By: Bob George/
February 17, 2005

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This isn't about next season.

This isn't about a Boston Three Party. What if Roman Phifer or Ted Johnson retire. How will we get along without him. Is next year totally shot. What will the personality of the Patriot defense be like. How you and I were already making plans to be in Detroit in February, only now those plans just went up in smoke.

What is this about?

Heidi. Tedy Jr. Rex. Dante. And their husband and father.

Being together as a family.

Enjoying a nice quality of life.

Watching the kids grow up.

Watching the kids have kids.

Growing old together.

For all this, anything football matters nothing at all. No Super Bowl win is more important than any of the above. For all of the above to happen without any negative intervention of any kind, if the football career of Tedy Bruschi has come to an end, let it be so.

Bruschi was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital on Wednesday night, complaining of severe headaches, blurred vision and partial paralysis. An AP report late Thursday said that Bruschi suffered a mild stroke, but could be released from the hospital as early as Friday. According to a Globe report earlier Thursday, Bruschi was sitting up in bed and was free of any paralysis or blurry vision. He is being kept at MGH for further testing and observation.

Through all this, his family has kept vigil at the hospital, with a public request that they be given their due privacy. Meanwhile, his extended family, that being his fan base, sits by nervously, hanging on what few reports emanate from MGH, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.

We won't make you sick with the "Why Tedy?” stuff. While this sort of problem could have been caused by a football injury, it is just as likely that weak blood vessels throughout the body could be genetic. Nobody is constructed so perfectly that nothing whatsoever goes wrong in his or her lifetime. In Bruschi's case, he has a blood vessel problem. If it was indeed congenital, what can anyone do about it? The last thing Bruschi would want is your pity.

What Bruschi does need is a total understanding of how his fan base feels at this moment, in hopes that whatever comes of this problem, he will feel at peace.

It is not known if Bruschi will have to retire, let alone be completely out of danger. One broken vessel might begat another. It may be caused by any sort of collision during a game, or it may just happen when he's out at the park playing with his kids. There is too much unknown regarding this situation right now to speculate on the long-term prognosis for Bruschi at this point.

So, let's create this hypothetical scenario. Bruschi is fine, recovers nicely, but due to this problem is forced to retire from football. What then?

If Bruschi never plays another down in the NFL again due to this condition, fine. Nobody out there in Patriot Nation would object. Do not go anywhere near a football field again if it will put your good health in jeopardy. Everyone out there will accept the fact that the Tedy Bruschi era in Foxborough has come to an end. And everyone will be perfectly okay with that.

And we don't say that because we've been secretly wishing Bruschi would retire because, at age 31, his skills are declining. We all know that Bruschi could go several more years, just like Phifer. We say that because of what was stated at the top of the article. Faith and family first, football second.

Bruschi's career will have come to an early end. But the adulation his fan base will continue to have for him will not die out. Instead, it will continue to grow and grow. Nobody who saw him play will ever forget his zeal for the game, how well he maximized his smallish (for the position) body and transformed himself into one of the best middle linebackers of his day. Further, nobody will ever forget how his zeal for the game permeated itself amongst his teammates and made them play at higher levels because they were on the same field as Tedy.

Just so that Bruschi fully understands the feelings of his fans, Bob Kraft will arrange something in the fall for him. It will be a retirement bash, so called. But Bruschi will hear the sentiments of the players and the fans. His teammates will say what they need to say, and they'll probably have a hard time spitting it out. Then the fans will have their say. They'll say it in posters, they'll say it in jerseys, and they'll say it in cheers.

And it will come out as the biggest "Thank you!” the world has ever known.

Or, even better: the biggest "We love you!”.

You have talented athletes in this region. But you have only a handful of beloved athletes. Bruschi belongs in the beloved category. Few athletes of any era have garnered as much adulation as Bruschi has. He earned this adulation through his approach to the game, what he has been able to accomplish, and his own adulation for his fans. You have athletes who put up big numbers, but Bruschi was able to do much more than that.

To put it in one sentence, he struck a nerve. Fans simply cannot help but love him.

Naturally, he could come back and resume his career, and all this retirement stuff is moot. This is just in case Bruschi has played his last down in the NFL. This is to make sure that everyone keeps his career, as well as his life, in proper perspective.

If this is indeed it for Bruschi, let the retirement begin. And let his family enjoy him forever.

That goes for his extended family as well.