FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, whose comeback from a Feb. 16 stroke has been one of the most courageous stories in sports, has been awarded the Patriots 2005 Ed Block Courage Award. The award is given by the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation to one player from each NFL team - selected by his teammates - who exemplifies a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. Recipients of the award will be honored on Tuesday, March 7 at a ceremony in Baltimore, Md.
Bruschi is the only player in NFL history to return to the field after suffering a stroke. The 10-year veteran had a mild stroke at his home on Feb. 16, just three days after playing in his first Pro Bowl in Hawaii. As a result of the stroke, he suffered blurred vision and numbness on one side of his body. Over the ensuing months Bruschi continued to make daily improvements through his rehabilitation. On July 20, he announced that he intended to forgo the 2005 season while focusing on his health and his family. The Patriots subsequently placed him on the physically unable to perform list. As training camp commenced and the season began, Bruschi's health kept improving as he continued to train at the Patriots' facility at Gillette Stadium. Eyeing a possible return to football for the 2006 season, he sought the opinion of numerous doctors, all of whom gave Bruschi a clean bill of health. His doctors told him that if he chose to, he would be able to play football again without limitations. Feeling healthy and having received medical clearance, Bruschi announced on Oct. 17 that he planned to begin practicing in hopes of returning to the field in 2005. Just 13 days later, Bruschi returned to game action against the Buffalo Bills in a nationally-televised contest on Oct. 30, re-claiming his familiar spot as a starting inside linebacker. He played in nine of the team's final 10 regular-season games, and the Patriots recorded a 7-2 record in those games to finish the season 10-6 and claim their third consecutive AFC East title. Despite playing in just nine of 16 games, Bruschi finished the season ranked fifth on the team with 72 tackles and added two sacks, four passes defensed and a forced fumble.