Ex-Pa­tri­ots star Br­uschi suf­fers stroke

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Joe David­son

The last time I spoke to Tedy Br­uschi was just be­fore the Su­per Bowl.

He boomed of typ­i­cal good cheer, re­flec­tive, happy and at peace. We chat­ted over the phone, some 40 min­utes of dis­cus­sion of the stay­ing power of Tom Brady and the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots, and his ca­reer in gen­eral — from foot­ball phenom who also dab­bled in mu­sic at Ro­seville High School, his dec­o­rated 13-year ca­reer with the Pa­tri­ots and his joy of the gift of gab as an ESPN stu­dio an­a­lyst.

“I’ve had a great life, seen it all, over­come a lot, and feel so blessed,” Br­uschi said then.

The 46-year-old Br­uschi has an­other hur­dle in front of him, and he’ll clear this one, too.

He suf­fered a stroke Thurs­day, his sec­ond since 2005. The lat­est one was ex­plained by his fam­ily as a tran­sient is­chemic at­tack, lead­ing to his hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, with a theme of op­ti­mism from a fam­ily state­ment that read in part, “Tedy had a stroke, known as a TIE. He rec­og­nized his warn­ing signs im­me­di­ately: arm weak­ness, face droop­ing and speech dif­fi­cul­ties. Tedy is re­cov­er­ing well.”

Br­uschi is beloved in New Eng­land. A line­backer, he played in 189 reg­u­lar sea­son games with 22 post­sea­son con­tests in 13 sea­sons with the Pa­tri­ots, punc­tu­ated by five Su­per Bowl ap­pear­ances and three cham­pi­onships.

Fol­low­ing the 2004 sea­son, Br­uschi suf­fered a mild stroke. He missed the 2005 sea­son and vowed to come back, telling me in Jan­uary, “I had to come back on my terms, or I’d never re­ally get over it.”

He re­turned, hardly missing a beat, and earned NFL Come­back Player of the Year hon­ors. He re­tired fol­low­ing the 2008 sea­son.

Said Br­uschi in Jan­uary, “It was a hard thing to go through, scary, but it was great to re­turn, to play again.”

The Pa­tri­ots re­leased a state­ment, signed by club chair­man and CEO Robert Kraft, that read in part, “Since his full re­cov­ery from a stroke in 2005, Tedy Br­uschi has pro­vided in­spi­ra­tion to so many and pos­i­tively im­pacted the lives of oth­ers by shar­ing his story and ad­vo­cat­ing for early de­tec­tion of stroke symp­toms.

“On be­half of the en­tire Pa­tri­ots or­ga­ni­za­tion, we ex­tend our love, thoughts and prayers to Tedy and the Br­uschi fam­ily while we wish him god­speed in a com­plete re­cov­ery.”

Br­uschi’s foot­ball story al­most never got started.

His mother, Juanita, steered young Tedy to­ward church choir, the clar­inet and sax­o­phone.

“I wanted to play foot­ball but she wouldn’t buy me cleats,” Brushi re­called with a laugh in Jan­uary. “So I went to my first work­out in Avila tennis shoes and a T-shirt. She fi­nally let me play. I got some high-top Pony cleats and loved it.”

Br­uschi fell in love with the sport. He emerged as a ter­ror in the trenches at Ro­seville, im­pos­si­ble to block as a charg­ing de­fen­sive end or to deal with as a brutish think­ing-man’s guard on of­fense.

He turned games by block­ing kicks and punts, in­clud­ing in the play­offs in 1990. In 2000, we named Br­uschi The Sacramento Bee’s all-time great­est area high school foot­ball player.

Br­uschi said he cher­ished the honor, his Ro­seville days and how he teases his three sons of how “cool I looked with the long hair com­ing out of my hel­met. They can’t be­lieve it was me!”

Br­uschi al­ways kept his sax­o­phone nearby, but rarely played it once foot­ball and fam­ily started to con­sume his life. Boston’s Longy School of Mu­sic re­cruited Br­uschi dur­ing his NFL days to per­form live at Sym­phony Hall, performing Eu­bie Blake’s fa­mous “Fitzwa­ter” piece.

“Mu­sic,” Br­uschi said, “never left me.”


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