When Tedy Bruschi had a stroke in late 2005 and was later diagnosed with a hole in his heart, I was sick. Physically and mentally sick. In an odd way, I share a sort of brotherhood with Tedy. My younger daughter, now 16, was born with congenital heart disease, specifically an aortic coarctation and bicuspid aortic stenosis. After a dozen or so angioplasties, about eight of which were balloon dilations to repair her issues, she ended up having two open heart surgeries, the second to replace her aortic valve with a mechanical one. When her room is quiet and she's sleeping, you can hear the soft "tick tick" of the plastic valve doing its job.
She had every right to act sickly, like someone who needs to be coddled and fawned over. Not her, not for one minute. Instead of letting her illness define her, she used it to make her stronger, only wanting to be like "the normal kids". Well, she's not like them. She's surpassed them. A varsity cheerleader, avid dancer, co-captain of her dance team, and assistant teacher at her dance studio, she's never let this illness stop her from reaching higher, from stretching as far as she possibly can.
In this way, through my daughter's trials, I feel I have a kinship to Tedy Bruschi. He could've hung up his helmet after his surgery. He could've called it quits and no one would've thought him the lesser man. After all, the guy had a stroke and surgery to repair a hole in his heart. Why, on earth, would he want to continue playing professional football?
With people like Tedy, there is a motor and that motor is endlessly in motion. They have to keep moving, possibly driven by fear of wasting away. Just as a shark moves water through its gills by swimming for their entire existance, individuals like Tedy must be in constant motion. It's in their nature and it's in their blood. Move and they live. Stop and they die. It's as simple as that.
His entire career, he's fought the "too small" or "to slow" critics. Time and time again, he's redefined himself throughout his career. His first two years as a special teams player and pass rush specialist, he seized an opportunity to play linebacker in his third season and has owned that role ever since. Never the individual star, those with only a penchant for stats will dismiss him as average. And I will dismiss them as pitiful. Tedy was the epitome of a team player, a coach's player. Never stopping, never satisfied. An endless motor.
The Patriots defense for the first half of this decade was defined by guys like Bruschi, Vrabel, and Harrison. The torch is passed. It's firmly in the hands of guys like Jerod Mayo, Patrick Chung, and Darius Butler. It's up to them to put lighting back in a bottle. The Celtics did.
Who knows what's next for Tedy Bruschi. Maybe he'll take some time off. Maybe he'll rest for a while. Or maybe that endless motor won't let him stop. He just might trade his helmet for a headset. Wouldn't that be cool...