Dynasty? He won't hear of it
If Tedy Bruschi's responses yesterday are any indication, forget about the Patriots including themselves in any discussion of dynasties in NFL history.
In a conference call with the media, Bruschi was asked what teams came to mind when he thought of NFL dynasties.
"I think of San Francisco," he said. "I think they won the most, in terms of five Super Bowls. They lead the way in terms of the organization that they have been. Of course, the Steelers with [Terry] Bradshaw, when they won four Super Bowls. Those are two teams and organizations that pop into my mind right away, and also the Cowboys for what they did."
Bruschi mentioned those teams' "consistency in terms of the way they approach the game. I can't speak of the Steelers of the 1970s. That was before my time. But in terms of seeing things, I did watch a lot of the Cowboys games and I grew up in San Francisco, Calif. So, seeing their core group of players keeping their attitude consistent in terms of just trying to win football games, even through a coaching change here or there, they were able to still keep their core group of guys together and maintain that level of excellence."
Which is exactly what people are now seeing from the Patriots.
"I am a member of the Patriots and I am talking about those teams. That is because it is in the past," he said. "I won't talk about that when it comes to my team. I'll let maybe some team in the next decade talk about us, but I won't talk about that."
And how would the Patriots stack up against those great teams?
"That is a question that only that video game can solve, when you can get the Patriots of one year against the Steelers of another year," said Bruschi. "I think we are a good team, yes, and we have to play the Eagles. We have to play the Eagles and that is what we have got to worry about. To worry how we would play against those other teams is just something that we don't really want to concern ourselves with. We'll save that for the video game."
Most would agree with Bruschi that a team about to play in the Super Bowl, even if it has won two in the last three years, shouldn't be talking about itself as a dynasty.
Bruschi, who grew up a 49ers fan, was also asked about the common comparison of San Francisco great Joe Montana and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
"The guy [Brady] already has two Super Bowl MVPs behind him and he has another big stage to play [Feb. 6], and he is a guy who has portrayed the very best of football quarterbacking the past couple of years," said Bruschi. "So, Joe Montana was the best in his day and I think we have the best quarterback today."
But there are bigger issues to ponder. Like should the Patriots plan on injured Eagles receiver Terrell Owens making it back a week from Sunday? Or how does the Eagles' offense change with tight end Chad Lewis out and L.J. Smith in?
"I don't think [the loss of Lewis] should impact [how they will approach the game]," said Bruschi. "We have been a team that has had to deal with a lot of injuries also. It really hasn't affected the way we have approached games. So, I don't think that they will change things too much. It is the Super Bowl now, and I don't think they would change things too drastically, and sort of keep doing what they are doing.
"[Smith] is a very capable tight end that is maybe a little more athletic. He has been stepping up this year in terms of the big plays."
Meanwhile, Owens is saying he will play while his orthopedist refuses to clear him medically.
"Well, he is the best receiver in the game," Bruschi said. "[He is] the best single, pure, true wide receiver in the game, if you ask me, with the size he has, the strength he has, and his physical ability. Now, to the extent of the injury, I watch [television]. I read the newspapers. People say it is bad. People say it is bad and he might not play. But T.O. wants to play, so [you could] possibly anticipate that he is going to play. He is the best in the business and I am sure us anticipating that he is maybe going to play will even step up our preparation even more."
While the Patriots had no problem stopping Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb in Week 2 of the 2003 season, Bruschi feels he compares favorably to Brady in terms of intangibles such as leadership and mental toughness.
"Donovan is a guy that has been able to play with a lot of pressure," said Bruschi. "That pressure he had in the NFC Championship game, people telling him he had to win that or the city of Philadelphia might go into shambles or something like that. They wanted that game so bad, the city of Philadelphia, and Donovan has sort of embraced all of that and accepted and acknowledged it all, and to still go out there and perform the way he did really speaks volumes of the quarterback and the mental stability he has as a player."
This will be Bruschi's fourth Super Bowl, but he says the feeling never gets old.
"I hope I can talk to these younger guys and these younger guys can see how I'm approaching this and how special I feel this is, because we have some second-year players on this team who have been to two Super Bowls," he said. "I hope I can make them realize that, hey, this doesn't happen every year. This is my fourth Super Bowl and I still realize that every single one is special. Every single one. You have to cherish it because it is a celebration of all your hard work and efforts during the year and you don't get here every year. Even though our second-year players have been there two out of two times, I hope they understand that this is still very, very special."