BROOKLINE, Mass. Tedy Bruschi flashed his three Super Bowl rings, an honor achieved by few NFL players.
That doesn't help him accept that his health may keep him from trying for a fourth.
''Football to me, it's something I love and it's something I'll always want to do,'' the Patriots linebacker said Sunday night, ''but I've got to think about my wife and my sons and just make sure things are right.''
Bruschi suffered a mild stroke last February, 10 days after New England beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 for its third NFL championship in four years. He has attended team meetings and worked out in the Patriots' weight room but didn't practice during the three-day minicamp that ended Saturday.
On May 21, he said that one of his options was sitting out the 2005 season and returning in 2006. He shed no more light on that Sunday, as he stood in the huge backyard of team owner Robert Kraft's home after a private dinner and ceremony during which players received their Super Bowl rings.
''It's been a tough year so far,'' Bruschi said three days after his 32nd birthday. ''It's been a roller coaster (with) my son being born, winning the Super Bowl, going through what I've gone through, having this stroke and so its been an emotional roller coaster.
''Coming here and then celebrating this tonight and celebrating the accomplishments of last year really makes me feel special.''
Defensive end Richard Seymour also attended the event after sitting out the mandatory minicamp. He had previously complained about his contract, but declined to talk about that or whether he would attend training camp that starts July 24.
Bruschi spoke publicly for the second time about the stroke and his uncertain future. Coach Bill Belichick has declined to discuss that, referring all questions to Bruschi.
The linebacker played a major role in the team's success and is grateful for its patience with him.
''The organization has been so supportive for me,'' he said. ''I'm not pressured with any timetable. My family and I are worried about my health and we're just making sure I'm getting better and that's the only thing we're focusing on right now.''
He declined to say what he's been cleared to do and said it was ''odd'' not to practice in minicamp. Chad Brown, a linebacker signed as a free agent, has said Bruschi has helped him learn the complex defensive system.
''I know the ins and outs like the back of my hand, I know what Bill's going to call before he calls it,'' Bruschi said.
His salary for 2005 is $850,000 and he's scheduled to make $1.35 million in 2006 and $1.7 million in the final year of his contract. That deal would be voided if he retires, but he could earn his full salary if the team puts him on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Bruschi has more important things to worry about.
''I'm just taking my time, making sure things are right and just living one day at a time,'' he said.
On Sunday, at least, things were right for Bruschi as a band played, spouses danced and teammates sang karaoke.
''I'm very emotional,'' he said. ''Shoot, I've been emotional for the last six months.''
Seymour, chosen for three Pro Bowls in his four seasons, also focused on the celebration and not his contract, a six-year, $14.3 million deal with two years left.
''I'm not discussing anything like that,'' he said about reporting to training camp. ''It's a night of champions and I'm here to celebrate as a champion and, hopefully, we can celebrate again.''
He said he loves the Patriots organization and planned to stay in shape, although he didn't say where he would work out.
Despite Belichick's statement that his absence from minicamp was ''unexcused,'' Seymour said it was ''very important'' to be at the ring ceremony.
''I know how to separate things,'' he said. ''I wanted to be here with my teammates.''
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