesman for the American Heart Association, Bruschi founded Tedy’s Team to help fundraise for stroke research. Also following his retirement, he joined ESPN as a broadcast analyst, a role he has excelled in. As a “former” Patriot, Bruschi has been overwhelmingly supportive of his old team (and teammates), but critical when necessary.
Nevertheless, Bruschi remains staunchly defensive of his former team – quick to shut down any argument suggesting the New England Patriots are anything less than strong, united, and successful.
Embed from Getty Images