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Patriots return home to throng of cheering fans

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) _ The New England Patriots were exhausted after winning their third Super Bowl title in four years, but they got a second wind Monday when they arrived at Gillette Stadium and saw a throng of about 2,000 screaming fans.

``We never get tired of this, and never get tired of seeing the fans and making them happy and giving them something to cheer about,'' said Troy Brown, who played receiver, defensive back and returned punts in New England's 24-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Many players immediately made their way to the barriers holding back the fans to shake hands and sign autographs.

Offensive lineman Matt Light, who made a fashion statement last year by getting off the team bus wearing a bath robe, carried the Lombardi Trophy without a robe this year, but quickly donned one to keep up what he called a ``tradition.''

Receiver Deion Branch, who was named MVP after catching a record-tying 11 passes in the Super Bowl, captured the scene on a video camera.

We started out shaky, scared a couple of people, but we pulled it off,'' he said.Just to go back-to-back, that's big, that's hard.''

Fans, some of whom waited four hours on the unseasonably warm winter day, chanted Dynasty,'' and held up signs that read3 and countin''' and ``Welcome to our three ring circus.''

Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, who accepted the Cleveland Browns head coaching job, got off the bus wearing last year's Super Bowl ring.

This is a great win for us, we were able to win back-to-back, which not many teams in the NFL have been able to do,'' he said.It's tough that we are going to break it up but that's the nature of the game.''

Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis also will leave for Notre Dame.

Owner Robert Kraft, who took a congratulatory call from President Bush on Monday, compared Super Bowl wins to having children.

It's like having another beautiful child,'' he said.Each child is special in its own way and I hope we keep having children.''

Quarterback Tom Brady did not return with the team to Foxboro. Instead, he headed for New York for an appearance on ``The Late Show with David Letterman.''

I've heard people that have lost Super Bowls say that's the toughest defeat they've ever had,'' he said.Hopefully, we don't have to experience much of that.''

The audience laughed, then Brady added, ``We haven't yet.''

And the celebrations are not over yet. The team will be welcomed back in Boston on Tuesday with a ``rolling rally'' through city streets fashioned after a similar parade last fall for the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

The Patriots will be on board a dozen World War II-era amphibious duck boats normally used to haul tourists around Boston. But with the Charles River frozen over, the parade route will stick to the streets and will not include the waterborne cruise that the Red Sox enjoyed after their historic win.

The ``rolling rally'' concept gives the public closer access to the players than a stationary rally.

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