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Never Give Up: My Stroke, My Recovery & My Return to the NFL Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 10, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Ten days after helping the New England Patriots win the 2005 Super Bowl, 31-year-old middle linebacker Bruschi suffered a debilitating stroke that left his future uncertain. Initially he planned to retire, but as he began to recover, a process that included surgery to repair the hole in his heart that precipitated the stroke, the lure of football beckoned. Bruschi learned much about stroke from doctors who treated him and cleared him to play again. After serious disagreement with his wife, he won her support for his return to the game only eight and a half months after suffering the stroke. His comeback initially met with much skepticism from the media and fans alike, but Bruschi writes that he was determined to overcome the obstacles thrown up by those ignorant of strokes. He also found a new audience of fans: stroke survivors across the country, many who wrote him letters in support. Bruschi, who went on to play the 2005 and 2006 seasons, is planning to be in the lineup this season as well and is now a spokesman for the American Stroke Association. His story is a compelling and convincing one that will appeal to both football fans and those affected by strokes. (Sept.)
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"Of course, Bruschi's story is an open-ended book. His goal was to tell his story, and raise awareness about the warning signs of strokes. Much like his comeback, Bruschi succeeds on both counts." (The Boston Globe, October 21, 2007)
John Ed Bradley was the rarest of college students, one who knew precisely what he wanted from adulthood. In the spring of 1980 he was slogging through the final semester of his senior year at LSU, looking to fill the emotional void he felt as an ex--football player while straining to distance himself from the game. When a Tigers coach offered him a position as a graduate assistant with the team, Bradley, despite having no job or prospects, turned him down. It was, he said, his "destiny" to be a writer. "I never doubted that playing football here was a privilege," Bradley, who had been an all-SEC center and a Tigers captain, told the coach. "But I also know that if I don't break from it now, I'll never break from it."
Bradley recounts the scene in It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium, a bracingly candid memoir about the joys and drawbacks of defining oneself as an ex-athlete. Bradley fulfilled his writerly destiny, going on to become a Washington Post sportswriter, a novelist and frequent contributor to SI. (It Never Rains is based on The Best Years of His Life, an essay he wrote for the magazine in 2002.) But despite his best efforts avoiding former teammates, leaving the room when the Tigers were on TV, refusing to let strangers in on the secret of his athletic past--the former LSU star never fully made the break from football. Having resolved not to become an ex-jock who can't let go of the glory days, Bradley discovered, as he moved toward middle age, that his fondest memories were also his most haunting. "There are things we never get over," he writes. "And for me football is one of them."
Bradley, the son of a high school coach, isn't the first athlete to be unnerved by the thought that life off the field isn't as simple as it is on it. But his honesty and unadorned, bittersweet style make It Never Rains a compelling rumination on the allure of football, for those who watch and those who play, and on the bonds of family, whether they're forged by birth or in the heat of August two-a-days. "All I ever wanted was to leave a pretty piece of writing behind," is how Bradley sums up his youthful dreams. He has. (Sports Illustrated, September 3, 2007)
Ten days after helping the New England Patriots win the 2005 Super Bowl, 31-year-old middle linebacker Bruschi suffered a debilitating stroke that left his future uncertain. Initially he planned to retire, but as he began to recover, a process that included surgery to repair the hole in his heart that precipitated the stroke, the lure of football beckoned. Bruschi learned much about stroke from doctors who treated him and cleared him to play again. After serious disagreement with his wife, he won her support for his return to the game only eight and a half months after suffering the stroke. His comeback initially met with much skepticism from the media and fans alike, but Bruschi writes that he was determined to overcome the obstacles thrown up by those ignorant of strokes. He also found a new audience of fans: stroke survivors across the country, many who wrote him letters in support. Bruschi, who went on to play the 2005 and 2006 seasons, is planning to be in the lineup this season as well and is now a spokesman for the American Stroke Association. His story is a compelling and convincing one that will appeal to both football fans and those affected by strokes. (Sept.) (Publishers Weekly, July 30, 2007)
"Of course, Bruschi's story is an open-ended book. His goal was to tell his story, and raise awareness about the warning signs of strokes. Much like his comeback, Bruschi succeeds on both counts." (The Boston Globe, October 21, 2007) "Bruschi's recreation of his illness is compelling, as is his rationalization of why he came back and his response to those who said he shouldn't." (Sports Illustrated, September 3, 2007) "His story is a compelling and convincing one that will appeal to both football fans and those affected by strokes." (Publishers Weekly, July 30, 2007)
Top customer reviews
While it may seem silly or odd for a grown man, I remember when I first heard Bru had a stroke. I sat down and watched a tape of the New England win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, at times teary eyed believing that Bru had seen his last snap on the football field. I thought there was no way he was going to be able to come back from a stroke. I consoled myself saying at least he got to play in four Super Bowls and was sitting on three Super Bowl rings on a team many consider a dynasty. Some great players, like Dan Marino, never won one. But I digress. Suffice it to say I am biased in this review. I am unabashedly a New England Patriots fan and an even bigger fan of Tedy Bruschi than I was before his stroke, if that's even possible.
In this book Tedy tells his story the way he wants it told, unfiltered by the media. It's about his stroke, the emotionally draining and frightening experience of his recovery, and his difficult decision to come back and play professional football. It's not about the Xs and Os of the game or recounting a season, but there is plenty about football, the New England Patriots, and what it means to be a professional football player. This is a can't miss read for any football fan.
This book is extremely well organized. While it is mainly about his recovery and return to football you learn a little about his childhood and growing up in a not quite impoverished, not quite middle-class, broken family in San Francisco. You learn a lot more about his home life and his wife and children and what it was like for them as he recovered from the stroke. And you learn a lot about what his teammates, the Patriots organization, and winning means to him.
Some of the highlights of the book include his impatience with his recovery and a bit of fear at ever regaining his vision and motor skills. It was clearly a tough road back. But the most revealing part of the book was his return to football. I was a fan who was totally jacked up that Bru was returning to the field and assumed that he and the Patriots organization did due diligence to ensure that there was no danger to him before taking the field. But one can never really know what an emotionally gut wrenching decision this was for his family, particularly his wife. Nor did I realize to just what lengths not only he, but his wife and Robert Kraft, went to to make sure it was the right decision.
He got multiple opinions from different doctors, not only at the insistence of his wife but the Patriots as well. Of course his wife didn't want him debilitated on the football field because she loves him. And the Patriots didn't either, and I'm sure they had his best interests in mind. But let's face it, the liability and bad publicity for the team that would have ensued had something bad happened would have been a severely damaging blow to the entire organization.
And while I followed some of the negative press about Tedy's return, I should have realized how that got to him and I never really knew that New England fans thought he was crazy and he got negative responses from Patriots fans as well. He tells, in great detail, just what an emotional, difficult road it was to get back on the football field.
I have screamed "Bru, Bru, Bru, Bru, Bru" in front of my television many, many times, but never so loud as I did when he returned to the field against the Buffalo Bills on a Sunday night in October 2005.
But the bottom line is that Tedy returned to football because he is a football player and that is what he does and it was clear from his doctors that he was in no significant danger. He also returned and felt pressure to perform well to be an inspiration to other stroke victims - not that everyone can necessarily fully recover from a stroke - some aren't as lucky as Tedy. But as Tedy puts it, for stroke victims, "who they are now, not what they were or hoped to be, is okay" using the words of Trisha Meili, the Central Park Jogger who was brutally raped, beaten and left for dead, and is one of his inspirations.
For Bru it could have been "who I am now, a devoted father and family man working in the front of office of the New England Patriots but not a football player, not what I was or hoped to be, a football player fighting to win a fourth Super Bowl, is okay." Bruschi realizes he was lucky in his recovery and sends out a message of hope, for those who aren't so lucky, to fight through, saying "what you make of your life afterward" despite any impairments you suffer from, is what matters.
Tedy also talks about football and how much winning means to him. Getting back to normal for him was to not think about his stroke anymore but just go out and do his best to help his team win games. His coming full circle was not having the media or fans have a pity party for him. One of the best stories he relays in the book was several games after his comeback and after coach Bill Belichick lost his father, the coach said:
"You know what I'm tired of? I'm tired of all the feel good stories about the Patriots. Bruschi is part of it, and I guess I'm part of it too. Do you know what would be a great feel good story? If we go out on Sunday and beat the Jets."
For the Patriots, and Tedy, that meant, "let's get back to normal," especially since they were, at least by the standards the Patriots as a team, struggling.
I could go on and on but I will end with two things. First, and least important, Tedy talks about how emotionally upset he was after the New England loss to Denver the year of his comeback, ending their two year run as Super Bowl champions and the chance to make history by winning three in a row. I'm glad he was upset because I was too. I was depressed, physically and mentally, for a week. I know it's silly but luckily I have friends who are PATS fans who are the same way. I always tell myself I shouldn't be upset because the players just go and cash their fat paychecks and don't really care one way or the other. It's good to know that it's not true all the time.
Second, and more importantly, a big reason Bru wrote this book was to educate people about strokes, especially their early symptoms so they can be caught as soon as possible and do the least damage, and to provide some inspiration for people who have suffered from strokes.
Tedy is an inspiration to us all.
She did skip or skim the sports sections of the book so it was a fast read. Overall she enjoyed it. I will pick the book up in the near future. I am a Patriot's fan so my takeaway on the book will certainly be different than my wife's. So from the perspective of a stroke victim it gets a thumbs up!!!!!!!!