Of all the great players over the years, Tedy Bruschi just might be my absolute favorite.
There’s just something about the guy that is overlooked by the recruiting services and then by the NFL that is appealing. It’s the classic underdog story.
Bruschi grew up in Roseville, California and was of Italian and Filipino heritage.
His grandparents actually were from Italy and moved to the San Francisco area.
Bruschi, of course, was a bit undersized for a Defensive Lineman but he played Tackle in high school. He was about 6-1, but nowhere near his maximum weight of 247 when he was playing in the NFL.
Naturally, he was lightly recruited, but he wound up at Arizona with head coach Dick Tomey.
Bruschi, along with Defensive Tackle Rob Waldrop formed the nucleus of one of college football’s all time great defenses, the Desert Swarm. They just engulfed offenses with bodies and completely shut them down.
Waldrop was another undersized guy and another hero of mine. He was much like the Washington Huskies’ Steve Emtman of the same time period. They were unblockable. Waldrop was only 6-1, 275 on his finest day, but his strength and quickness allowed him to dominate the line of scrimmage and he was a consensus All American for two straight seasons in 1992 and 1993.
Linebacker Sean Harris was also a standout and so was Defensive Back Tony Bouie.
But, football is still won and lost on the line of scrimmage and with Bruschi and Waldrop dominating up front the Wildcats were a fun team to watch.
Bruschi tied the college football career sack record with 52, but there’s no telling how much pressure he got on the Quarterbacks he faced. He was just a terror.
Waldrop was the consensus All American in 1992 and 1993 while Bruschi was the same in 1994 and 1995.
The pro scouts didn’t care much for Bruschi because he lacked size and they perceived him as being an average athlete.
At the NFL Combine, Bruschi did 42 inches on his vertical jump and he ran a 4.68 40 yard dash. Both of those were excellent for a Defensive End or a Linebacker
The New England Patriots drafted Tedy Bruschi with their 3rd round selection in the 1996 NFL Draft.
He was too small to play the same position that the Wildcats used him during his tremendous college playing days, but the Patriots moved him to an Inside Linebacker.
Love him or hate him, but there’s nobody like Bill Belichick to bring out the best in a player.
Bruschi was a standout player in New England on a team full of standout players. But, what really set Tedy Bruschi apart from even the greatest of the greats happened in 2005.
In 2005, Bruschi played in the Pro Bowl. A few days later, he was hospitalized with blurred vision, numbness and severe headaches. It turned out that Bruschi had suffered a stroke.
He rehabbed and announced he would sit out the 2005 football season.
Yeah, right. That lasted all the way into October and then Bruschi was back on the playing field for the Patriots.
Tedy Bruschi played 3 more seasons in the NFL after his stroke and he retired before the 2009 season.
After retirement, Bruschi became a spokesman for the American Heart Association and he went to work for ESPN as an analyst.
I don’t often pay attention to the talking heads on ESPN, but when Tedy Bruschi’s head begins to talk I am all ears.
This is a guy that is all heart and gives everything he has in everything that he does.
Forget about what some New England Patriot haters will tell you, Bruschi was a beast at every level of football. But, I’m not that much of an NFL fan and obviously prefer the college game. Tedy Bruschi and his teammates at Arizona during the Desert Swarm years put on a show and Bruschi, for my money, was one of the more intense college football players of all time.
He was fun to watch.
Tedy Bruschi probably won’t read this. But, if he does, thanks for the show.