FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP) - Packed to capacity in the lower level on one side of Gillette Stadium on Sunday, Patriots fans watched replays from the AFC championship victory that put New England in the Super Bowl.
A few minutes later, those roughly 25,000 fans sent the players off in style.
Before a spirited crowd that filled approximately one-third of Gillette Stadium, the Patriots officially began their short journey to Indianapolis by attending a free send-off rally, addressing the fans and returning the appreciation that’s been bestowed upon them.
“This is it, right here.”
Following the 13-minute program on a stage constructed at the 50-yard line, the players skirted the lower level of seats on their way out of the stadium, high-fiving fans and filming the celebration along the way before boarding busses bound for the airport.
“We wish we could take all of you guys to Indy with us,” said Tom Brady, who will tie the record for quarterbacks with his fifth Super Bowl start. “Hopefully we’ll have a lot more people at our party next weekend.”
After re-watching Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff’s botched 32-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds that gave New England a 23-20 win over the Ravens last Sunday, the fans erupted as players filed into the stadium to their traditional entrance music.
“You guys are the reason why we’re in the spot we’re in, because we had home-field advantage throughout the end, and we were able to take advantage and now we’re in the Super Bowl,” said receiver Wes Welker. “That’s what it’s all about.
“I promise you all, all of these guys, with the way we’re going to play this next Sunday, we’re going to give it everything we’ve got out there and you’re going to be proud to support the New England Patriots.”
Linebacker Jerod Mayo touched on the difficult year endured by team owner Robert Kraft, whose wife, Myra, passed away July 20 after a battle with cancer. The team dedicated this season to her, wearing oval patches with the initials “MHK” on their uniforms right above their hearts.
Kraft, the final speaker, took the stage to chants of “MHK.”
“At the beginning of the season, (Kraft’s son and team president) Jonathan and I met with the team and told them that they would wear an MHK patch over their hearts,” Kraft said. “And they really dedicated this season to her and all the volunteers in America who make this country great.”View Entire Story
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