FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick opened his press conference on Wednesday by remembering Don Brocher, the team's longtime equipment manager who died on Monday.
"As a football team, organization, were saddened by the loss of Donny this weekend," Belichick began. "In a game where we all saw what changes were made on Monday throughout the league for somebody to be here for 40 years, doing the job that he did for so many owners, coaches, general managers, you name it, players, is really a tribute to his dedication, consistency, dependability and the quality of the work that he did.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Laurie and his family. Hes a guy that six months ago when (former assistant equipment manager) John Hillebrand went to Jacksonville, (Brocher) sat in my office and he talked about how good he was feeling, how much he was looking forward to a few more years on the job and doing some other things that he was looking forward to. Six months later we are where we are today."
Brocher, 60, began working for the Patriots as a ball boy on the equipment managers staff in 1972 and was hired full-time as an assistant that season, according to the Patriots media relations staff.
He remained a member of the teams equipment staff since then and was promoted from assistant to equipment manager in February of 1994, shortly after Robert Kraft purchased the team. He was entering his 19th season as equipment manager and his 41st season overall with the Patriots when he was diagnosed with leukemia in June of 2012.
"Don was here for the San Francisco game," noted Belichick. "I dont think anybody really had a sense of the physical and mental toughness that he displayed that night just by being here and doing his job and being here for us in that type of situation. But that was kind of Donny. He was never one to complain, never one to talk about how he was doing, he was just there to help the rest of us."