Friday, September 04, 2009

HIt Like A Girl-Goodbye to an All-Time Great.



September is a sports fan Valhalla. Baseball teams fight for playoff spots, hockey is right around the corner, and football pre-season is here! What could be better than watching Papelbon dominate for two whole innings instead of just one, watching Tom Brady throw sweet, sweet touchdown passes to Randy Moss and then watching Tedy Bruschi deliver his retirement speech all in one week?

What?! Yes, that last part is devastating. I heard about Bruschi’s retirement via Twitter, and I thought tweeting pinheads were rumor-mongering, like the time I thought people updating about Nick Green pitching was a joke. I need to start believing what I read on Twitter.

Tedy, how could you do this to me? How could you do this to US?! We had to suffer through last season sans Tom Brady, but we could hope for better days and the Return of the King. Now you’re asking us to live the rest of our Patriot-watching lives without you? Sigh….

There isn’t a single player who can replace Tedy Bruschi. Period. Not on this team; not in this league. Now that he has left football, the whole Pats defense is going to have to account for his absence – particularly Jerod Mayo and Gary Guyton. You hear that guys? I want to see you work your little defense-playing butts off.

As for those pants and those butts… See, I grew up with parents who loved football. My mom loved the pants, and my dad, well he’s a coach, so he loved the game. My football DNA is a pretty even mix; I adore the game, but when guys bend into a huddle…look, if you are a guy, you don’t watch womens' beach volleyball just for the great plays, do you? (Editor's note:I watch it for the thrill of competition. Okay, not really) Cut me a little slack.

Even Belichick got choked up at Bruschi’s news. Bill Belichick had a shaky voice at the press conference. This was like watching a stone wall weep. "How do I feel about Tedy Bruschi?" Belichick said. "He's a perfect player."

Coach Belichick is right. Bruschi is the perfect player. You have guys who are playmakers, guys with great leadership ability, guys who can tackle like no one else, and guys with superb butts in their football pants. Tedy Bruschi is all those guys. Emphasis on the butt part. And anatomy aside, what can you say about the spirit of a guy who came back from a stroke, who was famous for loving his kids, and was admired by his teammates and opponents alike?

I am not a native New Englander, but when I first started following the Patriots I became enamored of Tedy Bruschi. He is an excellent linebacker. I love linebackers. If I was a guy and I played football, I would want to be a linebacker. You get to roam around the defensive backfield. You run in; you hang back. You make snap decisions faster than thought, so you have to play with guts and heart. You are light on your feet, but powerful and fast enough to dodge around offensive lineman who can flatten you. And when you are wrong, you are very, very, wrong, but, when you are right, you are SO right, standing over a sacked quarterback who hears bells in his helmet.

Bruschi is retiring with 1134 tackles, 30½ sacks and 12 interceptions. You have to be depressed to know that you will never see that 247 pound body plug up a hole again. The clash of muscle and plastic! The thud of the players hitting the ground! Sweat! Excuse me, I am getting dizzy, I need a moment…

Bruschi made football one of my favorite sports. Patriots fans can’t expect an epic return from Tedy (He’s not Brett Favre, come on!). The man’s got class, and while players come and players go, class shows up only now and then.

So long Tedy Bruschi. We will miss you.

Samantha Lewis is the author of "Hit Like a Girl". She is the Creative Director of Northshore Editorial in Salem, MA and can be followed on Twitter.

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