Thursday, July 28, 2005

52 + 54 Equalled a Ton of Heart

With the announcement today of Ted Johnson's retirement, we are officially without both our Teds for the upcoming season. These were two of the hardest hitting, hard-nosed, committed and passionate football players I have ever seen, and they will be sorely missed.

Everyone knows what a terror Tedy Bruschi has been in the league for the past couple seasons, but let's not forget how amazing Ted Johnson was back before injuries got to him. Back in '96 and '97, he was flat out the best player on the football field at any given time, and he sparked an era of defensive greatness that has carried over to this very day.

I will never forget the mayhem that Johnson and Chris Slade used to cause every game during that Super Bowl year of '96, and how they brought hope back to New England football fans after decades of anguish. That '96 team won our first division title in 10 years, held opponents to 19 points per game in the regular season, and only gave up 9 total points in the AFC playoff tournament en route to the Super Bowl. Ted Johnson had 114 tackles that year!

The Patriots have been contenders ever since. That defense and that 1996 team changed things for us. They put the Pats officially on the map as a team to reckoned with, and made us believe that every year could be OUR year. We owe a debt of gratitude to Ted Johnson and the men of that team.

So everyone raise a glass tonight and tip one back in honor of Ted Johnson and everything he brought to the game, to the franchise and to our lives. And then cross your fingers that Tedy Bruschi will be back next year to pick up where he left off. I just can't imagine this team without a Ted at linebacker.


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