It was announced on Tuesday that Tedy Bruschi would join a star-studded cast of legendary football players as a member of the College Hall of Fame’s 2013 class.
Bruschi was a standout defensive tackle at the University of Arizona in the 1990’s. He was converted to middle linebacker when the Patriots drafted him in 1996. It was in New England where Bruschi would go on to become one of the most recognizable faces in football and a Boston sports legend.
Bruschi was the anchor of a New England defense, who along with Tom Brady, led the Patriots to three Super Bowl wins in a period of four years in the early 2000’s. To this day, the image of him intercepting a pass against Miami and taking it to the end zone while fans toss snow in the air is one of the most memorable in league history — especially for New England Patriots fans.
Having entered college football’s sacred shrine, the next question is whether or not Bruschi deserves to one day be in Canton. I say yes.
The Super Bowl-era of the NFL is marked by great franchises. The Packers, Steelers, 49ers, Cowboys and Patriots all owned entire decades of football with their consistent success. Each of those teams, with the exception of the 21st century New England Patriots, is well represented in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
When football fans in the future look back on those Patriot teams, they will no doubt know about Tom Brady. But what a shame it would be if Brady were the only one from those teams elected to the Hall. I would argue that Bruschi was the second most recognizable and famous Patriot player for over a decade.
It would make sense that after Brady, guys like Adam Vinatieri, Ty Law and Bruschi all get inducted into the shrine. Just as Jack Lambert, Ray Nitschke and Charles Haley defined the defenses on their own respective dynasties, Bruschi defined New England.
During Bruschi’s 13 year career, he was a full time starter during 10 of those years, not counting the partial season he played as a result of suffering a stroke due to a hole in his heart. During those ten seasons, Bruschi average over 95 tackles and one interception per season. It was Bruschi’s hustle, however, that made him a fan favorite. Anytime the team needed a turnover, it seemed like, especially in the postseason, he was there for a timely strip, fumble recovery or interception.
Bruschi will be eligible to be enshrined in Canton after this coming season. I’m not saying he’s a first ballot lock, but the voters should not allow too much time to pass before putting one of the eligible players from the Patriot dynasty into the Hall. They might as well start with Tedy Bruschi.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON MAY 7, 2013