Tedy Bruschi, a fan-favorite linebacker who helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls, was elected to the team’s Hall of Fame.
Bruschi was voted in by fans in his first year of eligibility. He was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this month.
“It’s a great day for me,” Bruschi said. “My family is very excited. Mr. Kraft called me on the phone last night and gave me the news. He told me that he was very proud for me to be in the Patriots Hall of Fame. I am very proud to play for only one organization for my entire career.”
Bruschi played 13 seasons, all with in New England, where fans exaggerated his name – “Bruuuuuuuschi!!” – in recognition of a big play or when he was introduced.
“We knew when we drafted him in 1996 that ‘Bruschi’ was going to be a fan favorite in New England,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement released by the team. “But, he was so much more than that. During the most successful era in the history of the franchise, Tedy was the heart and soul of the defense and proved to be a champion, both on and off the field.”
Bruschi suffered a stroke in 2005, but returned to the NFL and played three more seasons before retiring in 2009. He appeared in 189 games, including five Super Bowls, and recorded 448 tackles, 30.5 sacks and had 12 interceptions.
“I never felt any different than the people who were cheering on the Patriots,” said Bruschi on his connections to the fans. “I always felt that New England Patriots fans did their work and got their work done and when they have free time, they like to cheer on their favorite teams. I feel like that’s who I am also. A good family man cheering on my local team. I think that’s why I related so much to them.”
Bruschi recalled his first thoughts when he found out he had been drafted by the Patriots in 1996.
“I wanted to do everything that I could to stay with the Patriots my entire career,” Bruschi said. “To be able to look back and say that I stayed with an organization and built something special with them is something I’m very proud of.”
Bruschi will be inducted to the Patriots Hall of Fame along with broadcaster Gil Santos at a ceremony Aug. 11 and he will also be honored at halftime of the Patriots’ home opener Sept. 12 vs. the Jets.