Javier Morales took first place in the 2010 Arizona Press Club’s Metro Sports Reporting category
Don’t forget: For all the links, Twitter feeds and news feeds related to Arizona and its opponents, go to Morales’ site WILDABOUTAZCATS.NET. No other Arizona sports Web site is like it!
No. 4: TEDY BRUSCHI, defensive end (1992-1995)
Being a badass can be uplifting to not only a football program, but also a community, and, yes, a nation.
Tedy Bruschi is a Wildcat legend and a Tucson favorite because of how he emerged from obscurity, perceived to be too small and slow out of high school (6 feet and 230 pounds), to become the school’s all-time sack leader with 55. That’s more than double the next guy on the list — defensive end Ricky Elmore — who accumulated 25.5 sacks from 2007-10.
While with the New England Patriots, Bruschi — appropriately nicknamed “Full Tilt” — became a national hero when he returned to the field midway through the 2005 season after suffering a minor stroke. He played only seven months after doctors repaired a small hole in his heart that was the cause of his stroke.
“Getting back to playing football was a big part of why I wanted to come back, but how am I supposed to tell my sons (Tedy Jr., Rex and Dante) later in life that any obstacle can be overcome, that you can achieve anything in life, if I don’t live my life that way?” Bruschi was quoted as saying in a USA Today article.
“I want to draw off my experiences on how I lived my life and be able to teach them from what I’ve experienced. For me to be able to teach them about life and overcoming any challenge they’re presented with, I have to live my life that way.”
His sons — and all of us — can not have a better role model.
Bruschi, who grew up in an impoverished area of Sacramento, overcame a difficult upbringing after his parents divorced when he was 3. He didn’t start playing organized football until 14. He ran track, wrestled and lettered in football his last two years, when he was noticed by small colleges and former Arizona coach Dick Tomey.