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‘Four-timer’ Bruschi recalls first Super Bowl, birth of dynasty

 Tedy Bruschi will appear in his fourth Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Tedy Bruschi will appear in his fourth Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
From wire reports

He is one of six New England Patriots left from the team that went to the 1997 Super Bowl. Troy Brown, Willie McGinest, Ted Johnson, Ty Law and Adam Vinatieri are the others.

“We call ourselves the four-timers,” linebacker Tedy Bruschi said Wednesday. “We have a special fraternity. We recall that first Super Bowl, then going rock-bottom (5-11 in 2000, Bill Belichick’s first season). And then we dug ourselves out.”

Have they. After a three-day break following their 41-27 AFC Championship Game victory in Pittsburgh Sunday, the Patriots returned to Gillette Stadium Thursday to start preparing for Super Bowl XXXIX against the Philadelphia Eagles on Feb. 6. The Patriots will attempt to win their third Super Bowl in four years, something only the Dallas Cowboys did (1993, ‘94, and ‘96).

While players rested, the Patriots coaches, their bodies older but less bruised, have assembled the outline of their game plan.

“We’re going to get a little bit of it (Thursday),” Bruschi said. “But you don’t want to get yourself too excited and too geeked up yet. We’ve still got to go down to Jacksonville (Sunday) and then we’ve got a whole week left.”

The Patriots went to Philadelphia in week two last season and beat Donovan McNabb & Company 31-10.

It cleansed the sour taste in the Patriots’ mouths after the Bills crushed them 31-0 at Buffalo in the season opener, five days after Belichick dumped four-time Pro Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy when Milloy refused to take a pay cut.

That seems like a long time ago. Then, the Patriots were a team adrift, wondering which team they were more like – the one that won the 2002 Super Bowl or the mediocre, defenseless bunch that finished 9-7 and out of the playoffs the next season.

Now that that question has been answered, someone asked Bruschi how his Patriots compare to other dynasties such as the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s, the San Francisco 49ers of the ‘80s and the Cowboys of the ‘90s.

Bruschi, who grew up in Northern California, talked in brief generalities about the Cowboys and 49ers. But when asked about the Steelers – who won four Super Bowls in six years – he said, “They’re before my time. You’re asking me about the Patriots. I’ll let some team in the next decade talk about us.”

But he didn’t shy away when asked about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who, according to Sports Illustrated, had a 103-degree fever and chills last Saturday and had to be administered fluids intravenously.

“Joe Montana (of the 49ers) is the best quarterback of his day,” Bruschi said. “I think we’ve got the best quarterback of today.”

For an undersized linebacker (6-foot-1, 247 pounds) who some never thought could survive a 16-game season as an NFL starter, Bruschi is truly in his glory days. Not only was Bruschi AFC Defensive Player of the Week for forcing two Indianapolis fumbles in the divisional playoffs, he was profiled in Sports Illustrated before that game and on the magazine’s cover last week.

Mitchell’s mouth makes mayhem

Freddie Mitchell’s big mouth struck again.

Philadelphia’s other loquacious receiver – the one without the Pro Bowl pedigree and ankle injury – offended some Patriots when he questioned their secondary in a television interview.

Mitchell, a starter only because All-Pro Terrell Owens is hurt, said he just knew the numbers – not the names – of New England’s cornerbacks.

He singled out Rodney Harrison, saying he “has something” for the veteran safety.

“It just shows he doesn’t have respect for us,” Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel said Friday, responding to Mitchell’s comments from a day earlier.

The Patriots’ defensive backs will see Mitchell up close when the defending champions meet the Eagles in the Super Bowl.

“You have so many young guys nowadays, so many young guys that don’t have respect for the game,” Harrison said. “Some people are just immature. Some people really haven’t experienced certain things.”

Around the league

The Dallas Cowboys fired assistant coach Jim Jeffcoat, ending a 19-year relationship between the team and the former first-round draft pick. Jeffcoat, who had one year remaining on his contract, coached defensive ends for the past five years. … Former Packer Edgar Bennett was hired as Green Bay’s running backs coach. … Buffalo cornerback Nate Clements was added to the AFC Pro Bowl team to replace injured Baltimore cornerback Chris McAlister. … Tennessee hired Ray Sherman as wide receivers coach.

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