Jan. 30, 2004
Went to the welcoming party for family members last night at the NASA Space Center. Trent Adams did not get punched playing "Stump the Astronaut" but he did make friends with one who hails from Needham, Mass. I heard something about a trade for tickets to a 2004 Patriots game for helicopter flying lessons. Not bad.
This morning was the final press conferences before the game. No player access, just the two head coaches followed by Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Everything was held at the NFL Headquarters in the Hilton Americas. The room was huge and laid out much more formally than all the others this week. In the category of things-that-really-don't-matter-but-we-can't-help-but-paying-attention-to, I was watching how each coach reacted to their post-conference photo op with the Lombardi Trophy.
Many of you may recall that two years ago, Head Coach of the Rams, Mike Martz, fondled the trophy during his turn while Bill Belichick would not lay a finger on it. I, among others, took this as a sure sign the Patriots were a more focused team. Ridiculous, I know, but remember the category we're talking about.
Anyway, Belichick was first and did the exact same thing he did last time. Smiled for the camera, gave the photogs time to get their shots and left. No touch.
John Fox followed. Not only did he choose not to handle the hardware, he was even briefer than Belichick. In fact he almost looked embarrassed to even have to pose with something that wasn't his yet. If I was a Panther fan, I'd like that. No edge to be gained for the Patriots there.
Really, the psychological edge is nowhere to be found this time around. Belichick and Fox preach the same gospel and by now one would think the Panther players believe him every bit as much as the Patriots obviously believe their coach.
Tagliabue's state of the NFL address immediately dealt with the issue of playoff-successful coordinators not getting the same opportunity to interview for head coaching jobs as their less successful peers. I agree with the Commissioner's viewpoint which is success actually helps create opportunities rather than limit them even though those opportunities might be deferred for a relatively short time. Let's face it, before the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2002, Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis weren't really on many A-lists. Since then, combined with this year's success, they are hot and I think they will remain hot until those teams with openings in the future have had sufficient time to put them under the interview microscope. Sure, the Patriots could make another run for the playoffs next season and Crennel and Weis could be in the exact same situation. I guess that would kind of stink for them but at the same time, being a coordinator on a Super Bowl-bound team can't stink that bad.
The hotel and its "official Super Bowl retailer" had a special "sale" for the families of the Patriots and employees. The annual Bridal Sale at Filenes Basement had nothing over this one. It was as frenzied as a mongoose on a snake. People were rifling through T-shirts and caps like Channel-7 Boston had just issued one of their snow alerts and the usual panic-stricken mob was buying up batteries and milk at the local Stop & Shop.
Probably going to check out the big block party the City of Houston is holding downtown. I hear it's pretty cool. I'll let you know tomorrow.