Bruschi not looking past '09 season
And one 36-year-old Bruschi who may be doing that just one more season.
The boys and girls, aged 7 to 14, all were wearing dark-blue Patriots jerseys with Bruschi's name and number 54 on them, given as part of the linebacker's one-day football camp at Gillette Stadium.
Bruschi spent less time on that field in 2008 than in recent seasons, often coming out on third down. His 14th NFL season may not be much different. Will there be a 15th? He's not even thinking about that.
"After you get past 10 [NFL seasons] I think that's the way you have to do it because you never know what's going to happen within a year. You just don't," he said. "So when the season's over, you sort of reassess things and that's how it's going to go again."
His career has been full of surprises: he's spent it all with one team and missed just seven games in 2005 after a stroke early that year. Then came the unexpected trade of longtime linebacking teammate and friend Mike Vrabel to Kansas City in February.
Bruschi's numbers were down in 2008.
His 75 tackles were his second fewest in six seasons, more than just the 65 he had when he played nine games in 2005 after his stroke. He had no sacks for the first time in his 13 seasons. And he missed the last three games with a knee injury.
But he appears healthy now.
Bruschi ran among the five stations set up Tuesday to provide instruction in tackling, running, catching, kicking and throwing. Four teammates -- linebacker Jerod Mayo, special teams player Ray Ventrone, tight end David Thomas, kicker Stephen Gostkowski -- and former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak each handled one station.
"Nice hit," a smiling Bruschi shouted after one boy leveled a yellow tackling bag. "What's your name? Zach? Nice hit."
Then they shook hands.
Bruschi held the camp for the second straight year on behalf of Savings Bank Life Insurance for which he is a spokesman.
"It's a very intense camp. It's not just standing around taking pictures," said Bob Sheridan, chief executive officer of SBLI. Bruschi's stroke "is very reinforcing when he says life is unpredictable and uncertain."
Bruschi began playing football at age 14 and attended his first camp at 16 or 17 in Klamath Falls, Ore.
He doesn't know when he'll stop or what he'll do then. But his organized approach Tuesday showed some coaching skills. He set up the camp without help from his current coach, Bill Belichick.
"I've had this going on in my head for a while," Bruschi said. "I mapped out the field where the stations will be, how the guys will teach their fundamentals. It's a little Belichikian because I've been trying to keep it organized and you heard me talking to the kids about getting better and doing their job."
Those are two of Belichick's key points -- get better each day and handle your duties.
"I know I can coach," Bruschi said. "I know the game. I've been in it so long, it's just going to be a matter of what I do when I'm done [playing]. So I don't know. It's a passion of mine. I love football. I know I want to be in it. Let's just see what I'll be doing."
On Tuesday he was running, smiling, shouting encouragement and slapping hands with campers.
"Do it the way coach Mayo showed you," he told one of them.
His son Rex was another. Tedy was impressed when he belted the tackling bag to the turf.
"That's like what you do to me all the time at home," the oldest Bruschi on the field said with a grin.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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