More than 25,000 fans ventured to Gillette Stadium Sunday morning to attend the Patriots Super Bowl Send Off/Rally, including myself. The event was completely free, including parking as well as hot chocolate and coffee. The event kicked off with the gates to the stadium being opened at 10:30 and then a replay of the AFC Championship game was shown on the video board until the rally kicked off at noon.
The entire lower bowl of the Patriots sideline was full as well as the 200 level seats in each corner of the end zone on the Patriots sideline. Fans continued to file in and Patriots and security officials were forced to open up more seats in both end zones. By some estimations of people on site there were nearly triple the number of fans at Sunday’s rally than were at the 2007 rally.
Patriots play-by-play man Gil Santos introduced each member of the team as well as organization before they took to the podium to address the crowd.
Jonathan Kraft took to the podium first and he explained how this season was about volunteerism and the program this team has in place for the Super Bowl for people giving back to the community. He introducing the 10 winners of the “Super Bowl for Super People” sweepstakes winners who’ll be joining the team on Super Bowl weekend.
Next came the coach, Bill Belichick who kept his remarks short and sweet. He concluded with, “I’m sure we’ll see some of you in Indy.” Concluding with a“Go Pats!” exclamation.
Fan favorites Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Deion Branch, Kevin Faulk, Wes Welker and Tom Brady all addressed the crowd. Each player didn’t speak for more than 30 seconds.
“Y’all ready for some football!” screamed wide receiver Wes Welker, whose every sentence drew a thunderous roar from the crowd.
“Are you going to yell at everything I say?!” he shouted back finally with a laugh.
The rally wrapped up with owner Robert Kraft reflecting on what the season has meant to him in honoring his late wife Myra. He also explained how Myra might have had an impact on last weeks outcome.
“I’m a big believer in spirituality, as you know,” said Kraft.
The players were all wearing suits in preparation for their trip. Linebacker Brandon Spikes rocked an all pink suit, while Welker wore all red pants. Kraft commented on how well the team dresses.
Following the rally the team boarded six busses en route for Gillette Stadium. Rob Gronkowski did board the bus wearing a walking boot. I did not spot him on the field during the rally, and he walking behind the busses before boarding them, most likely trying to stay clear of cameras. Cameras did catch him and his boot when he got off he plane in Indy. Gronk was walking fine and should be ready to go on Sunday.
The team arrived in Indy around 5 p.m. and are ready to “take care of business.”