That was roughly 10 months ago.
If you played as a kid, you probably remember that first year without football. Summer comes around, and two-a-days keep inching closer, and the anticipation’s building … And then, nothing. If you played through high school or college, it was weird going into that first fall without football. So imagine what it’s like now for Bruschi, after a 13-year pro career.
“I’m still not one total year out, so I still have the feeling now like the countdown is on,” Bruschi said. “Because after minicamps, you go to your last little break and you want to enjoy it and have a little vacation yourself and all your family does. But you still realize you’ve got to stay in shape and work out and run the conditioning test.
“But wait, I want to go to the Cape and have fried clams, that’s what I would do. That’s what I would do. … I still have the same feeling when I look at my watch and I look at the date and it says, whatever today is the 24th or whatever, I’ve got a month left. I’ve got 30 days left. I still have that feeling, but it doesn’t apply to me anymore.”
So the natural follow-up: Do you still have the itch to play?
“I guess I’m describing the itch,” Bruschi continued. “I guess I still am describing the itch that is ingrained in my persona. Last year, around the Colts game. Last year during the playoffs is when I felt it the most, about, ‘I should still be out there.’ Changed my mind a little bit after seeing Ray Rice go 83. But it’s still there, it’s going to take a little while for it to go away.”
One thing that’s helped Bruschi is that he hasn’t had to totally unplug himself from football, since he’s now working as an NFL analyst at ESPN.
Here’s an interesting anecdote I can give you on that …
Early week in the week during the football season, every week, Bruschi receives a FedEx package from Bristol. In it is a set of DVDs, with every game from that particular week boiled down, with all the commercials and all that cut out.
Bruschi watches every one of them every week. So when he goes on television and talks about all the teams, he’s watched every one of their snaps. That’s a pretty impressive level of commitment to his new job, and shows part of the reason why he’s adapted so quickly to that line of work. He prepares for this profession the same way he prepare for his old one.
Bruschi thought it’d be tough to walk away, so it’s nice for him to have that outlet, as well as a strong family life, to ease the transition.
“I didn’t think I’d do so well with it, to tell you the truth,” he said. “Maybe the analyst thing has helped me because I still watch games with purpose and look at different ways that I can sort of communicate the things that I see to maybe some people that may not see the things that I see.
“But what’s helped me is the strong relationship I’ve had with my wife at home. We’ve gone through a lot in my 13-year career that it was almost a relief when I finally decided to call it quits so we could move on with our lives.”