The excitement and frills that come with a Super Bowl title have not died down yet, but it's time for the New England Patriots to get back to work.
This was the message quarterback Tom Brady and linebacker Tedy Bruschi delivered Wednesday from the turf of CMGI Field, the new home the team will move into next month. Brady, Bruschi and nearly all of the players on New England's roster are back in Foxborough for the voluntary offseason workout program, which began on Monday.
Despite a long season that ran into February, the players want to be back.
"When you win something like [the Super Bowl], there is certainly more confidence," Brady said. "At the same time, you understand that you are the hunted now. You have to go out and step it up because you are going to get everyone's best shot.
"This is where it starts for us. It's a new season and a fresh start. According to the standings we are 0-0, right in the middle of the pack with everyone else. A lot of other teams have already put their seasons behind them, and we have to do that too. We know what made us successful, and now, how can we build on that?"
He's ready to get back to work, Bruschi said the real hunger for the players starts to build at the start of training camp, when the season is around the corner. Still, coming in and seeing what CMGI Field soon will have to offer had Bruschi excited. Before meeting with media members, he strolled out to midfield bent down and ran his hands over the new field.
"I look forward to coming back more than I have any other year because there is only one team that comes back feeling good about themselves, only one team that wins the Super Bowl," Bruschi said. ".I'm like a kid in a candy store right now. The locker room is the biggest locker room I've ever seen. I can't wait to move in there in May. It makes you excited to get back to work.
"Don't get me wrong. Foxboro Stadium wasn't state-of-the-art, but I loved the place. It was good to us, and I was happy to send it out the way we did. But this is a new place, and I was sort of talking to the field saying, 'I'll see you next year.'"
The first time they take the field for a regular season game next year will be on Monday Night Football on Sept. 9, the opener for both teams.
"This is my third time in here, and each time I come there is more stuff in place," Brady said. "It's quite a far cry from Foxboro Stadium, and it's going to be incredible to open up on Monday night under the lights. This place will be going crazy."
Before they get to that first game, the Patriots have plenty of ground to cover. With all the extra activities, including throwing the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park Monday and visiting with the President at the White House yesterday, getting caught up in distractions could be easy.
"For me, there is a ton to work on," said Brady, who visited Disney World and was a judge at the Miss America Pageant, among other appearances after the Super Bowl. "I'm also realizing there are a lot of distractions, a lot of things that could take away from what I'm trying to be as a player. One thing that is really important for me is to be a great quarterback. I'm not going to let anything get in my way of that.
"The best thing I've done in the last few months is to win the Super Bowl. That was more fun than anything. Why would I want to go and do anymore pageants? That's fun, but it's not like winning the Super Bowl."
Which is not to say the last couple days in particular have not been enjoyable.
"It has been quite a week," Bruschi said. "I was like a kid two days ago at Fenway Park throwing the first pitch. Jason Varitek caught my ball, and he went 3-for-3 and had a great day, which I felt I might have been a little bit of the reason for that.
"Then you have something like yesterday. I was just a little awestruck by being next to the most powerful man in the world."
Brady was asked about the potential distraction of Drew Bledsoe's situation with the team. It seems very unlikely that the franchise quarterback since 1993 will be back in 2002 after an injury forced him to sideline and Brady played him out of a starting job. Brady said he kept in touch with Bledsoe a few times in the offseason, but he couldn't afford to worry about Bledsoe's future with the team.
"He was there [at the White House] yesterday, and it was great to see him," Brady said. "But like I said, I have enough to worry about for myself. I've got to worry about being ready to go."