FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Tedy Bruschi never held in his emotions when he played linebacker for the New England Patriots. But Thursday night he had a tougher time maintaining his calm.
With the crowd at Gillette Stadium chanting “Tedy, Tedy, Tedy,” Bruschi was honored at the half of the Patriots’ game against the New York Jets for his induction into the team’s Hall of Fame.
Bruschi played 13 seasons with the Patriots, winning three Super Bowl championships. He was elected captain seven times.
“He was the heart and soul of the Patriots’ defense in the most successful era of franchise history, and the most successful decade in NFL history,” said Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots.
Kraft added that Bruschi’s “full tilt, full-time” style of play endeared him to Patriots fans.
Bruschi, attending with his wife, Heidi, and three sons, laughed when he took the podium, clearly enjoying one more chance to face the Patriots’ fans. He thanked the fans for their support and called Kraft “a great owner and a good friend.”
Then he said that playing in New England meant three things:
“One,” he said, “playing in front of the best fans in the National Football League.
“Two, hanging (championship) banners.
“Three, enjoying beating the New York Jets. Let’s have a good second half.”
As he ended, the sky opened up and rain pounded the field. New England led the Jets 13-3 at the end of a sloppily played first half.
THE PATRIOTS’ inactive players came as no surprise, including wide receiver Danny Amendola, and tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Zach Sudfeld.
Amendola was out with a groin injury, suffered in the first half of last week’s win at Buffalo. He came back into the game and finished with 10 catches for 104 yards. But the short week did not allow him sufficient time to heal. The NFL Network reported before the game that Amendola could miss from 2 to 6 weeks.
Sudfeld suffered a hamstring injury in the Buffalo game and did not play the fourth quarter.
Gronkowski is still recovering from offseason surgery to his back and forearm. With 10 days before New England’s next game, he could make his season debut against Tampa Bay.
Those moves allowed West Enfield native and former University of Maine player Matthew Mulligan to make his Patriots debut at tight end.
GIL SANTOS, the longtime Patriots play-by-play radio voice who retired after last season, served as the honorary team captain before the game.
LAST SUNDAY’S win at Buffalo was the team’s 226th since Robert Kraft purchased the Patriots in 1994 — or one more than New England has in the previous 33 seasons.
THURSDAY GAMES have only been so-so for the Patriots in their history. Entering the game, New England was 6-5 in Thursday games, including 2-1 against the Jets. The Patriots beat the Jets 49-19 last Thanksgiving night in the “butt-fumble” game.
Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: