Twenty-three current Patriots celebrated Super Bowl triumph two years ago. One wallowed in ultimate disappointment. Of the two dozen members of the 2003 Patriots that played in Super Bowl XXXVI, only one played in the game as a member of the St. Louis Rams – linebacker and special teamer Don Davis.
The Rams entered that game as 14-point favorites and talking about a dynasty after having won their first Super Bowl just two seasons before. They waltzed into New Orleans with a 16-2 record just as this year's Patriots own.
And actually, it was current Panthers and former Rams wideout Ricky Proehl who can be heard on the Patriots Super Bowl XXXVI video using the word "dynasty" as the Rams run onto the field Louisiana Superdome turf.
"Oh God please … If that [word] is even mentioned, I think that person would be in big, big trouble around here," Davis said. "Bill Belichick does a great job of destroying all of that kind of hype and we really just concentrate on playing football. There is a such a feeling of humility around here. Nobody is bigger than the team. I don't see a hint of that. It's not the way this team is built and there would be no reason for it to be any different for this game."
Two years ago, though, it was a different experience for Davis. "From Week 1, that team in St. Louis talked about the Super Bowl. It was tough for 20 weeks saying, 'We're going to the Super Bowl, we're going to the Super Bowl.' You keep winning and winning, but get there and lose and it's 10 times worse.
"This team, we believe is one of the best teams, but the Super Bowl wasn't even mentioned or allowed to be mentioned until this week now that we'll be playing in the game," he said
So Davis now knows that it doesn't matter who is favored or pumped up by the media and the so-called experts.
"Going into that game, there was a lot of hype. You never really believe that your team buys into that stuff. But once we had lost, I remember the guys' faces and it was like, 'What in the world happened?' Looking back, I learned not to get overconfident and not believe anything that's said because anybody can be beaten."