Com-Patriots

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

There are no Freddie Mitchells in the New England Patriots locker room, no Terrell Owens or Randy Mosses, either.

From the moment any new player arrives, they are quickly indoctrinated into the cult of coach Bill Belichick and the veteran players who have bought into the philosophy.

It can make for a bland string of cliches and non-answers, but the all-for-one, one-for-all approach has the Patriots on the brink of a third Super Bowl win in four years this Sunday.

Among the several team leaders on the New England roster, none are more influential than linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who says to join the club, one has to live by its rules.

"I don't think anybody on this team really would," Bruschi said yesterday when asked what would happen if any Patriot made a comment that might fire up an opponent as Philadelphia Eagles receiver Mitchell did this past weekend.

"On day one when you enter our locker room, if you are a new guy, a draft pick or a free agent, you see the collective attitude of who we are.

"If you don't catch on, we sort of try to let you know how it is. We set the tone of how it is going to be."

Bruschi is certainly one of those players that sets the tone both on and off the field.

GETS THEM GOING

His manic play at linebacker, in which he roams the field in pursuit of his next victim, fires up his teammates and fans.

Bruschi, like several Patriots, could make more money elsewhere, but has remained in New England because of the success and comaraderie he has experienced there.

"It's important to me," said Bruschi, who was a third-round draft pick of the Patriots in 1996. "You have your family, you have your mother, you have your wife and sons. But I have my football brothers. You have to realize that during the season, you spend more time in the locker room than you do at home sometimes.

"I have a special bond with those guys that I have really had fun developing."

The Patriots have been particularly successful in signing and drafting players that share at least a variation of Bruschi's outlook. There are currently 19 free agents on the roster and to a man, they are assimilated into the system.

"It's work ethic, commitment to football, some of the skills you can see when a player is in a certain system," Belichick said of the type of player he recruits. "All that is put into the pot and you make a decision."

And if a potential Patriot passes that test, Bruschi and Co. are waiting to see to it that they fit in.


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