HOUSTON – With the Patriots set to take on the Carolina Panthers, several of the Charlotte-area media took some time to speak with Troy Brown and Richard Seymour – both South Carolina natives – to get their thoughts on the relatively new franchise's sudden success.
"When I was growing up, everyone was either a Clemson fan or a University of South Carolina fan," said Brown, who was born in Barnwell. "The closest pro teams we had were the Redskins and the Falcons. It would have been great to have a pro team in Carolina but we just didn't get much exposure to the NFL, especially where I grew up, which was a very rural area. It's a great asset to our area to have the Panthers."
Brown was then put on the spot when the questions turned to his family and friends, many of whom remain in the Barnwell area. Who would they be rooting for come Sunday?
"I'm sure my family and friends will be catching some heat," Brown said with a laugh. "But they're all Patriots fans. They might root for the Panthers to do well during the season, but on Sunday they'll be rooting for us."
Seymour, who was born in Gadsden, noticed the increased interest in the Panthers when he went home during the bye week before New England's divisional round game against Tennessee a few weeks ago. Seymour was impressed with the fan support and said he attended the Panthers first round playoff win over Dallas.
"I wish they were there sooner so I could have enjoyed some more games when I was a kid," Seymour said. "The area is much more into college sports, but they seemed to be into the Panthers pretty well when I was there."
Mum's still the word
The daily Tedy Bruschi health update offered little in the way of information. Speaking at the Patriots Media Day at Reliant Stadium, the linebacker, who was forced out of the AFC Championship Game with an apparent calf injury, said if the problem was "something he could manage" then he would be likely be able to go.
Bruschi added he hadn't done much on the field but Wednesday marks the first full-scale workout of the week after a day off on Tuesday.
Squeeze the breeze
Cornerback Ty Law, like the assembled media, was taken by the unseasonably cool weather in and around Reliant Stadium. The temperature sank from the low 70s on Monday to the mid-30s Tuesday with winds making it feel at least 10 degrees colder than that.
"I walked onto the field and I turned to someone and said they need to close the door," Law said. "I guess we must have brought the weather with us."
Law asked about his decision to introduce himself on "Monday Night Football" as "Ty Law, Aliquippa Quips." Some have speculated that he used his high school rather than using his college – Michigan – because of some ill feeling Law held against his alma mater. That's not the case.
"I was born and raised in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania," Law said. "I had some nice memories at Michigan and I always wish those guys well. I rooted for them in the Rose Bowl against USC. But I'll always be an Aliquippa Quip at heart, that's my home and that will always be my home."
Bling bling alert
Willie McGinest was among the many Patriots who was inspired two weeks ago when Bill Belichick decided to take his 2001 Super Bowl ring out of mothballs as his team was set to take on the Colts.
"It really fired us up," McGinest said of Belichick's motivational tact. "When he showed us the ring, everyone was ready to get out there and do whatever it takes. When he pulls out that ring it nullifies all of the hardships and pains you go through and it's all the motivation you need."
Taking Peyton's place
Backup quarterback Damon Huard received a great deal of credit after the Colts win for his work during the week of preparation acting as the scout team's version of Peyton Manning. Belichick cited his play as being instrumental in preparing the defense for the looks and audibles they would see against Indy's potent offense.
But after Manning tossed four interceptions, an Indianapolis sportswriter asked Huard if he threw during the week leading up to the game. "I threw a few out there," Huard said. "Don't forget, our defense is pretty good." …
A reporter asked Tom Ashworth to explain the differences between this trip to the Super Bowl to 2001. "That's simple, I'm playing this time. Last time I didn't get to play." Ashworth was a member of the Patriots practice squad during the 2001 postseason.