CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Beating a blizzard out of Boston Monday afternoon, the Patriots Super Bowl-bound charter flight landed in Phoenix around 3:30 p.m. MT.
Met by a hoard of media and fans on the tarmac, New England boarded busses to the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, where Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and team captains met with the media to kick off Super Bowl week in Arizona.
In a unique change after what's been a unique week for the New England franchise, Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft led things off.
The New England Patriots arrived in Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX and met the media at the team hotel on Monday, January 26, 2015.
"On behalf of the entire organization I want to express what an honor it is to be here to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl," Kraft said. "I know how difficult it is to get to this game and I appreciate the work of everyone who helps host the event. We are anticipating a great game against the defending Super Bowl champ Seattle Seahawks."
When Belichick stepped to the microphone, he took a moment to address the storm that was in the midst of pounding the heart of the Patriots fan base.
"I guess we're a step ahead of the storm that is about to hit or has hit New England. It's good to be ahead of that," Belichick said. "We wish the best to our fans and families back there that are dealing with that. I know that they'll show the toughness and the teamwork that they always do to work through these types of situations and our support is with them as theirs has been with us throughout the course of the year."
Belichick then went on to echo his boss' comments, thoughts he said in his opening press conference in five previous trips leading New England to the Super Bowl.
"It's a great honor and privilege for the New England Patriots to represent the American Football Conference in this great game," Belichick said. "I'm very proud of what they've done. We're very much looking forward to the week of preparation down here in Arizona. We know we're going to have our hands full with the Seattle Seahawks."
Prior to leaving Boston, Kraft, Belichick, Brady and other team captains took part in a send-off rally at City Hall with thousands of fans in attendance.
"It was fun today leaving Boston to see the support we got there. All the guys were pretty fired up," Brady said. "Just to get here to the site is great. There is nothing like it. It's going to be a fun week. I'm excited for the challenge. It's going to be a big challenge for us."
Belichick made a point to emphasize how impressed he is not only with the Seahawks team, but the man who leads Seattle into its second straight Super Bowl – Pete Carroll. The two are the only two coaches that Kraft has ever hired to lead the Patriots, Carroll as Belichick's predecessor in Foxborough.
"No way in a brief time I could express the amount of admiration and respect I have for that organization, in particular Pete Carroll. I think Pete's one of the great coaches in my time. We kind of came up together in the same vintage," Belichick said. "What he's done at USC and now in his five years with Seattle is beyond impressive. I've tried to study him closely and learn from many of the things that he and his organization have done. I've watched them build that organization very closely. Though we haven't competed with them since early 2012, it's very obvious to me now why they were the world champions last year and why they are here again."
"In short they do everything well most all the time. We're going to absolutely play our very best game of the season to be able to compete with them."
Belichick's praise was one thing, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
"I've tried to learn a lot from studying and observing many things from that organization," Belichick admitted.
Vereen and Sherman to play it up
The Patriots and Seahawks have to wait until Sunday evening to battle it out in Super Bowl XLIX. But New England running back Shane Vereen and Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman will get a chance to go at it in virtual sense on Tuesday night in Madden '15 in the Xbox One Game Before the Game. Former American Idol winner Jordin Sparks will host the event at the NFL Experience in downtown Phoenix.
Rookie center Bryan Stork was back on the practice field last week for the Patriots four practices in Foxborough. Stork missed the AFC Championship Game against the Colts with a right knee injury he suffered a week earlier against the Ravens.
"I think Bryan's doing everything he can to be back," Belichick said. "He's taking it day by day. Nobody's working harder than Bryan to get ready. He's made progress."
Belichick, Brady, Devin McCourty, Vince Wilfork, Dan Connolly and Matthew Slater all held press conferences Monday night at the Wild Horse. … Belichick said that 95 percent of what the Patriots will do this week as pre-Super Bowl preparation will mirror what the team has done in past trips to the Super Bowl, including previous trip to Arizona following the 2007 season. … Connolly has worked his way up from the practice squad to a starting job and leadership role as a team captain. As an offensive lineman who spends the bulk of his time working in anonymity of the shadows, Connolly admitted it was a unique experience standing on the stage next to Brady and others during the send-off rally. "It was exciting. It was a fun experience. It wasn't something I've ever done. It was something that I enjoyed doing and that I'll remember doing." … As happy as Brady was to be in town for the Super Bowl, he knows that happiness can only continue with a win in the big game. "Only one of two tams now that's going to feel good next week. I hope we're that team." … The full roster of Patriots players and coaches will be available Tuesday morning at US Airways Center for Super Bowl Media Day.