For the second time in three years, the Patriots were given the red carpet treatment in downtown Boston for a special screening of their Super Bowl DVD. Several players exited limousines in front of the Loews Boston Common Theatre Monday night as dozens of onlookers cheered them on their way into the building.
As was the case in 2001, many of the starring performers in the video that followed were on hand. At least nine Patriots, including Troy Brown, Richard Seymour, Matt Light, Willie McGinest and Joe Andruzzi, signed autographs outside before settling in for a night critiquing themselves on the big screen.
"I haven't gotten any calls [from Hollywood]," joked Brown, who received rave reviews for his "work" in the famous United Way "Bingo" commercial earlier last season.
Warner Home Video's "Super Bowl XXXVIII Champions DVD" is a three-hour compilation of the season's events that is due to hit stores Tuesday. The company hosted a VIP reception before the screening, which consisted of about 30 minutes of highlights finishing with the dramatic Super Bowl win over Carolina.
Director/head coach Bill Belichick was also on hand, although he did not speak with the media before entering the theatre with his family. If he had, he likely would have fielded several questions regarding his decisions on some of the team's pending free agents.
Center/guard Damien Woody is probably the most notable name on that list, and it appears the five-year veteran will be playing elsewhere next season. The Patriots recently informed his agent, Ben Dogra, they would not place the franchise tag on him and Woody would be allowed to test the open market at the start of free agency on March 3.
As for those on hand, Brown and McGinest also were the subject of contract talk. Both are signed for 2004 but at relatively steep prices for players of their considerable experience level. Brown will enter his 12th season – all with the Patriots – but intends on playing out the final year of his deal.
"In this business, the only thing that is constant is change," Brown said. "A week after the Super Bowl and Antowain [Smith] was already gone. The only time it's a game is on the football field. As far as I know, I'm a Patriot. I'm under contract for one more year."
Brown is set to count roughly $4 million against the cap in 2004. For a 32-year-old receiver who has battled injury problems recently, that number might be too high for the team's liking. But Brown epitomizes professionalism and approaches the game in exactly the manner Belichick is looking for. The team likely will ask for some cap relief, but he'll likely return regardless.
"It depends on how the deal works," said Brown when asked about the possibility of re-doing his deal. "I can't say that I'd restructured for $20 an hour."
McGinest is set to count more than $5 million on the cap but is coming off arguably the best season of his 10-year career, going to the Pro Bowl for the first time in seven years. He's been amenable to contract restructurings in the past and at 32 could be a candidate to do so once again.
"If I restructure, it's going to be for the same [money]," he said. "It's not going to be anything that diminishes my contract. I'll move stuff around for them as long as I'm still getting the same deal. I don't think I'm one of the guys killing the cap. I've always worked with the Patriots organization and I'll continue to do so."
McGinest and Brown use the same agent, Gary Uberstine, and both said they were unaware of any contact between him and the Patriots.
Despite the contract talks, all the players were upbeat and excited to watch the video. Most of them admitted they hadn't even had a chance to watch any replays of the game, at least not the important parts.
"I'm looking forward to sitting down and watching the whole game," Brown said. "The commercials, the halftime show, Janet Jackson … I'll be pausing it there for a minute."
Aside from a pair of sunglasses Brown wore to hide the remnants of his broken nose suffered in the Super Bowl, the players on hand looked very much the same as they did 22 days ago when Adam Vinatieri split the uprights in the final seconds. The one glaring exception was Light, who sported a haircut and apparently took a weed whacker to his infamous goatee.
"I had to get rid of it," Light said with a smile. "It was more of a safety issue than anything else. It was getting to be a fire hazard."