Tedy Bruschi wouldn’t have become a New England Patriots Hall of Famer without Dante Scarnecchia’s help.
The former Patriots linebacker revealed Tuesday via Instagram how the team’s retiring offensive line coach dramatically impacted his playing career. Bruschi in 1996 was a third-round draft pick trying to improve his skills and earn a larger role on the Patriots, but his prospects for doing so appeared bleak … until Scarnecchia imparted one fateful bit of wisdom.
“Dante Scarnecchia is retiring,” Bruschi wrote. “Storytime — 1996 — Scar was the assistant LB coach. I didn’t play much LB that year. Mainly special teams. One day in practice Larry Whigham ran my a– over! I was the wing on the punt team and Whig was a rusher. He crushed me. I couldn’t figure out how to protect. Scar pulled me aside in the training room and used two rolls of athletic tape to show me how to protect from the inside out then deliver a blow. ‘This is the rusher, this is you.’
“It was so simple, yet I didn’t truly get it until Scar showed me on that training table with those two rolls of tape. From that point on things started to click. Football can be a simple game sometimes. The best coaches know how to teach it that way. Thanks, Scar!”
Scarnecchia’s coaching helped turn Bruschi from a potential bust into a valuable special-teams contributor on a New England squad that reached the Super Bowl his rookie year. Bruschi became a regular starter two seasons later, and the rest is, well, history: He was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2013, having spent 13 seasons in New England and helped the team win three Super Bowls.
Scarnecchia, 71, announced his retirement Tuesday after 36 years in the NFL, 34 of which he spent in New England.
He received tributes from Patriots past like Bruschi, present like Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick and his impact on the team almost certainly will extend into the future. After all, it’s only a matter of time before a young player emerges into a key contributor thanks to Scarnecchia helping things start to “click.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images