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Pats get Super Bowl rings at owner's home

BROOKLINE, Mass. (June 13, 2005) -- Tom Brady stepped out of the back seat of the long gray Maybach at his employer's estate, walked across the red carpet, and looked forward to picking up the heaviest Super Bowl ring in history.

"This is the best night of the year," the New England Patriots' quarterback said Sunday after a valet drove away with the luxury car.

It's also becoming routine.

Robert Kraft stood at his front door and greeted players, coaches, team officials and their family members for the second straight June. In his massive backyard, a large tent was set up for the private dinner and ring presentation. Eight plasma screen televisions hung from the tent's ceiling showing team highlights.

The presentation of the 4.06-ounce rings -- earned with a 24-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in February -- came toward the end of the evening.

Each 14-karat white gold ring has 124 diamonds with a carat total of 4.94, but the team did not disclose the rings' value. Each one weighs a quarter ounce more than last year's rings, which the club said were worth more than $15,000 each.

The Patriots' first ring ceremony after the 2001 season was held at a downtown Boston hotel. The last two have been at Kraft's home.

"Being able to connect with (players) at our home and to give them these rings and see what it means to them, it's pretty special," Kraft said.

He gave one of his longest hugs to Brady, who arrived with actress girlfriend Bridget Moynahan.

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi was the only player to see one of the rings before the night, because he pushed Kraft to show one to him.

"I tried to talk him out of it, but he used good salesmanship," Kraft said.

Bruschi, who had a minor stroke in February, wore his first two Super Bowl rings and said he has not yet decided whether he will play next season.

He attended team meetings, but didn't practice during the team's three-day mandatory minicamp that ended June 11.

"I'm just taking my time, making sure things are right and living one day at a time," Bruschi said. "The organization has been so supportive for me. I'm not pressured with any time table. My family and I are worried about my health and we're just making sure I'm getting better."

Richard Seymour also showed up after holding out of minicamp, an absence coach Bill Belichick called "unexcused."

It has been speculated that the Pro Bowl defensive end is unhappy with his contract.

"I'm not discussing anything like that," Seymour said. "It's a night of champions and I'm here to celebrate as a champion and hopefully we can celebrate again."

"He RSVPed he was coming and he's a terrific guy," Kraft said. "We're happy he's here."

Nearly all the players from last year's team attended, including cornerback Ty Law, who missed most of the season with a foot injury and was released in the offseason. He remains unsigned.

Former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, now the coach at Notre Dame, and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, now coach of the Cleveland Browns, both attended.

Linebacker Mike Vrabel missed last year's ceremony because he was graduating from Ohio State.

"I always say that the people who never won (championship rings) are the people that want to wear them," he said. "I'm not a big jewelry guy."

Running back Corey Dillon and defensive tackle Keith Traylor, now with Miami, got the biggest rings, size 17. The smallest was a size 6½ pinkie ring.

Dillon played seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals without ever playing in a playoff game before coming to the Patriots in a trade before last season.

"There's a lot of things in my life that ain't been bright, but tonight this is a bright spot in my life," he said. "Bringing me in and just letting me be one of the guys is an awesome feeling. I put this up there with the birth of my child, my wedding."

Now, the team is ready to forget last season and focus on defending its crown.

"It is definitely a closure to last year," Brady said. "We celebrated more than we care to and now it's on to other things."

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