Longtime Patriots equipment manager Don Brocher died early Tuesday morning after a six-month battle with leukemia.
Bill Belichick opened his press conference Wednesday by sharing his thoughts on the passing of Brocher, who was the franchise's longest-tenured employee (hired in 1972):
"First of all, I’d just say that as a football team, organization, we’re saddened by the loss of Donny this weekend," said the coach. "In a game where – we all saw what changes were made on Monday throughout the league – for somebody to be here for 40 years, doing the job that he did for so many owners, coaches, general managers, you name it, players, is really a tribute to his dedication, consistency, dependability, and the quality of the work that he did.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Laurie and his family. He’s a guy that six months ago when [former assistant equipment manager] John Hillebrand went to Jacksonville, [Brocher] sat in my office and he talked about how good he was feeling, how much he was looking forward to a few more years on the job and doing some other things that he was looking forward to. Six months later, we are where we are today.
"Don was here for the San Francisco game. I don’t think anybody really had a sense of the physical and mental toughness that he displayed that night just by being here and doing his job and being here for us in that type of situation. But that was kind of Donny. He was never one to complain, never one to talk about how he was doing, he was just there to help the rest of us. We’ll miss him."
Brocher did not make the trip with the Patriots to Tampa Bay for a preseason game in August; it was the first game he had missed in 40 years, snapping a streak of 834 consecutive games he worked.