Blast from the Pats: Todd Rucci

(First in an ongoing series that will highlight former Patriots players, their memories with the team, and the lives they currently lead.)

Player: Todd Rucci

Position: Offensive guard

Years with Patriots: 1993-99

Career stats: Played in 85 games, with 75 starts

College: Penn State

Current residence: Lititz, Pa.

Occupation: Financial planning with professional athletes (Susquehanna Bank)

Family: Married (wife Stacy) with two children (Hayden, Nolan)

Life after the Patriots: “After retiring, the banker who was handling my financials asked if I’d be interested in working with him, specializing in pro athletes. There was some arm twisting and some very clear lines on my end that if we’re going to this, we need to do it right because from what I had seen, no one had done it right. We launched the private banking sports division close to six years ago and it’s been great. We have a wealth of good clients, from young, to mid-career, to retired, from starting quarterbacks to free agents, and everybody in between. It’s a good mix and I really enjoy it.”

Settling in Lititz: “My wife is from Lancaster County, we had dated at Penn State, and when we started talking about settling down and raising kids, we wanted to be close to her family and my family. It was probably me more than her, as she didn’t feel like coming back to her old stomping grounds. We absolutely love it. It’s a different speed, but it’s close enough to different cities. The fishing is great, the hunting is great, the schools are great, and the quality of life is fantastic.”

Memories as a Patriot: “I talk to [Drew] Bledsoe almost weekly and we always laugh about different times. One of the biggest for us was when we made that run in 1996, and just the feeling of the first time the Patriots were getting back into it and being a team to be reckoned with. The Fog Bowl against Pittsburgh with Curtis Martin going crazy. Then the Jaguars game for the AFC Championship, and knowing after the game that you were playing in the Super Bowl. The program kept growing after that and it was neat to be a part of that. I remember what it was like my rookie year in 1993, between ownership and the change with Mr. Kraft coming aboard, and three different head coaches – [Bill] Parcells, [Pete] Carroll, and [Bill] Belichick. You see where it is now, and knowing you were a minor blip on the screen, it was neat to be a part of something like that.”

How being an NFL player has helped him in his career: “I think it’s the No. 1 asset. There are a lot of financial advisors out there, and I don’t think there is anyone with that magic investment. Where I can make a difference is knowing what players go through, what it takes throughout the season, the personal end, what they need and what they want, and differentiating between the two. You try to let them understand that this NFL time in their life is brief and they need to capture as much as they can. The odds are that they’ll be retired in three-and-a-half, four years. At that point, you’re in your late 20s and you have the whole rest of your life to live. That’s the hardest uphill battle, making them realize you won’t always wear a jersey.”

Being known as a Patriot: “Part of coming back to Lancaster County was to get away from being known as Todd Rucci, New England Patriot. I just wanted to get back to being some old knucklehead who lives down the street. I got that, just a regular Joe. But whenever I get back to New England, like last weekend [for an alumni event], I remember how great it was to be a New England professional athlete. New England folks just absolutely love their athletes, period. It’s great to come back and talk to fans. I’m just a fat lineman who never got any headlines unless I gave up a sack, and I’m talking to people who remember everything, certain plays that only I would know. That sense of pride gets rekindled. I felt fortunate that I started my career as a Patriot and my last game was in a Patriots uniform. I was always proud to be a New England Patriot and the further I get away from being an active player, and looking at the role of the alumni, it’s more and more clear what that means. The Kraft family has done such a good job building the franchise and pride in New England for football. They’ve given fans something that everyone can embrace and I’m proud to have been part of something so great.”

Growing the Patriots family: “We need to build this and reach out to some of the former players, letting them know they are welcome, that they are part of something and not forgotten. That’s often the hardest hurdle for players. Often times, you’re not leaving on good terms – it hurts to get cut, or have an injury. Not many leave like Tedy Bruschi, to walk away when you wanted, how you wanted to. A lot of guys don’t have that chance and it takes time to get over how your career ended, the fact that somebody else took your place. It’s important that they know they’re still welcome as alumni.”