State Your Case: Was Tedy Bruschi's impact worthy of Hall Of Fame consideration?

Ron Borges

Tedy Bruschi’s Hall of Fame credentials present a classic dilemma for voters. What do you do with a player whose value exceeds his statistics? That was Bruschi in a nutshell.

Bruschi played 13 years for the New England Patriots, most of them as a starter on teams that went to five Super Bowls, won three and posted a perfect 16-0 regular season and a nearly perfect 18-1 end to that season by losing Super Bowl XLII, 17-14. Obviously that loss was not a result of poor defensive play by Bruschi & Co., a unit that finished fourth in the league in points allowed in 2007 and continued its stinginess against the New York Giants in a season-ending losing effort.

Bruschi began his career as a pass rushing specialist under Bill Parcells after tying the all-time NCAA record with 51 career sacks while at Arizona and ended his career as a tackling machine and Yodi-like guru of Bill Belichick’s dynasty-building defenses. He was the glue and the mental acuity that held those defenses together, once being described by teammate Rodney Harrison as someone whose contributions could not be measured by statistics.

Perhaps so but what his career statistics say is that he went to only one Pro Bowl, was twice named second team All-Pro (but never first) and finished with 30 ½ sacks, 17 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and 12 interceptions, returning four for touchdowns. He also made 1,074 tackles and, one must not forget, a remarkable comeback from a stroke three days after playing in that Pro Bowl.

After his February, 2005 stroke left him partially paralyzed for a time, he unexpectedly returned to play on Oct. 30, 2005 against the Buffalo Bills, he made seven tackles and played more than half the game. He played in the final nine games of the regular season and the playoffs, a performance that led to Bruschi being named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year. A year later he would lead the team in tackles with 124 in the regular season and 24 in the post season.

He also retired tied for fourth in NFL history among linebackers with four interception returns for touchdowns and was the first player in NFL history to return four consecutive interceptions for touchdowns.

His post-season production was even more consistent. Bruschi played in 22 playoff games, five Super Bowls and finished with 119 tackles, 4 ½ sacks, two interceptions and a remarkable six fumble recoveries. In Super Bowl XXXI he had two sacks of Brett Favre. In Super Bowl XXXVI he had a fumble recovery. In Super Bowl XXXIX, he had nine tackles, a sack and an interception and in Super Bowl XLII he had eight tackles. His overall impact on great teams is clear but his raw numbers argue he is a classic “Hall of Very Good’’ player.

But was he more than that. Here’s what Bill Belichick has to say on the subject.

“He always did the right thing,’’ Belichick said of Bruschi at the end of his career. “I’ve had the privilege of coaching a lot of great players and great leaders in the NFL and I’ll just put Tedy up there with all of them and above all of them.’’

That would put him above a number of Hall of Fame players Belichick has coached but one might just write that off as the musings of a sentimental man, although it would be difficult to find a sentimental bone inside Bill Belichick’s body when it comes to football.

Belichick went on to say, “If you ask me to sum up how I feel about Tedy Bruschi in five seconds? He’s the perfect player.’’

Is there a place for the perfect player who lacks the perfect statistics in the Hall of Fame? One would think so but it’s a question the 48-person selection committee will be wrestling with if Bruschi’s name ever makes the list of finalists. What makes a Hall of Famer? A perfect statistical resume or an assessment by one of the greatest coaches in NFL history that someone without those perfect statistics was still “the perfect player?’’

Comments (16)
No. 1-5
brian wolf
brian wolf

Great piece Ron ...

Another example of a tough, complimentary player like Harrison, like Seymour, like McGinest, even like Samuel, who can barely make a HOF preliminary list, of players who made the Patriots a machine-like championship defense.

Bruschi could do everything and played similiar to Zach Thomas, though Thomas got the accolades.

Its crazy because half of the Raiders offense and half of the Steelers defense from the 70s are in the HOF, yet most of these defensive stars for NE, who went to as many SBs as these great teams, cant get anyone elected ... a testament to the team first attitude and versatility demanded by Bill Belichick.

Then we have another player, who played in Two NFL Championship games, Three consecutive NFC Championship games and Two Super Bowls, was an All-Pro and Pro Bowler, stopped the run and had nearly 100 sacks in regular season play, including more in the postseason, along with a fumble returned TD, safety and critical interception that helped win two of those three postseason games he produced a turnover in but cant get a HOF audience ... Cowboy DE George Andrie ...


Seymour will be elected soon, and I think over time Harrison and Bruschi could get a shot, let's remember that although the 70s Raiders offense and 70s Steelers defense have plenty in the Hall it took decades for that occur including via seniors route


Great article on the ultimate team player...based on awards Bruschi really doesn't have a chance for the HOF, but based on what he meant to a multiple championship team he should definately be considered beyond the preliminary round...not sure if he's been a semi-finalist.


he's never been semi-finalist and its a big jump from 130 to 25, hard to say if he will ever be considered among 25 best on the modern ballot

Jo Yan
Jo Yan

Hopefully nothing was plagiarized -- Tedy deserves better.

State Your Case