Thursday, Jan. 31
Went to the NFL Media Party last night. It was held at New Orleans Place, a mall adjacent to the Super Bowl. If you like good food, this was the place to be. The entire mall is lined with tables being manned by restaurants from all over New Orleans. Each of them serves one of their specialty dishes to passer-bys. Of course, this being the Crescent City, fully-stocked bars accompanied the food stations making it an orgy of food and drink – Bacchus would have been proud.
This event wasn't as much a place for stargazing as other events. The big media muckety-mucks are at the more exclusive parties around town (read: big-time TV types). Who needs them? More food for me (and more Hurricanes for Shane).
Speaking of Shane Donaldson, he made a good comeback from the night before. He and Bryan Morry visited Harrah's Casino and I guess Shane was luckier there than at Pat O'Brien's on Tuesday. That, however, did not prevent him from falling asleep during Patriots.com Radio today and hitting his forehead on the microphone. No, I'm not kidding.
Player availability was at 8:15 this morning. Belichick, Milloy, Brady and Bledsoe were podium talkers. The rest were at their designated tables. Originally, they had Bledsoe set up at a table and of course after last night's announcement, it was swarmed with media looking for the "disappointment interview." Seeing the situation was a mess, the team made the decision to move Bledsoe to the podium. Did they actually think a manageable amount of media would gather around him? Say what you want about Bledsoe as a quarterback, but as a representative of the New England Patriots, he's still the man. Yeah, I know, this is a team of players all contributing without any superstars looking for attention, but Bledsoe is still the man and he deserves that type of treatment when it comes to stuff like this.
Now that the Brady/Bledsoe decision is in the books, there really wasn't any news to be had. I sat down with Brock Williams. Why, you ask? I wanted to talk to someone who had to sit and watch this season transpire and see what he thought.
Williams was a third round draft pick out of Notre Dame who got hurt during mini-camp and then put on injured reserve for the season. I could tell he's got that cornerback swagger but he admits not being able to show what he can do on the field has somewhat kept him quiet. If there's something good to make out of being sidelined before even getting a chance it's that "I now truly realizes how much I love football," he said.
That's good, because one of the criteria for being a Belichick-style football player is a love for the game. If this season helped Williams in that regard it will bode well for him next season when he tries to crack the line-up.
The big buzz around the office today was the arrival of sponsors and families. The Patriots are using seven hotels to accommodate everyone being sent down. Things are really heating up in terms of making sure everyone is happy when they get here and our marketing department is in charge of that. I don't envy them. Picture trying to keep a classroom of first-graders in line on the last day of school. That's how excited people were when they arrived at their hotels. It was hard to focus on work knowing your significant other – in my case my wife Nikki – or other close relative was now in New Orleans with you. You want to immediately start having fun with them but the main reason we're down here takes precedence.
Tonight the Patriots are hosting a welcome party for all the guests. I remember the one back in '96. People were taking pictures of each other as well as with Bill Parcells. It was wild. For many it's just a dream come true and it shows on their faces. When the Patriots win on Sunday, it will make it even better if that's imaginable.