Playing in the Super Bowl has its obvious benefits, particularly if your team wins.
It also has its drawbacks, which become more pronounced if your team doesn't win -- namely, a much shorter offseason.
The Patriots find themselves in the latter position, having had less than two months between the end of the 2007 season and the beginning of their 2008 offseason strength and conditioning program.
"It's fun. We had a little time off ... of course, we want more time off," laughed WR Jabar Gaffney, one of the many players who's back at Gillette Stadium working out, when asked about the offseason program. "But we've got to get back to work. This is what we do."
Having gone through offseason programs with other teams, Gaffney has an interesting perspective on how professional clubs approach their offseason work. Gaffney appreciates the way the Patriots, led by strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik, conduct their sessions because of the tangible results he's seen it produce.
"Yeah, it's serious business," said Gaffney. "Mike is an outstanding strength and conditioning coach. He does a great job of getting us in shape. Last year was a testament to his work. Not too many guys were injured going down the stretch. Playing 19 games, you would think somebody would miss some action, but pretty much everyone was there. That's a credit to what he does with us."
After his second straight productive season in New England, Gaffney could have gone looking for his fourth team in as many years. But it didn't take long for him to decide that he was right where he wanted to be.
"A little bit," he admitted to the temptation to test the free-agent waters, "but I knew I wanted to stay here, especially the way last year ended. Having been (on other teams), I know we're going to be competitive here at the end. It matters a lot. You want a chance to win. When you're really competitive and love the game of football, that's what it all comes down to. All the money stuff, that's all fine and dandy, but a real competitor wants to win."
With nearly every piece of last year's record-breaking offense back for the 2008 season, Gaffney hopes that a year from now, he and the Pats will have another short offseason, only with a happier ending.
"Yeah, we were 18-0, first team to go 16-0 ... that's all fine, but we didn't finish," he lamented. "We were (in the Super Bowl), and we want to get back there, and be on the (winning) side."
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