Stroke survivor thrives

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 3:00 PM ET

PHOENIX -- When you remember dynasties in sport, as time fades, so do the number of names which live on.

When it comes to the NFL, there were the Green Bay Packers of the '60s. Bart Starr. Paul Hornung. Ray Nitschke. Forrest Gregg. Jerry Kramer ...

There were the Pittsburgh Steelers of the '70s. Terry Bradshaw. Franco Harris. Lynn Swann. Mean Joe Greene ...

There were the San Francisco 49ers of the '80s. Joe Montana. Jerry Rice. Roger Craig. Dwight Clark ...

And there were the Dallas Cowboys of the '90s. Troy Aikman. Emmitt Smith. Michael Irvin ...

At this Super Bowl, the coronation of another all-time team is expected with a fourth Super Bowl title, topped by an undefeated season.

The New England Patriots. Tom Brady. Tedy Bruschi ...

TIMELESS PLAYER

In the media day zoo here Tuesday, I managed to get in the question to Bruschi about going into a Super Bowl knowing he could come out as arguably the first player after quarterback Brady to be remembered for years and years when other names fade.

"I'd see that, first of all, as a tremendous honour. I'd have tremendous pride in that," he said.

"I have tremendous pride having been able to be viewed as having a big part of it, but also in having been a New England Patriot for my entire career. I was determined, at the start of my career, no matter what success we had, to play for just one team. I made every effort to stay on this team for my entire career."

You'd think with the name he's made in the game, and the fact he's coming back from a stroke to make it to another Super Bowl, they'd spell his name right on the podium where he spoke at that session.

"I have a tough name to spell," said the linebacker who should have changed it to read like it's pronounced - Teddy Brewski.

"It could also be an ASU prank," he laughed.

Bruschi played for Arizona, the rival of Arizona State which is located here in Tempe. Contemplating practicing at the Arizona State facility when the Patriots arrived here Sunday, he said "I may have to shower twice."

Bruschi says the idea of becoming arguably the ultimate of all dynasties Sunday is hard to ignore.

"I think it's the biggest game of my life - of all of our lives," he said.

And, maybe more than any other Patriot, this game could be considered more special for Bruschi.

"Absolutely," he said. "There are so many layers of this game being special for me in terms of what I went through. It started with my stroke in 2005.

It's what we've done this season, what we can complete if we go out and win this game and it being in Arizona."

Overcoming the stroke transcends football.

"I don't think it's ever been done before. I really wanted to make myself a championship linebacker again.

"Through the playoffs the last three years and finally getting back here now, I think I can finally say I'm all the way back.

"I hold every Super Bowl with a special place in my heart," he continued.

"But to help this team to get back to this point is sort of a victory for me in itself. I've been working with the American Stroke Association a lot and I know this is a victory for all stroke survivors.

"I realize the whole grasp of things I've been able to accomplish. People have told me about being an inspiration to them. I respect that and I am humbled by it.

"It's something I'm proud to call myself - a stroke survivor."

PURE INSPIRATION

He's an inspiration to his teammates, too.

When the Patriots names are remembered, maybe the one behind Brady and Bruschi will be Mike Vrabel.

"Every day I come to work with Tedy, I'm inspired," he said. "What he has meant to this franchise over 12 years ...

"It's his demeanour and the way he carries himself.

"Everybody says he represents the Patriots. When you point to the guy on our helmet, that's Tedy."


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