FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Fifteen years ago, 60,190 New England Patriots fans celebrated their first AFC Championship Game at Foxboro Stadium when the Patriots scored a 20-6 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was New England's second AFC Championship, but the first at home in the franchise's 37-season history. Five years later, the Patriots claimed their first Super Bowl title in franchise history. Ten players played on both of those championship teams. On Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, the Patriots will honor four of those players as honorary captains for this year's AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. It is the fourth time in 16 seasons that the Patriots have hosted an AFC Championship Game, including the third at Gillette Stadium.
"Players that have played at home in a Championship Game will tell you how emotional and rewarding it is to play the game in front of your own fans," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "It took us 37 years before our fans had an opportunity to enjoy our first AFC Championship Game at home. Celebrating that victory at Foxboro Stadium was something that I will never forget. While the season didn't end the way we had dreamed, a core group of players from that team helped deliver our first Super Bowl Championship five years later and we are looking forward to honoring four members of both of those teams this weekend."
On Monday, the team revealed that they would announce each honorary captain individually, with the announcements spread over four days; Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Monday, the team introduced the first honorary captain as Troy Brown. He will be joined by three other teammates. All four of the honorary team captains were also a part of New England's first Super Bowl Championship team five years later when the Patriots defeated St. Louis 20-17 in Super Bowl XXXVI on Feb. 3, 2001.
"Getting to come back and representing the '96 team this time around, first of all it's a great gesture from Robert Kraft and the New England Patriots to have us come back and do that, " said Brown. "It will be fun for me to get out there and do the coin toss with them again. It's a special time. It's hard for me to believe so many years have passed by so fast. Reflecting back on '96, you think about all the failures you've had and all the great times you've had and all the other wins and stuff. I think about all the guys that I went to war with out in all those games and sweated with out there. It will be a special time for us and it will be great to see some of the guys come back too and enjoy this game this weekend."