Bruschi two draft spots away from being with Carolina

If New England did not take Tedy Bruschi in the third round of the NFL draft in 1996, Carolina would have

If New England did not take Tedy Bruschi in the third round of the NFL draft in 1996, Carolina would have

Former Carolina Panthers general manager Bill Polian, ESPN’s best hire to analyze how a team prepares for an NFL draft, recounted his frustration today over former Arizona football player Tedy Bruschi getting picked before his team’s selection in the 1996 draft.

Polian, speaking on the set with Bruschi, a fellow ESPN analyst, talked about when he and former Panthers coach Dom Capers traveled to Tucson to meet with Bruschi and watch him work out before the draft. Polian said Bruschi was one of his primary targets.

“I remember our owner (Jerry Richardson) saying, ‘How are we going to get this guy, Bruschi?'” Polian said. “I told him to not worry, that we will get Bruschi in the third round. Word got out and the Patriots took him.”

Bruschi, who played as a defensive end with the UA, was selected by New England as the 86th pick overall, two spots before Carolina’s spot in the third round.

Carolina was relegated to take former Virginia Tech defensive tackle J.C. Price with the 88th pick. Price, an All-American with the Hokies in 1995, never played a down in the NFL after failed attempts with Carolina and the Arizona Cardinals.

Bruschi, a consensus All-American in 1995 who holds the UA record with 52 sacks, went on to win three Super Bowls with New England. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Bruschi is a member of New England’s 50th Anniversary Team.

Polian, also an accomplished general manager with Buffalo and Indianapolis, and Bruschi will comment for ESPN on the NFL draft starting tonight with the first round. Bruschi talked during pre-draft shows this afternoon about how he found about his third-round selection in 1996 by New England.

“We were sitting in our apartment in Tucson and I saw my name on the ticker on the bottom of the screen,” Bruschi said. “I said that I thought I saw my name as the 86th pick overall to New England. We had to wait for the ticker to start over again to find out … 1 … 2 … 3 …

“(Former New England coach) Bill Parcells called me before it got to No. 86. He told me they picked me and that I would play middle linebacker. He then handed off the phone to my position coach, Al Groh, just like that.”

Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner

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