FOXBORO -- Former New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi was enshrined into the Patriots Hall of Fame Monday evening. Bruschi retired from the NFL after the 2008 season and only two of his teammates remain on the current roster: Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork. Both met with reporters before Bruschi's induction ceremony to warmly recall the night's honoree.
"Tedy was a great player," Brady said. "He brought so much enthusiasm to our locker room, to our team. He had a very unique personality. Very highly motivated person that had a great work ethic and was a great leader -- especially to the younger players. He was a great mentor to so many guys, including myself."
Asked about his favorite Bruschi moments, the quarterback was all smiles.
"There's a lot of them. When he used to bring the team up after a game after a win and he'd say, 'How do you feel about a victory?' Those are special. I get chills thinking about it. Those are great times and he fortunately created a lot of memories for all of us. Fans, players, and guys that played with him, coaches that were a part of those. He's been a great ambassador for this team and this community."
Brady's quotes were not just lip service spun on a sunny day in Foxboro. He invoked his former teammate's example when the media hoard bore down last week regarding Aaron Hernandez's arrest.
"We’ve had such great examples over the years, whether it’s Tedy Bruschi or Mike Vrabel or Troy Brown or Kevin Faulk," he maintained. "Guys that have really worn this uniform and worn it well."
Wilfork's also expressed intense respect for Bruschi.
"You don't have to lead all the time by just talking. Sometimes you have to lead by example, and I think when you talk about leader, there's no better person to turn back and look at then Tedy Bruschi. Because he gave it his all, every play. When he missed a couple of games from his [stroke] and came back... I mean, he came to win. He came back because he wanted to play football and he felt like he could still get it done. He always gave it his all on the field. That's one thing you never can take from him."
Bruschi was an inspiration. He came to the team as a third round pick in 1996 and worked his way to be a Pro Bowler by 2004. All three of New England's Super Bowl titles came during Bruschi's tenure. Wilfork didn't grant any room for coincidence.
"Every time he gave a huddle call, you could just tell in his voice how confident he was in the play. Just being alert on the field, knowing the situation we were in. [He is] a very, very smart person. You always just remember the guy in the middle. Just to hear his voice, you always knew you had somebody who had your back, in him."
"He helped build this organization to what it is."