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Bruschi won't bite if baited with Tuna

FOXBOROUGH -- There's no story line chasing Tedy Bruschi. He's in a story-free zone in this week of the Bill Bowl, Parcells vs. Belichick.

Oh sure, Bill Parcells drafted Bruschi for the Patriots as a defensive end out of Arizona in 1996, and he and Al Groh had the foresight to use Bruschi until he proved himself as an every-down NFL linebacker, similar to the way Bill Belichick is using Dan Klecko now.

If there's a story line, that's it. Pretty weak.

But there's nothing hanging over Bruschi's head. There's no payback of Parcells driving him. He did not leave his old coach, nor did the old coach leave him, on bad terms. He played hard for Parcells, just as he played hard for Pete Carroll and Belichick. The coaches have come and gone, but Bruschi has remained the same, which is why all of the coaches he's played for have loved coaching him.

At this stage of his career, Bruschi has given a dollar and a half in effort for every dollar they pay him. Consistent as a rock. Heart and soul. All of that stuff applies.

He carries no baggage, unlike, say, former teammate Terry Glenn, who wants to beat Belichick, the coach he thought mistreated him.

It's nothing like the Richie Anderson story. This past offseason, the pass-catching fullback had reached a verbal agreement with the Patriots when Parcells called him in Foxborough to remind him of what Parcells had done for his career.

Parcells asked Anderson, whom he had coached with the Jets, to visit Dallas before committing to the Patriots. Anderson did, and he never came back.

Now he'll be playing for the Cowboys against the Patriots, whose management was so upset with Anderson's agent, Tony Agnone, that when another Agnone client, Bill Conaty, was on the market, the Patriots dealt directly with the player rather than the agent.

Nothing like this uncomfortable story line involving Scott Pioli, the Patriots vice president of player personnel. He's loyal to Belichick, of course, but the guy on the other sideline is his father-in-law.

Nothing like the story line of how Patriots owner Robert Kraft stripped Parcells of his personnel powers, something he later regretted in the Bobby Grier-Carroll era.

Nothing like the story line of how both coaches left their teams (the Patriots and Jets) in the lurch to seek employment elsewhere.

Nothing like the story line of how Bobby Hamilton was buried on the Jets' roster when Parcells and Groh were in charge and was one of the first players Belichick brought with him to New England. Belichick disagreed with Parcells on Hamilton's playing time in New York.

Bruschi can say he played for Parcells, even went to a Super Bowl in his rookie season under him. But don't expect Bruschi to get involved in any of the hype surrounding the Bill Bowl.

Asked if there were any impressions left on him by Parcells, or any lessons learned from him, Bruschi said, "That was a long time ago. Then I would say no."

This is why Bruschi is a "coach's player" -- because he does not bite on media story lines, feeding instead on the vital propaganda his coach at the time hands him.

But he is not blind to the Cowboys, who at 7-2 are tied for the best record in the NFC.

"It's a challenge, not just because it's a Parcells team but because it's the next team," said Bruschi. "It's not who's coaching or who's playing, it's not about what happened in the past. It's about who's next. Right now it's the Dallas Cowboys who are next. I don't see who's coaching them, but I see who's going to be playing for them, and that's what we have to worry about."

He will say about Parcells, "He's done a good job. You win seven football games, I'm going to respect you, no matter who you've played or how you've played. The bottom line is they've won seven games and they're one of the better teams in the league. How many teams have seven victories in the league? Not many."

More probing about Parcells reinforces that Bruschi wants no part of it. Was he surprised to see Parcells get back into coaching?

After a long pause, Bruschi said, "No. And I wouldn't have been surprised if he stayed out. It really wouldn't have mattered to me. It's not like I'm keeping tabs on him or anything. Whatever he does, he does."

Bruschi's responses are precisely the kind both Bills would love to hear. Be kind. Be respectful. But don't go overboard. Don't dwell on coaches, because the players play the game.

And don't forget what's at stake.

"We're in position right now," said Bruschi. "It's what we do with it. It's what we do with it today and tomorrow and all the way up to Sunday. We have to realize where we are and that it's all about the Dallas Cowboys. November, December, that's when things begin to solidify themselves, and can we keep winning football games? Because that's when it counts."

And on this November Sunday, that's all that will matter to Bruschi. Not the story lines.

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