9/11 attacks had unique impact on former Patriots Super Bowl champ Joe Andruzzi

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Former New England Patriots guard Joe Andruzzi and his family were heavily impacted by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Andruzzi – a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots – had three brothers who were New York City firefighters and his father was a New York City policeman. Andruzzi’s brother Jimmy was a first responder at the north tower when the south tower collapsed. 

He told ESPN back in 2011 that he made it down from the 27th floor with little time to spare.

Offensive guard Joe Andruzzi #63 of the New England Patriots during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 31, 2004 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Pats 34-20.
(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

“I didn’t think they’d be up for it — [and] they weren’t at first,” Andruzzi said on “The Zach Gelb Show” last year. “They didn’t want any publicity for themselves, especially my brother who was in the tower. He had a battle with survivor’s guilt, remorse, and it was a very tough time for him. Just being by his side and helping him through that.

“I talked to him and I said, ‘God didn’t take you that day. God chose you to do more on this Earth.’ I said, ‘I don’t care if you go out there. It doesn’t matter to me…  but it’s going to matter to a lot of people when you stand out there in your uniform. It doesn’t matter what your name is on your back. You’re standing out there and representing a whole lot more people than you can ever imagine.’”

Andruzzi recalled that there were two American flags taped on the wall when the Patriots were heading out of the tunnel. He said that he ripped them off and carried them when he ran out onto the field. To this day, Andruzzi’s gesture serves as one of the most memorable post-9/11 tributes in all of sports.

Prior to the Patriots-New York Jets game at Foxborough Stadium, New England Patriots’ offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi (far right), and his three New York City firefighter brothers, as well as their father (third from left), participate in a ceremony in memory of the people lost on September 11.
(Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

“It was a lot of butterflies — probably more butterflies and a different feeling that day than every Super Bowl I played in,” Andruzzi recalled. “It was tough to go out there. It was tough to get back out there. But I put it in my mind that these couple hours – three, four hours – I’m going to help people get their mind off things. They’re here to cheer us on. To represent [them] and to know we’re going to go out there and get their mind off things was rewarding for us to go out there and continue our work.”

The Jets defeated New England, 10-3. The Patriots fell to 0-2 on the season, but they managed to finish with an 11-5 record and they won the Super Bowl that season led by quarterback Tom Brady.

“There’s nothing more I cherish than going out there and having [my family] there for that Super Bowl win and holding that trophy up with them,” Andruzzi said last year. “They’re a part of that trophy as much as myself, my teammates, and their families. It’s a long, grueling season, but that season was especially long and grueling for me.”

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