It was January 19, 2002 when my brother, his wife, myself and Sarah bailed out of the truck and out onto Route 1 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Snow had been steadily and unexpectedly falling all day long and we had been stuck in the sea of cars for far too long. We could see the lights of the stadium up ahead on the hill, Foxboro Stadium was a meager place, definitely a relic in present day NFL standards. It was the first time in my life that I was attending a New England Patriots Football game. I had been a fan for a long time, through thick and thin, good seasons and bad. My childhood hero, Drew Bledsoe was down and out and all of our hopes and dreams rested on a young quarterback named Tom Brady.
I'll never forget what I experienced that night in Foxboro, Mass. What many would forever know as "The Tuck Rule Game" and those who were there would always remember as "The Snow Bowl." We watched a miracle that night as snow fell throughout the game, more than 5 inches accumulating on the ground, and Vinatierri kicked two impossible Field Goals. I have yet, in my entire life, to remember a time when I'd seen more grown men crying at once. Our team had won and were on their way to the AFC Championship against Pittsburgh and later their First Super Bowl Win. Playing Middle Linebacker for our New England Patriots was one Tedy Bruschi. It was his 6th season as a Patriot, the heart and soul of the defensive line. An unselfish player who played a majority of his 13 years without the use of an agent and always choosing the love of the game over money.
This past Monday I had the honor and extreme pleasure of guiding one of the most memorable hikes of my entire life. Randy Pierce, the 2001 Patriots Fan of the Year, asked me to be the trip leader of a once in a lifetime opportunity to hike with Tedy Bruschi himself. And so it was...
Sarah, Kyle and I met up with Randy Pierce and his wife Tracy at the Tilton Diner parking Lot in Tilton, NH at 7:30 AM. Randy was the 2001 Patriots Fan of the Year and is the proud captain of the 2020 Vision Quest. An organization dedicated to raising funds for Guiding Eyes for the Blind and The New Hampshire Association for the Blind. It was a week ago when Randy called me to ask me to guide this group of hikers which included a very special guest. He trusted my knowledge of the area in picking the perfect hike as a way to have an amazing time, while showcasing Randy and Quinn's many challenges while on the trail and still maintaining a White Mountain feel. I immediately said yes, without hesitation, yet didn't hold my breath that this would actually take place. Not many people are afforded the opportunities to go out on a hike, and guide, their childhood/adolescent heros. So it was at 7:30am that our special guest, Tedy Bruschi himself, showed up at the diner that I finally pissed myself with great joy that yes.. it was going to happen.
This past Friday, Kyle and I pre-scouted New Hampshire's Belknap Range. A mountain range settled along the shores of New Hampshire's Lakes Region that truly is the hidden gem of New Hampshire hiking. A talented and dedicated group of volunteers maintain the trails in this range with very little fan fare and by far a lack in use compared to the over-used and abused White Mountains. I knew this would be the perfect place for us to venture out and on Friday Kyle and I proved it so. With no snow on the trails and minimal mud; a wide range of moderate challenge that would surely work us all and showcase Randy and Quinn's abilities, Kyle and I were confident that the right choice had been made despite Randy's preference for an above tree-line adventure in the still ice coated whites.
Along the way to Belknap Mountain, Tedy scared a few grouse out of the trees. The loud noise these birds make upon take-off tends to scare any hiker on the trail. Tedy was no exception, quickly stopping and jumping back followed by the raising of his hiking poles in ready defense. We got a great chuckle about this. As Tedy continued to lead the group through this section, we started to hike the wrong way. I corrected him and told him the trail went to the right (where the grouse went) and he simply smiled and said, "I just learned what a camelback was! Why am I leading?!" He continued to do a great job leading the group down to the next trail junction where a mish-mash of the group would take turns leading. The basic idea between all that we've hiked today is that everyone in our group had time for one on one discussion with everyone in the group. I got to hang with Tracy and talk to her, I had private time with Randy and Quinn, again with Sarah and of course more with Tedy. Everyone had time just as this which really helped bring our group together and of course enjoy the trek that much more.
For More Please Visit: http://frontrow.espn.go.com/2011/05/bruschi-tackles/
Also Tedy's Blog: http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/nfl/columns/story?columnist=bruschi_tedy&id=6517664
Randy's Blog: http://www.2020visionquest.org/Blog/?p=988