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Bill Belichick on Don Brocher: ‘He was here to help the rest of us, and we’ll miss him’ 01.02.13 at 2:12 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spent the first two minutes of his press conference Wednesday giving a heartfelt tribute to longtime equipment manager Don Brocher, the longest-tenured employee of the team. Brocher passed away due to complications from a battle with leukemia early Tuesday morning.

Brocher, who just turned 60 in November, leaves behind his wife, Laurie.

“I’d just say that as a football team, an organization, we’re saddened by the loss of Donnie this weekend,” Belichick said. “In a game where, we all see what kind of changes were made on Monday throughout the league, for somebody to be here 40 years, doing the job that he did for so many owners, coaches, general managers, you name it, players, was really a tribute to his dedication, consistency, dependability, quality of the work that he did.”

Brocher began his Patriots career in 1972 and became a institution inside the locker room, filling many different needs of player and coaches.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to [Brocher’s wife] Laurie and his family, and he’s a guy that six months ago when [former Patriots assistant equipment manager] John Hillebrand went to Jacksonville, sat in my office and we talked about how — he talked about how good he was feeling, how much he was looking forward to a few more years on the job, and then doing some other things he was looking forward to. And then six months later, where we are today,” Belichick said.

Belichick seemed most emotional when talking about the last time the team saw him, during the Sunday night game with the 49ers, as he spent time on the sidelines.

“Don was here for the San Francisco game,” Belichick said. “I don’t think anybody really had a sense of the physical and mental toughness he displayed that night just by being here, and doing his job and being here for us in that type of situation. But that was kind of Donnie, he was never one to complain, never one to talk about how he was doing, he was there to help the rest of us, and we’ll miss him.”

The Patriots released the following obituary on Wednesday:

Donald ‘€œDonnie’€ S. Brocher, 60, a Boston native and a resident of Norton, Mass., lost his battle to Leukemia and died peacefully at Massachusetts General Hospital on New Year’€™s Day, Tuesday, January 1, 2013. Laurie, his beloved wife and best friend for 23 years, was at his bedside along with family and friends when he died.

Born the son of Edwin and Betty Brocher on November 23, 1952 in Boston, Mass., Don was raised in Marblehead, Mass along with his sister Debbie and brothers David, Danny and Bobby. His first love was hockey and his childhood sports idol was the Boston Bruins‘€™ Bobby Orr. He attended Beverly High School where, as a senior, he served as the equipment manager for the high school’€™s hockey team, and graduated in 1970. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Don Brocher, Jacksonville Jaguars, John Hillebrand
Longtime Patriots equipment man Don Brocher dies of leukemia 01.01.13 at 2:29 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The new year started off on a somber note for the Patriots as they learned of the passing of Don Brocher, the longest-tenured employee in franchise history, to a season-long battle against leukemia.

Brocher, the team’€™s equipment manager, succumbed to the blood cancer early Tuesday morning after turning 60 on Nov. 23. The 2012 season was his 41st with the Patriots.

‘€œThe Kraft family and the entire Patriots organization awoke with very heavy hearts this morning,’€ said Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft in statement released on New Year’s Day.

‘€œThat is when most of us learned of Don’€™s passing. He had fought this deadly disease so valiantly all season long. We were all optimistic that he would defeat it and fully recover. He was back on our sidelines just two weeks ago for our game against the 49ers and I can’€™t remember ever seeing him happier. I am glad I had that opportunity to thank him once again for his loyalty and countless contributions to the team. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Laurie, and all who knew Don and are mourning his loss today.’€

Brocher began working for the Patriots as a ball boy on the equipment manager’€™s staff in 1972 and was hired full-time as an assistant that season. He remained a member of the team’€™s equipment staff since then and was promoted from assistant to equipment manager in February of 1994, shortly after Kraft purchased the team. He was entering his 19th season as equipment manager and his 41st season overall with the Patriots when he was diagnosed with leukemia in June of 2012.

In August, when the Patriots traveled to Tampa for their preseason game against the Buccaneers, Brocher stayed behind. It was the first Patriots game he had missed in 40 years, snapping a streak of 834 consecutive Patriots games that he had worked, including 37 of the franchise’€™s 39 postseason games. He was proud to be a member of each of the franchise’€™s seven Super Bowl teams and celebrated each of the Patriots’€™ three Super Bowl championships.

During his Patriots career, he handled the equipment needs for thousands of players during the tenures of 11 of the franchise’€™s 14 head coaches.

Brocher was born Nov. 23, 1952 in Boston. He and his wife Laurie have been long-time residents of Norton. Funeral services are not available at this time but will be distributed once the arrangements have been finalized.

Read More: Don Brocher, New England Patriots, nfl,
Setting the scene: Patriots-Steelers 10.30.11 at 11:03 am ET
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Clear skies and temperatures in the mid-to-upper 40s are expected as two of the four AFC division leaders square off on the natural grass of Heinz Field. There will no doubt be plenty of Halloween costumes in the sellout crowd at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny, just like there was on Oct. 31, 2004, when the Steelers were a nightmare, beating the Patriots 34-20, at Heinz.

The field condition on a grass surface is always of concern to Pats coach Bill Belichick. It was worth noting that after his Friday morning press conference ‘€“ and shortly after donning his Tony La Russa Cardinals jersey ‘€“ he met for several minutes with Don Brocher inside the equipment office of the Patriots locker room.

It would hardly be surprising to discover the subject of Heinz Field came up, as likely did what shoes and cleats would be best suited for the conditions.

Also remember, the field ‘€“ which has a notorious reputation around the NFL for coming apart – hosted a Big East battle between UConn-Pittsburgh on Wednesday night and Western Pennsylvania received an icy, wintry mix from the early onset of the Nor’€™easter that belted New England late Saturday night.

It is not uncommon for Brocher to make sure each player has a choice of two or three spikes. Testing the field early on will be particularly important for the visiting Patriots on this October afternoon.

It remains to be seen whether or not the field conditions impact the Patriots decision to play linebacker Jerod Mayo, who missed the final two games before the bye week with a left knee injury. The injury was initially reported as a strain of the MCL, with Mayo expected to miss several weeks to let it heal.

One wonders if the grass field at Reliant Stadium will pass through Belichick’€™s mind before kickoff since it was on that sketchy field in Jan. 2010 that Wes Welker slipped making a cut and tore his ACL.

In addition to Mayo, Belichick also has decisions to make on running back Kevin Faulk (coming off a 2010 ACL tear) and DL Brandon Deaderick, both of whom have been activated off the PUP list this week.

The field is traditionally covered by a tarp whenever inclement weather hits so the field is expected to be good at the start of the game.

The Patriots will be will be significantly shorthanded in the secondary as Josh Barrett was ruled out Saturday night with a thumb injury. Add to that the decision by the Patriots to place rookie corner Ras-I Dowling on injured reserve Saturday and the release of veteran corner Leigh Bodden on Friday, and the Patriots will have their work cut out trying to stop the aerial attack of Ben Roethlisberger. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Dan Marino, Don Brocher, Halloween
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