Former linebacker Tedy Bruschi will serve as an honorary Patriots captain in Sunday's AFC Championship game, joining Troy Brown and Ty Law. The Patriots will have four players from the 1996 team that lost in the Super Bowl as honorary captains against the Ravens.
Bruschi was on a conference call this afternoon discussing his memories of the 1996 and 2001 teams, as well as the current Patriots.
"I think it means I'm getting older," Bruschi chuckled when asked what being selected as an honorary captain means to him. "1996 was a long time ago, but it's great for me to be able to go back. I only played for one team my entire career, and I'm very proud to say that it was the New England Patriots. To be named honorary captain in their biggest game of the season, I'm flattered."
Asked about the contrast with the Patriots now - that the team that was once know for having a strong defense now boasts one of the premier offenses in the league - Bruschi pointed to Tom Brady.
"From the 2001 team to now, you've seen that offense evolve, you've seen that team evolve to where early on, defense and special teams were carrying a quarterback that was developing, and now it's the other way around: the quarterback is fully developed, and he is who he has become, one of the best that many have ever seen. Offensively, I think that every player in that huddle looks to Tom and the words that come out of his mouth, they believe it will work, no matter what he says, no matter what play he calls, and I think they all know that if you get open, you'll get the ball."
On his memories of the Tuck Rule game:
"Sometimes it's amazing what you can take from how a game goes and turn it into something special, not just one championship but a run that still hasn't ended. That game was the beginning," he said. "I remember after that play waiting in the snow for Walt Coleman to come out and give us his ruling talking to (Raiders receiver) Tim Brown on the field...I was talking to Tim Brown and I said, 'Tim, I think that's the tuck rule.' And we had a little discussion about that and I brought up the moment, I think it was earlier that season, with (Rams' quarterback) Kurt Warner we might have lost a strip sack/fumble [by the tuck rule].
"That's one of the games that will never be forgotten and every time an anniversary like this comes around you'll talk about it, but the one overwhelming thought I had during those kicks, I think people forget about, is we had (quarterbacks coach) Dick Rehbein pass away early in that season and I thought about him a bunch that game, that maybe someone upstairs was looking out for us."
Does he feel that way this year in light of Myra Kraft's passing in July?
"Definitely I do. I was watching the Giants game with my wife and sons at home, and as the Giants are winning the game (against Green Bay) and you know what the potential is there, I looked at my wife and said, 'I don't know if I can deal with this for two weeks, reliving '07, having to talk about it here at ESPN' but the more I thought about it, I said, 'that's the way I think it should be.' I think that's the way Myra would have wanted it.
"I thought about Mrs. Kraft a bunch this year, she was so special to me, and that's my prediction this week: that it will be a Patriots-New York Giants rematch in the Super Bowl."
Bruschi played his entire career with the Patriots, and was a rookie on the '96 team that lost to the Packers in Super Bowl XXXI. He won Super Bowl titles with the Patriots in 2001, 2003, and 2004.
The fourth honorary captain will be announced tomorrow.