Kraft: Tedy 'someone who's very special'

BOSTON -- Hours after former linebacker Tedy Bruschi was announced as the 19th player elected to the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, owner Robert Kraft told reporters that the fan vote overwhelmingly fell in Bruschi's favor.

"I think he got 75 or 80 percent of the vote," Kraft said Tuesday.

Bruschi was one of three nominees for election, along with former coach Chuck Fairbanks and offensive lineman Leon Gray.

Kraft recalled standing in the team's practice bubble after Bruschi was drafted in 1996, taking a question from then-coach Bill Parcells about the team's third-round pick.

"Who's that Mexican guy?" Kraft recalls Parcells asking him. "That always stuck out."

Bruschi told reporters after being elected Tuesday that he planned to spend his entire career with the Patriots shortly after he was drafted, something that Kraft noted in his remarks.

"We're big believers in trying to keep certain players as long as we can. It's very hard," Kraft said. "In fact he was one of those guys who wanted to play here his whole career. He did it without an agent."

Bruschi suffered a stroke in February 2005 that kept him out of action through the first half of the following season. Kraft said Tuesday that he urged Bruschi to be cautious in his return to the field.

"When he wanted to come back to play, I insisted that he go visit a couple doctors, actually some doctors in New York that were not Patriots fans," Kraft recalled. "I told him certain decisions in life you measure nine times and cut once, and he followed all of that."

The Patriots will induct Bruschi and former broadcaster Gil Santos into the team's hall of fame on Aug. 11, and then honor Bruschi in a halftime ceremony on Sept. 12 against the New York Jets.

"He's someone who's very special," Kraft said. "We were so lucky to have Tedy and I'm happy that he's decided to make his home here."