The start of another NFL season and another New England Patriots’ run at the Super Bowl is just around the corner. Earlier this week, the Patriots honored one of the greats of their Super Bowl-winning teams of 2001-04. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi was inducted into the Patriots’ Hall of Fame, and BST&N honors him as our Vintage Athlete of The Month.
Bruschi played his college football at Arizona, and it’s surely no coincidence that the 1992-95 period he played there not only marks one of the high points for a program that has had an up-and-down history, but that the high point came about because of outstanding defense.
A neck injury prevented Bruschi from contributing in his true freshman year of 1991, and he ended up a medical redshirt. He got on the field as a part-time player on a team whose defense nearly shocked the nation when they took #1-ranked Miami to the wire before losing 8-7.
One year later was the breakout season for Bruschi and for his school. He was moved to defensive end, made second-team All-American and was voted team MVP. The Arizona defense as a whole was nicknamed “Desert Swarm” and they got a bid to the Fiesta Bowl, for a revenge shot at Miami. The entire nation watched in shock as Bruschi and the defense he led completely dominated the more heralded Hurricanes in a 29-0 whitewashing.
Bruschi got even better over the next two years, making first-team All-American each time and being a finalist for the Lombardi Award, given to the best lineman or linebacker in the country. He came up short of this Lombardi Award, but that wouldn’t be the case for another Lombardi Trophy that they give out in the NFL.