Why New England Will Always Love Tedy Bruschi

I've played many roles in my life.  Whether I'm thought of as a husband, friend, a co-worker, a banker, or an IT person, one thing is certain…my children will always see me mainly in the role of ‘father.’  People who I've helped and positively affected in my career or personal life will often stop to talk to me and may even try to tell my kids that I'm ‘a good person.’  They sometimes will try to explain to my kids how I managed to help them in their time of need.  My kids don’t understand.  They see me through the lens of ‘dad’, and that means the world to me.

It is for this reason, that I write this.  This is for Tedy Bruschi’s three boys, Tedy Jr., Rex, and Dante.  Someday, you boys will be forced to stand around while people crowd your dad.  Football will be over.  You'll stand there listening and many will smile at you and tell you that your dad is and was a great man.  It may be obvious to you why he's a great dad.  You also will know that he was a great football player.  It may, however, be mysterious to you why these people continue to think he's great man.  I'm hoping I can put that into words for you.

When we are born into this life, we all get a toolbox.  Everyone’s toolbox is different.  Some people get a load of every tool imaginable.  This will help them on the road of life.  In contrast, some people get an unfortunately light load of tools.  They'll have to work a little harder on that same road.  The tools, however, are just that…tools.  Instruments.  They're of little value if simply left unused in the box.  Your lot in life will be determined by what you do with them.

When people plot out the course of their life, most open their toolbox first.  They look at the tools and pick a good one.  They may see a strong hammer and say, “I think I can be a good carpenter.”  They'll take that hammer and develop it.  They'll use it to become the best carpenter they can be.  They'll be near the top of their field and they'll be above-average performers, the top 25 percent.

Some people look into their toolbox, take an assessment of the tools they have been given, and take their top few tools and combine them.  They make their best tools work together and achieve something special that puts them in the top 5 percent of people in their chosen field.  That's a rare feat and it is considered excellence.

There is one last unique group of people.  These people dream with their heart.  It's that dream that dictates their direction.  They don't look in the toolbox first.  They dream first.  Once they know their direction, they open the toolbox.  A very lucky few will find the right tools for the dream.  Most do not.  Most look at the tools and, sadly, the dream dies.  Some will attempt to pursue the dream and try to make it work, but they will ultimately realize that it wasn’t meant to be.  Sometimes however, one exceptional person comes along who looks in the box and says, “I will not be denied my dream.  I'll use every tool in this box and I'll use some of these tools to make better tools.  I will have the dream.”  That, boys, to all of us who have watched over the years, is what we saw in your dad.  It put him in the category of extraordinary.

He didn’t have the greatest tools for this particular dream.  Sometimes he didn’t have the tools at all.  He wouldn't let go of the dream.  He spent a lifetime hardening the existing tools, building new tools, and honing his craft with a tenacity that is rarely seen on or off a football field.  He started with our New England Patriots as many do, just hoping to make the team.  He slowly ascended from a great rookie Special Teams player to the height of success…captain and defensive lynchpin of a three-time Super Bowl Championship team and a member of the NFL All-Pro Team. 

But the story didn’t end there.

One day he woke up and looked in the toolbox of life and found some of his tools were gone, stolen by some fickle hand of fate.  It would've been completely acceptable to most of us that Number 54 threw in the towel thinking he had done enough.  He had given the dream everything he could and reached the top.  That's what most of us thought.  But that's not your dad.

He looked in that toolbox and said, one more time, “I will have the dream.  I will not be denied.”

That's why on a cold October night in 2005, hundreds of thousands of people, many of them grown men, watched with a tear in their eye as Tedy Bruschi took the field against the Buffalo Bills.  No matter what your chosen field of expertise or occupation, the sight of a man who refused to bend and give in, who pursued the dream, and who continued to achieve, was a thing of beauty we rarely get to see.  In that moment, your dad showed the rest of us not how to merely swim like a champion in the waters of life, but how to ride the waves.  Full tilt.  It means more than just football.

So, boys, that is why we will always cheer your dad.  That is why we'll always gather around him.  We want him to know that he means more than football to the rest of us, the ordinary people who watch on Sunday.  We gather hoping that maybe, just maybe, some of that gritty tenacity will rub off.  We hope that maybe we can all take one extra step in our everyday lives and try for extraordinary.  That's why we'll continue wearing our Bruschi jerseys on game day.  That's why, to all of us, number “54” will always signify more than whatever name may be sitting above it.

This isn’t a football story.  There aren’t a lot of statistics and facts.  This is a life story.  From all the fans of the New England Patriots, thanks Tedy for all the great years.  Thanks for the Super Bowls, thanks for the hits, the interceptions, the fun in the snow, and thanks, most of all, for the inspiration.  Your best years still await you and we will be watching.

Originally published in the Attleboro Sun Chronicle, September 2009