To Sit One Out
By Patriots Insider Staff
FOXBOROUGH In a release by the organization, Patriots star linebacker Tedy Bruschi informed the football world that he has decided to take a year off from the rigors of the sport to continue his recovery. Bruschi is rehabbing his body from the effects of a mild stroke he suffered in February. He also underwent heart surgery to repair a minor defect, which was thought to be a contributing factor to his condition.
The text of the release from Patriots Media relations:
"Since suffering a mild stroke on February 16, 2005, Tedy Bruschi has focused on the short-term goal of getting better every day. His health has improved steadily during the past five months and Tedy continues to make daily improvements with his on-going rehabilitation. It has been an offseason of many emotional highs and lows for Tedy and his family. With the Patriots' training camp reporting date now just over a week away, Tedy has reached a decision on his playing status for the upcoming season and has declared his intentions to forgo the 2005 campaign. The Bruschi family wanted to express their heartfelt appreciation for the tremendous outpouring of support they have received from fans throughout New England and others around the country. They also expressed their gratitude for the support and assistance provided by the entire Patriots organization. Tedy pledges to focus on his health and his family while continuing to offer on-going support to his teammates throughout the upcoming season."
In the release, the team provided a statement by head coach Bill Belichick on Bruschi.
"All offseason, we have seen and felt Tedy's strong and upbeat presence. As usual, we will keep the focus on the short term and address the future in due course. We are pleased Tedy continues to be part of the team and he has our complete support."
While this means, Bruschi will not be returning to the field in 2005, it does not mean his playing days have ended. The announcement allows the team to place him on a list reserving the linebacker's contract rights, while allowing him to return the following season.
According to NFLPA documents, Bruschi was scheduled to earn $850,000 in base salary for the 2005 season, with another $1.35 million and $1.70 million in the final two seasons. Depending upon how the team handles Bruschi's status, he could forfeit a significant portion of that money.
In this case, it's expected that the team will make extraordinary accommodations to keep Bruschi around. His contributions on and off the field have clearly benefited the team more than his modest salary.
Whether Bruschi returns to the team complex as a player-coach, an observer, or in some other role, he has already left an impression on his new fellow replacements. Both Chad Brown and Monty Beisel were signed in the offseason as perspective replacements for Bruschi in the event of this outcome. Bruschi has been spending time with his new teammates giving them tips, helping them to learn the Patriot system.
In spite of not having one linebacker in particular who will be able to completely replace Bruschi and his leadership on the field, the team is in good hands until he returns.
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