New England Patriots: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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Tedy Bruschi, New England Patriots
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player. 47. . LB. (1996-08). Tedy Bruschi. 25

  • 3x Super Bowl Champion (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX)
  • NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2005)
  • Pro Bowl (2004)
  • 2x Second-Team All-Pro (2003-04)
  • New England Patriots Hall of Fame

Tedy Bruschi was absolutely going to make this all-time list of Patriots greats. While he won’t ever gain Canton enshrinement, Bruschi is both a member of the College Football Hall of Fame after his stellar career at the University of Arizona, as well as the Patriots Hall of Fame after 13 great seasons in New England.

Bruschi was a two-time consensus All-American for the Arizona Wildcats in the then Pac-10 when the Patriots used a third-round pick on the defensive tackle stalwart in the 1996 NFL Draft. While he might have been one of the greatest players in Arizona football history, a position change was necessary if Bruschi wanted to stick at the professional level. Boy, did he ever.

Bruschi was only 6-feet, 250 pounds coming out of U of A. While that could technically work as a defensive end in today’s NFL, to the Patriots linebacking corps Bruschi went. After starting out on special teams as a rookie in 1996, Bruschi would work his way up the depth chart to starting linebacker and eventually team captain.

As he entered is prime as a professional, the Patriots would begin to win Super Bowls under head coach Bill Belichick with Tom Brady at quarterback. While Bruschi got his first taste of the Super Bowl in 1996, he would be a part of the first New England dynasty in the early 2000s. New England won three Super Bowls in four seasons, and Bruschi was in the middle of all of it.

Twice was Bruschi named Second-Team All-Pro. Those designations coincided with the Patriots’ Super Bowl victories over the Carolina Panthers and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

In 2004, Bruschi made his only career trip to the Pro Bowl. That year, he had 76 tackles, 46 assists, six pass breakups, 3.5 quarterback sacks, three interceptions for 70 yards and two touchdowns. After playing in the 2005 Pro Bowl, Bruschi nearly had it all taken away from him.

He suffered a mild stroke three days after the glorified exhibition in Hawaii. Not only was his football career in jeopardy, but so was his livelihood. Bruschi bounced back the following year in mid-October 2005 to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Simply put, Bruschi was the heart of that era of the Patriots defense. Belichick certainly appreciated that.

Bruschi played with New England through the 2008 NFL campaign. While he would play on the juggernaut 2007 team, Bruschi never won another Super Bowl. He hung up the spikes after the 2008 NFL season at the age of 35. Bruschi finished his Patriots Hall of Fame career with 675 tackles, 388 assists, 44 passes defended, 30.5 quarterback sacks and 12 interceptions.