Farewell, 54: Patriots Linebacker Tedy Bruschi to Retire

Samer IsmailAnalyst IIAugust 30, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 14:   Linebacker Tedy Bruschi #54 of the New England Patriots celebrates after returning an interception for a touchdown during the NFL game against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 14, 2003 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Patriots defeated the Eagles 31-10.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The average NFL career is less than five years.

Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi defied the odds more than once in his 13-year career.

But that career, according to Al Michaels on tonight's Sunday Night Football broadcast, will come to an end at a press conference tomorrow.

Bruschi was one of just a handful of players on the 2009 Patriots roster who played in all three of New England's Super Bowl victories, and his many contributions to the team over the years will never be forgotten.

I'm sure every Patriots fan who saw Super Bowl XXXIX will remember Bruschi holding three fingers up in celebration after that victory.

And anyone who saw his interception return in the snow, and the ensuing snow fireworks at Gillette Stadium, will never forget that memory.

They'll also remember his selfless dedication to the team: more than once, Bruschi said he'd never play for any other team.

But, most of all, Patriots fans should remember his perseverance. A few days after his first and only Pro Bowl appearance, Bruschi suffered a debilitating stroke. Not even a year later, he was back on the field, helping his Patriot teammates beat the Buffalo Bills.

All of that said, though, Bruschi must have realized that the time had come to hang up his cleats and give way to the younger linebackers. These include Jerod Mayo, last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Gary Guyton, an undrafted free agent who nevertheless found his way onto the field in Week One of last year.

When Bruschi had his stroke, Patriots owner Robert Kraft offered to tear up his contract and give him another job with the Patriots.

Patriot fans can only hope that offer still holds, and that Bruschi takes advantage of it.