FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The Patriots will celebrate the return of football when they open the preseason Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium. The celebration will include fans participating in the pregame ceremonies, thousands of Pop Warner participants celebrating the start of their season and a pregame flyover.
As part of a league-wide "Back to Football" celebration, the Patriots have invited more than 80 Patriots fans to participate in a special on-field presentation before the game. The fans -- including season ticket holders, season ticket wait list members, Patriots ProShop customers, Patriots Football Weekly subscribers and Twitter followers among others -- will be be dressed in Patriots jerseys and run out of the players' tunnel onto the field, where they will remain for player introductions. Patriots players will then recognize the fans when the team takes the field. The first-time opportunity is a thank you from the Patriots and the NFL for the fans' support throughout the offseason.
Also, as part of the "Back to Football" celebration and in partnership with the NFL and USA Football's Youth Football Month, the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation will host more than 2,500 youth from eight New England Pop Warner programs at the game. The children will celebrate the start of their Pop Warner season by watching their favorite NFL team get "Back to Football."
Wilmington, Massachusetts native Jennifer Joy will sing the national anthem, at the end of which four jets will conduct a stadium flyover.
Pop Warner groups hosted by the Patriots on Thursday night:
Brookline Pop Warner - Brookline, MA
Newton Pop Warner - Newton, MA
Suburban Amateur Football League - South Hadley, MA
Walpole Youth Football - Walpole, MA
Westford Pop Warner- Westford, MA
Winchester Pop Warner - Winchester, MA
Oakwood Raiders - Pawtucket, RI
Southern New Hampshire Steelers - Pelham, NH