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Patriots LB Bruschi to skip 2005 season

New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi will sit out this season because of a stroke he suffered 10 days after helping the Patriots win their third Super Bowl in four years.

FOXBORO, Mass. (July 20, 2005) -- New England linebacker Tedy Bruschi will sit out this season because of a stroke he suffered 10 days after helping the Patriots win their third Super Bowl in four years.

"Tedy ... has declared his intentions to forgo the 2005 campaign," Patriots spokesman Stacey James said in a statement. "The Bruschi family wanted to express their heartfelt appreciation for the tremendous outpouring of support they have received from fans throughout New England and others around the country."

Bruschi, 32, suffered a mild stroke on Feb. 16, three days after playing in the Pro Bowl and 10 days after helping New England beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in the Super Bowl. James said Bruschi has made daily progress in his rehabilitation.

He has attended team meetings, helped new players learn the defense and worked out in the Patriots' weight room. But didn't practice during the team's June minicamp.

Training camp begins July 28.

"All offseason, we have seen and felt Tedy's strong and upbeat presence," coach Bill Belichick said. "As usual, we will keep the focus on the short term and address the future in due course. We are pleased Tedy continues to be part of the team and he has our complete support."

Bruschi had said it was possible that he could sit out the 2005 season and return in 2006.

"Football to me, it's something I love and it's something I'll always want to do," the Patriots linebacker said last month at a party to pass out the latest Super Bowl rings. "But I've got to think about my wife and my sons and just make sure things are right."

Bruschi not only was a star player for the Patriots, but he was an inspirational leader on the team, an overachiever who was an example to the players around him. A 250-pound defensive lineman at Arizona who was converted to linebacker as a rookie in 1996, he was usually around the ball, making game-turning plays on a unit known for them.

Bruschi was second on the team in total tackles last season with 122. In 136 career games, he has 753 total tackles, 25 sacks, 11 interceptions and 17 forced fumbles.

Since the stroke, he been largely silent about his status and had not indicated whether he would return. But with training camp approaching, he was forced to make a decision.

"The organization has been so supportive for me," Bruschi said at the ring ceremony. "I'm not pressured with any timetable. My family and I are worried about my health and we're just making sure I'm getting better and that's the only thing we're focusing on right now."

Bruschi's agent, Brad Blank, told The Associated Press that he had no comment at this time on his client's decision.

It is rare for someone of Bruschi's age to have a stroke, but not unheard of, said Dr. Robert Adams of the American Stroke Association.

It's even more unusual for someone in peak physical condition, such as a professional athlete, to suffer a stroke. "Physical fitness and being physically active is certainly helpful to prevent heart disease and stroke," he said. "Unfortunately, it's not complete prevention."

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