Patriots Speak Highly of Retired Bruschi

Patriots Speak Highly of Retired Bruschi Getting football players to make radio appearances during a long and grueling preseason can often be a chore. On Monday afternoon, however, the Patriots had to stop them at the doors.

The reason is because teammates of Tedy Bruschi were eager to go on the record and praise the linebacker, who formally announced his retirement at a news conference earlier in the day.

"We had to stop Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren from going in to the studio so Tedy could go," the Patriots wrote on the team's official Twitter page.

So as Bruschi and his wife, Heidi, chatted on The Dale and Holley Show on WEEI, reporters headed to the locker room to give players a chance to speak about their now former teammate.

"Whenever we needed a play, that was one of the guys that he had the caliber that he could go out and pull one off for us," Wilfork said to the media. "All that stuff is going to be missed, so now we're going to have to pick up the slack. Like I said, he passed the torch to us, so we have to run with it.

"He's in high spirits and nothing but big-time respect for him as a person and as one of his teammates, he'll really be missed around here," Wilfork later added.

Bruschi also received praise from Bill Belichick, who was part of the coaching staff in Bruschi's rookie season in 1996.

“He always did the right thing," Belichick said at the news conference. "I’ve had the privilege of coaching a lot of great players and leaders in the NFL. I’ll just put Tedy up with there all of them. Above all of them.”

The praise extended from the sidelines to the owner's box, with Robert Kraft speaking glowingly of the 36-year-old.

“The heart and soul of the defense during the most successful era in the history of the franchise, Tedy also served as an example to every new Patriot of what it takes to be a champion on and off the field," Kraft said in a statement released by the team. "Tedy’s tenacity as a player made him a fan favorite long before he helped bring three Super Bowl championships to New England.

"His remarkable and courageous return to the field following a stroke only added to his legend as one of the most significant and memorable athletes in the history of New England sports," Kraft added. "We are blessed in so many ways to have had Tedy Bruschi as a career Patriot.”

Bruschi's heir apparent at the middle linebacker position, second-year player Jerod Mayo, said Bruschi was instrumental in his development last season — a year in which he was awarded Defensive Rookie of the Year.

"He's a great guy," Mayo told the media. "He kind of took me under his wing when I first came here. He told me that one day he would pass the torch on to me and the rest of the team and I guess today is that day."

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