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Bruschi: Go for 16-0!

12/16/2009

One of the top storylines entering the final weeks of the NFL season is whether the 13-0 Indianapolis Colts and 13-0 New Orleans Saints should go for an undefeated regular season or rest their players entering the playoffs.

As a part of the 2007 New England Patriots team that went 16-0 in the regular season, I have strong feelings on the topic.

They should go for it.

The motivation is simple: to be the best ever. When you're that close to it -- at 12-0, 13-0 -- and if you're fortunate enough to venture to 14-0, 15-0, there is no way you stop. You should want to achieve something that has never been achieved before.

Think about it this way: Let's say you're 14-0 and your team decides to rest players and use the backups, and you lose one of your remaining regular-season games and then go on to win the Super Bowl. For the rest of your life, you'd wonder: If we had played out the season, could we have gone 19-0?

I don't understand why it's even a debate. The No. 1 seed is rewarded with a bye week. That's when you get your rest. Yes, injury is possible. But who says you won't get injured in the divisional round or the conference championship?

On our way to winning Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina, I pulled a calf muscle in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts. Fortunately it wasn't too serious and we had the bye week before the Super Bowl so it could heal up. Still, I wasn't 100 percent going into the Carolina game. My point is that an injury can happen at any point in any game. You can't predict when or where it is going to happen.

Going back to 2007, if Bill Belichick had come to me and said, 'You know something, Tedy, we're going to rest you -- we're 14-0, and we already have the No. 1 seed wrapped up,' I would have jumped down his throat. That is the type of mentality we had in the locker room. We embraced the opportunity to make history.

We ended up losing the Super Bowl to a great New York Giants team. We were on the verge of being the greatest team in the history of the game. It was the toughest loss of my career, but having three prior championships softened the blow. Looking back, I wouldn't have changed a thing. I take great pride in the fact that we had the guts to go for it, to attempt to do something that had never been done before.

In this day and age, I think going undefeated and winning the Super Bowl would be bigger than what the '72 Dolphins did. I feel like it would be more revered in this age of constant scrutiny and media attention. You would be put above the '72 Dolphins. The season is longer. Quite simply, 19-0 is better than 17-0.

I don't think you ever regret making a run at history. You've come this far and haven't lost, and now this is your chance to have the Super Bowl championship that would be respected by all. Even three-time winners.

History. Go for it.

Tedy Bruschi played 13 seasons for the New England Patriots and is a member of the franchise's 50th anniversary team. ESPNBoston.com Patriots reporter Mike Reiss contributed to this report.