Fans Vote Bruschi Into Patriots Hall of Fame
Former linebacker Tedy Bruschi has been elected to the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, the team announced Tuesday morning. The fans voted him in over former head coach Chuck Fairbanks (1973-1978) and offensive tackle Leon Gray (1973-1978). He joins Drew Bledsoe (2011) and Troy Brown (2012) as the only players elected into the team’s hall-of-fame from the dynasty years.
In 1991, the Patriots created their own Hall of Fame after John Hannah became the first Patriots player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While the team honor has existed since 1991, the Patriots Hall of Fame didn't find a permanent home until the Kraft family built The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon in 2008. Now, enshrinement into The Hall is an honor befitting of the franchise's greatest players, with 30-foot video pylons displaying each enshrinee. Beginning in 2007, fans became part of the hall of fame tradition and participants in the selection process.
Bruschi was drafted by the team in 1996 with the 86th overall pick in the third round. From Arizona, Bruschi was a defensive end in college but switched to linebacker after being deemed undersized. Bruschi played 13 seasons in the NFL, all with the Patriots. He was a two team all-pro selection in 2003 and 2004, a one time pro-bowler in 2004, and a three time Super Bowl champion.
In 2005, a few weeks after the franchise’s third Superbowl win, Bruschi suffered a minor stroke, one doctors said would end his career. After missing the first two months of the season, Bruschi returned to the field and won the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
He also received the Ed Block Courage Award in 2000 and 2005, rewarded to those who show leadership, courage, sportsmanship, inspiration, and serve as a role model.
Bruschi is also on the Patriots All-2000s Team as one of the starting inside linebackers and the Patriots 50th Anniversary Team as the defensive captain. For his career, Bruschi had 1065 tackles, 18 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, 12 interceptions, 30.5 sacks, 59 pass deflections, and five defensive touchdowns. He also holds the distinction as the only player in NFL history to return four consecutive interceptions for touchdowns between 2002 and 2003.
While Rodney Harrison and Willie McGinnest were also eligible for the Patriots Hall of Fame for the first time this year, Tedy Bruschi was the most deserving of the bunch. Always a fan-favorite, he was a life-time Patriot who always brought a blue-collar mentality to the team. He wasn’t flashy, but he was reliable and a leader. In 2009, head coach Bill Belichick shared his thoughts on Bruschi.
"I’ve had the privilege of coaching a lot of great players and leaders in the National Football League, and I’ll just put Tedy up there with all of them and above all of them,” Belichick said. “There’s no player that I think epitomizes more of what I believe a player should be on the field, off the field, really, in every situation."