Patriots Football Weekly's Editor-in Chief's daily journal from New Orleans
Monday, Jan. 28
Today actually started when the game ended. And what a game. You should have seen the look on those Steelers fans as the team bus drove out of Heinz Field. Justice.
We couldn't get back to Foxboro soon enough. A long night of preparing the Super Bowl preview issue for Patriots Football Weekly lay ahead. Now that we knew who the Patriots were going to play, we could throw out the preview already prepared on the Eagles just in case.
Got home around 3:30am and finally fell asleep around 4:00am. The adrenaline from the win was still with me that long after the game. Woke up around 5:45 and started packing for a week in New Orleans.
The scene at Foxboro Stadium was one of controlled chaos. Players had an early meeting and were bringing their luggage to be put on a truck ready to go to the airport. The mood was predictably upbeat. Big SUVs rolled up with music thumping and players emerged in various forms of dress ranging from Ted Johnson in his customary shirt and tie to Damien Woody still in his AFC Champion cap and T-shirt.
A funny scene took place while everyone was waiting for the buses to leave for Logan Airport. In the Patriots Pro Shop, fans were lining up before the store was even open to be among the first to get their AFC Champion merchandise. Soon after the doors opened, boxes of T-shirts arrived and were stacked by the back door of the store. Around the boxes, fans began to gather. It looked like hungry wolves eyeing dinner.
Just as the crowd reached critical mass, store manager Mike Perriello made the announcement that the T-shirts were being brought up front and to form a line by the cash registers. The rush to the front of the store was as if they were being given out for free. And of course, those who were closest to the boxes were now last in line.
The crowd outside the Pro Shop was growing in the meantime. Well-wishers were lined up behind bicycle fences waiting to see their team off to New Orleans. As each Patriot walked pass and boarded one of the four buses, huge cheers went up. By 10:30 or so, everyone was on board and the buses took off.
Separately, Head Coach Bill Belichick, and a few players went over to the Mass. State House for a rally. I'm not sure whose idea it was, but it was smart. Rather than hold up the team on its way to the airport, those going to the rally left a little early and met the rest at the plane. Minimize disruption as much as possible.
The plane ride to New Orleans was comfortable compared to the one to and from Pittsburgh. On that one, every seat was full due to a large sponsor contingent. For the Super Bowl, that group doesn't go until Thursday so the Monday plane had room to stretch – and after only getting around an hour sleep, most of us needed it.
A Dixie band greeted us at the airport in New Orleans and then it was back on the buses to the team hotel.
No sooner that the team arrived than the first media obligation began – a 4:30 press conference with Belichick and other selected players. Of course the topic du jour was the status of Tom Brady and of course, Belichick wasn't about to give any info out. Actually, he probably didn't have any to give. Until he sees how Brady practices on his sprained ankle, there's no reason to decide if it's him or Drew Bledsoe under center on Sunday.
That was pretty much it on this first day in New Orleans. Tomorrow is Photo Day at the Superdome when all the players and coaches are available for a media love-in. There will be a lot to talk about then. Right now, I need some sleep…