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“You’ve just got to put your head down and be determined to make it to the summit,” Fisher said.

The NFL contingent will be joined by Bryan Wagner of Exeter, Calif., and Ben Lunak of Grand Forks, N.D., who each lost a leg; Mike Wilson of Annapolis, Md., who struggles with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury; and Nancy Schiliro of Hartsdale, N.Y., who lost an eye.

The group will meet in New York on Monday to visit ground zero.

The 37-year-old Bruschi spent 13 seasons with the Patriots, winning three Super Bowls, before retiring in 2009. Days after playing in his only Pro Bowl in 2005, he suffered a mild stroke, but recovered to play the next season.

The 53-year-old Fisher parted ways with the Titans in January after 16 full seasons, going 147-126 and taking Tennessee to its lone Super Bowl appearance.

The 39-year-old Lewis played nine seasons with the Eagles and St. Louis Rams. He had at least 41 catches for three straight years from 2000-02.

Bruschi is already beginning to understand how people get hooked on hiking. The big climb hasn’t even started, and Bruschi suspects it might be the first of many mountains for him.

“I got in touch with some of my friends,” he said, “and said I may be close to getting addicted to this.”