BOSTON (CBS) – On the day Tedy Bruschi retired, Bill Belichick called him the perfect player. But his life has been anything but perfect. This year, on the Fourth of July, he suffered his second stroke.
“I ran to the high school where my boys go to school and as I was walking down to the field… I just had this weird sensation in my left arm and something wasn’t right,” Bruschi recalled.
“I was trying to pick the bag up that we had of equipment. I was picking it up, picking it up but it just wasn’t coming up the way I wanted it to. I yanked it with my right arm and my left arm got caught up in the rope and my left arm just came up like this and I had lost use of my left arm.”
When he noticed his speech was slurred, he knew what was happening.
Bruschi says he can remember his wife Heidi’s reaction. “I can remember her face still,” he said. “The most graphic thing about it I think to her was the facial droop.”
It was 14 years ago, 2005, when Bruschi suffered his first stroke. He came back and played four more years. So this time around the Patriots legend knew exactly what to do.
“Knowing from being a stroke survivor for 14, 15 years, we knew exactly what was going on, so these were classic warning signs,” Bruschi said. “Facial droop, speech slurred, arm weakness, we called 911 and we got to the hospital as quickly as we could.”
Bruschi said he was unsure returning the NFL after his first stroke was the right thing.
“I just knew when I came back the first time, five to ten years down the road it would just eat me alive if I didn’t at least try,” he said.
Bruschi is a top NFL analyst on ESPN. He’s also the founder of Tedy’s Team, teaching kids and families about stroke awareness.
“For me it was really therapeutic to get in front of them and talk about what happened because this is my first time on camera talking about it, it was my first time in front of a group of people talking about it and I was really happy to do so,” he said.
Bruschi runs six miles a day and he’s currently training for the Falmouth Road Race. He already ran the Boston Marathon this year.
“I’m blessed to be here and just be capable,” Bruschi said. “My neurologist told me after this second episode, my second stroke, he said ‘look at you, you don’t look like you’re a two-time stroke survivor, and you’re very lucky.’”