Monday, October 31, 2005
It would be an inspirational story even if I didn't love football.
In February, Pro-Bowl linebacker and three-time SuperBowl champion Tedy Bruschi suffered a stroke shortly after returning to Boston from Hawaii. He couldn't see. His left side was numb and he had trouble walking. He was 32.
Fast forward 8 months. Fully recovered, Tedy Bruschi returned to pro football in front of a sellout crowd, all sporting signs of support. He could have played a down or two, then rested his body and mind. No one would have blamed him. The one overriding aspect of his period on the "Physically Unable to Perform" list was complete and total support by everyone. His bosses, his teammates, his family, his fans. No one wanted a guy like Tedy to suffer, no matter what it did to Our Team.
See, Tedy is one of the good guys. Not just a good football player, but a great one. Not just a good leader, but the kind of guy who demonstrates by example, builds you up when you need it, and lets you know when you screwed up in a way that doesn't tear you down. He has supreme confidence in his ability and his teammates, and that infuses them with confidence in themselves. He's the kind of guy who celebrates a great play not with some show-offy little skit or chest-thumping look-at-me move, but with a shit-eating grin and a hug for whoever's closest to him. You can't be a football fan and not love Tedy Bruschi.
So, despite all the articles leading up to last night's game cautioning that he can't fix everything that ails the New England Patriots, ESPN went to every break with "A Hero Can Save Us" over a vignette of his tackles. And despite the fact that he just started practicing with the team two weeks ago, he played the entire game, not just on defense (which was on the field 40 of 60 minutes of playing time) but on special teams. He logged 7 tackles--some guys don't do that even when they've been playing solid football for eight weeks.
He didn't fix the team. He's an inside linebacker. He can't give the secondary more experience and strength, help the rookie offensive linemen make their blocks, or shore up the running game. But he is the heart and soul of the defense, as is oft-repeated, and he provided just enough spark, just enough passion, to make the rest of the team stop figuratively wandering in confusion and do their jobs. Despite Buffalo's dominance of the clock, the yardage, and the field, the Patriots still came away winners the way they used to--by doing what had to be done, just in time.
We love you, Tedy.
at 6:38 AM