Bruschi will announce his retirement Monday
|08.30.09 at 10:11 pm ET|
WEEI.com has confirmed the news that Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi will announce his retirement at a 10:45 a.m. press conference Monday.
The news was first reported by Al Michaels at the start of the second half of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” broadcast of the Chicago-Denver preseason game. Shortly after Michaels’ broke the story, the Patriots issued a statement saying an “important player announcement” would take place at Gillette Stadium at 10:45 a.m. Monday.
One of the most beloved players in the history of the franchise, Bruschi was a third-round pick out of Arizona in 1996, and played the last 13 seasons for the Patriots. Over the course of his career, he was a part of nine playoff seasons, eight division championships, five conference titles and three Super Bowl titles.
The 36-year-old linebacker suffered a stroke 10 days after New England’s win in Super Bowl XXXIX. After a lengthy rehab, he returned to play in the final nine games of the 2005 season, and was named The AP Comeback Player of the Year.
However, Bruschi’s play had started to slip in recent years. He saw his playing time decrease significantly last season, and eventually ended up splitting snaps with young linebacker Gary Guyton at inside linebacker. This summer, his presence was a rare sight during training camp. With the continued emergence of young linebacker Jerod Mayo — and the Patriots going with Mayo in the middle of their 4-3 defense — he was clearly a man struggling to forge a new identity. He touched on some of the challenges he faced in an interview with reporters after a training camp session on Aug. 16.
“I look at today. I look at today, and the challenge I faced today was to come back after a long layoff and sort of feeling like it was my first day again,” he said. “That’s the number one challenge in terms of getting back to playing football the way I want to play it, and also with myself and all the other linebackers in our room. It’s about establishing yourself as a member of this team that has a role on this team.”
Bruschi started his New England career as a special teams player and situational linebacker. He became a starter in 1999, a role he would have for most of the rest of his career. In all, he played in 189 regular-season games, more than any linebacker in the history of the franchise. A 2004 Pro Bowler, he also had a sack and an interception in that year’s Super Bowl win over the Eagles.
However, his value to the team went above and beyond numbers. He was respected by almost everyone in the Patriots’ locker room — he was one of a precious few players left on the roster who could trace his pro football lineage back to the cold showers and cramped locker rooms at Foxboro Stadium. And few players were more beloved by the fan base.
“A terrific football player, a great friend of mine, one of the hardest-working guys that I’ve ever been around,” said former teammate Rodney Harrison, currently an analyst for NBC Sports who sat in for part of the Sunday night telecast. “A tremendous leader in that locker room, a guy that was an integral part of that 2003-2004 Super Bowl run that we had.”
“Tedy’s meant so much to this organization, to this team, and really to the entire community,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Bruschi in 2008. “If I were to open the dictionary to ‘football player’ and see Tedy Bruschi’s picture there, that would be fitting. He’s all about football.
“He’s a great leader, he’s a great worker, he’s very unselfish. There isn’t a player on our team, I don’t think, that doesn’t look up to Tedy Bruschi’s attitude, toughness and consistency as a football player. We’re really lucky to have Tedy on our team, and the comeback he’s made since the beginning of the calendar ‘05 year after the ‘04 season has truly been remarkable. He’s a special guy.”
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