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Beating the Odds Is Tedy's Ballgame

Eight months after suffering a stroke, New England linebacker Bruschi could play Sunday.

October 27, 2005|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

James McPherson, a cardiothoracic surgeon in the Tommy Lasorda Heart Institute at Centinela Hospital, said the procedure to fix the heart should not necessarily preclude a patient from resuming a career as a professional football player. But, he said, the injury to the brain as a result of a stroke is "a more unpredictable situation."

Bruschi said that his decision to return came only after specialists gave him a clean bill of health and the OK to play.

"This isn't something you just go for," Bruschi said. "This is something you make sure everything's right.

"I mean, come on, I lost my sight. One morning, one day you wake up and you can't see your sons very clearly anymore because you've had a stroke. You can't walk right. Two days before, you're playing in a football game, now you can barely go down the steps. Two days before, you're making tackles in the Pro Bowl and then all of a sudden your vision on your left side, you can't see your hand right here.

"I'm not going to jump into something without being absolutely 100% positive -- and I am.... I would never want to put what I have with my family at risk, because first and foremost I am a family man."

And, as a family man would, he said he and his wife made the decision together.

"She jokes about having a degree in neurology and cardiology because of all the information she's gotten and all the doctors she's spoken with," he said. "This is our decision."

That's not to say the Bruschis have been able to control the information flow. Although he has been intensely private about his situation, Bruschi hasn't always succeeded in keeping reporters at bay. When he was released from the hospital after suffering the stroke, two news helicopters followed his limousine home. Later, a TV station aired unauthorized footage of him walking in his backyard.

Tight end Christian Fauria, one of his closest friends on the team, said the buzz surrounding Bruschi is like some kind of bizarre reality show.

"It's not 'The Truman Show' anymore," Fauria said. "It's the Tedy Show."

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