Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi set to retire from career marked by comeback from mild strokeBy Howard Ulman, AP
Monday, August 31, 2009
Patriots LB Bruschi retiring after 13 seasons
BOSTON — Tedy Bruschi is retiring after a 13-year career marked by an inspiring return to the New England Patriots as a starting linebacker eight months after a stroke.
A person familiar with his decision told The Associated Press on Sunday night that the 36-year-old Bruschi will announce his retirement at a news conference Monday morning. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.
The team declined to comment Sunday night and called a news conference “for an important player announcement” Monday morning.
Bruschi, an inside linebacker, played on all three Super Bowl-winning Patriots teams. The last championship game was on Feb. 6, 2005, against the Philadelphia Eagles. He played in his only Pro Bowl on Feb. 13.
Three days later, he was hospitalized after experiencing numbness in his left arm and left leg and blurry vision and was diagnosed with a mild stroke.
He recovered to play nine of the last 10 games that season, all starts, and was named The AP Comeback Player of the Year.
Bruschi’s play declined last season and he missed much of this year’s training camp for undisclosed reasons.
His impending retirement was first reported by NBC.
A third-round draft choice out of Arizona in 1996, Bruschi worked his way up from a part-time player and member of special teams units to full-time starter in 1999.
“I’ve had so many years (when) where you are in September is different than where you are in December,” Bruschi said last week. “So I’ve learned that ever since I was a third-down situational pass-rushing rookie that played on special teams all the way through my entire career, never assume what your role is going to be. Just be ready when your coach calls on you.”
Bruschi played sparingly in the Patriots’ three exhibition games. He sat out the first game then played against Cincinnati in the second.
“Obviously, he’s a very experienced player and knowing what to do and all of that isn’t a huge issue” after missing many training camp practices, coach Bill Belichick said after that game. “But timing and recognition and reaction times and all of that, that’s something that you can’t train for. You’ve got to be out there and experience it on the field with your teammates.”
Last season, the Patriots drafted Jerod Mayo at inside linebacker in the first round and he became the NFL defensive rookie of the year. Gary Guyton, a free agent rookie last season, also developed at that position.
This offseason, the Patriots obtained former Detroit Lions inside linebacker Paris Lenon as a free agent. New England lost its second most experienced linebacker last February when it traded outside linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Bruschi has played in 189 regular-season games, more than any linebacker in club history. His 631 total tackles over the past six seasons are the most on the team in that period.
For his career, he had 1,134 tackles, 30½ sacks and 12 interceptions, four of which he returned for touchdowns.
Early this summer, Bruschi said he wasn’t thinking what he would do after the coming season.
“After you get past 10 (NFL seasons), I think that’s the way you have to do it because you never know what’s going to happen within a year. You just don’t,” he said June 30 during a football clinic he ran for 67 youngsters at Gillette Stadium. “So when the season’s over, you sort of reassess things and that’s how it’s going to go again.”
He ran a highly organized program that day in which youngsters took part in various drills.
“I know I can coach,” he said then. “I know the game. I’ve been in it so long, it’s just going to be a matter of what I do when I’m done (playing). So I don’t know. It’s a passion of mine. I love football. I know I want to be in it. Let’s just see what I’ll be doing.”
Last season, his 75 tackles were his second fewest in six seasons, more than the 65 he had when he played nine games in 2005 after his stroke. He had no sacks for the first time in his 13 seasons. And he missed the last three games with a knee injury.
He almost certainly will be remembered most for his comeback from the stroke. He had surgery to repair a hole in his heart and, as he got better, kept working out and attending team meetings.
On Oct. 30 that year Bruschi started at inside linebacker at home and made 10 tackles in a 21-16 win over the Buffalo Bills.
“To not give it a shot was something that would have eaten me up five, 10 years down the road,” he said then. “So I was like, ‘Let’s just do it now and not wait because I’ve been cleared to do it.’”
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