A week from today, the roles will be reversed.
Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi, normally the one being cheered on by fans at Gillette Stadium, will be doing the rooting when Tedy's Team laces up its running shoes for the Boston Marathon.
"I'm going to be tracking all my runners via the Internet, seeing where they are," an excited Bruschi explained. "We have goals, from three-and-a-half hours all the way to completion. We've stayed out there until they were breaking down the stands. I'll just be very supportive that day."
Now in its third year, Tedy's Team boasts nearly 50 runners, all of whom are either stroke survivors (like Bruschi) or have a relative or friend who is.
"A lot of runners have run twice. We may have one or two that have run all three," Bruschi noted. "We have this race, which is 26.2 miles, but we also have the Falmouth Road Race … that's in the fall … but that's only seven miles. So, of course, we have a lot more participants for that," he added with a laugh.
On Saturday night, the runners will join Bruschi and his wife, Heidi, for what's being billed a "Night of Inspiration." They'll "carb up" on a pasta meal (said to help boost a runner's energy level) and hear some motivational words from invited guest speakers.
Tedy's Team has become one of Bruschi's favorite ways to help raise stroke awareness.
"The other goal I have, besides winning championships, is to make a difference. I really didn't have something that I was passionate about in my life back then [before the stroke]. After my stroke, it was obvious to me what I needed to do."
One thing he won't do, however, is run a marathon.
"No," he joked. "I train for eight-second bursts [on the football field]."
Bruschi has been back in Foxborough for the past three weeks doing just that – training for the 2008 season in the Patriots' offseason strength and conditioning program.
"It's getting going now," he observed. "I think at first it starts slow. Especially after we ended the year last year … it was a long season ending in early February, so, the longer the season's go, the less time you have off. But now that we're getting into the fourth week, guys are really starting to work hard and get ready to do it again."
In the coming weeks, Bruschi will also have the chance to get acquainted with Victor Hobson, the former Jets linebacker who signed with the Patriots earlier this month.
"Don't know him personally. I just met him for the first time today," Bruschi admitted. "I'm here all the time, and it looks like he's going to be here. So, the two of us forming a working relationship will start now."
Relationships are very important to Bruschi, which is why everyone on Tedy's Team is tied, in one way or another, to a stroke survivor. He believes that bond helps those who've suffered strokes – even those like Bruschi himself who has completely recovered – continue their healing process.
"I wanted everyone to be able to relate with each other," he said. "Relationships are formed, friendships are formed through this team. It's very therapeutic."