After so many Super Bowl appearances in recent history, you might think that New England Patriots fans would be tired of seeing their team head to the Big Game. Including 2019, that’s nine since 2002, four in the last five years, and three in a row. By now, it might be old hat. Rote. Not special.
Anyone thinking that was proven dead wrong on Sunday morning, as the Patriots held a send-off rally that had the atmosphere of a full-on game. An estimated 35,000 people came out to see the Patriots say goodbye and hop on a bus.
Fans started lining up early. Really really early.
According to CBS Boston, fans were tailgating like it was a game, and they packed both the field and the stands at Gillette Stadium.
Fans were also given signs to hold up during the rally.
It was a tremendous crowd, and it felt like a concert after the Blue Man Group performed. But everyone really came alive once actual Patriots people started talking. Owner Robert Kraft said a few words, and he was followed by head coach Bill Belichick, foregoing his iconic sleeveless hoodie for a suit. He didn’t say much, but he made it count.
The team captains (David Andrews, Matthew Slater, Patrick Chung, James White, and Devin McCourty) spoke next, appealing to the crowd and getting them all fired up.
Fired up for what? For the GOAT. Tom Brady spoke last, and he was thrilled to be there.
That face is just so Brady. He, and everyone else, was in awe at the size of the crowd. When he was asked about his team, he had nothing but glowing praise: He emphasized that the team is selfless, and that it’s never about individual stats. Brady praised his teammates for staying grounded, and for listening to the coaches and not riding the emotional roller coaster of the season. And then he ended his remarks with a chant and a mic drop that turned into a mic toss.
The rallying cry of the players was “We’re Still Here.” The crowd chanted it as he and the rest of the players exited to the stage while “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne played. From there, they got onto the bus to T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island, where they would board a plane bound for Atlanta. And fans even lined the streets to see the buses themselves roll by.
One thing everyone learned from the rally: going to the Super Bowl in four of the last five years doesn’t make fans bored or apathetic. And over 30,000 people showed up at Foxboro on a cold January morning to prove it.
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