NEW ORLEANS - Still getting a grasp on what the New England Patriots accomplished in beating St. Louis 20-17 to win Super Bowl XXXVI, Head Coach Bill Belichick credited the team approach his players took to the game.
"This is the most unselfish group of players I've ever been around," Belichick said. "The odds have been against them all the way and a lot of people haven't believed in them, but those players and those coaches believed. They worked hard to achieve what they achieved last night."
Even with a team parade scheduled for Boston on Tuesday, the Patriots front office will start looking ahead to the future immediately. He hasn't had much chance to go into detail on specific issues, but Belichick admitted New England has to start working towards next season as soon as today.
"Unfortunately it is the reality of this season and this game that there are going to be some changes," Belichick said. "I'd love to be able to keep this team the way it is, but realistically that isn't totally possible. We are going to try and keep as many people as we can and keep the team together as much as we can, but it's not going to be exactly the same as it is this year."
Belichick offered much praise for Tom Brady, his Super Bowl MVP quarterback who led a two-minute drill that put New England in position for Adam Vinatieri's 48-yard, game-winning field goal.
"Nobody has worked as hard as Tom has, and nobody deserves it more than he does," Belichick said. "He has accomplished so much, and it's due to a lot of hard work and perseverance on his part."
Just hours after becoming the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl and the second-youngest to win game MVP honors, trailing only Pittsburgh's Lynn Swann, Brady still hadn't had much chance to sit back and soak in what the Patriots had accomplished.
He spent most of the night and early morning hours with teammates, friends and family at the Patriots postgame party.
"It's been pretty hectic since the end of the game," Brady said. "There might be some time when I'm sitting on the beach this week when I'll be able to think about it."
It's been a whirlwind year for the second-year player, who went from fourth-string to Super Bowl MVP in little more than a calendar year.
"So much has changed with being the starting quarterback," Brady said. "You are dealing with a lot of off the field stuff, and there are so many distractions when you get to this point. The main point is to continue to focus on the task at hand, and that is to win football games."
Next up for Brady will be dealing with the onslaught of media requests, cover shoots and endorsement deals sure to be fired his way. How will he be able to handle it?
"I'm working on it," Brady said. "This is new to me, so I'm kind of like a kite in the wind. It's hard to turn a lot of people down, and this has been a ton of fun. It's going to continue to get better because I know myself and my teammates are going to keep pushing on."
For now, he and the rest of the team will take some time to enjoy their memorable run to the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.