By Kisha Tapangan
On the Sunday before Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, all but one stadium was quiet: Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, home of the New England Patriots.
It was just a week ago that Billy Cundiff of the Baltimore Ravens missed something that would've been considered a chip shot. With that missed 32-yard field goal, it paved the way for the Patriots to make their fifth Super Bowl appearance in 10 years.
It was that missed field goal gave Patriots fans a reason to come out on a sunny, crisp Sunday afternoon to the Razor's Edge to bid their favorite players adieu as they were on their way to Lucas Oil Stadium to face the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.
The event was purely for the fans.
Dunkin' Donuts were on site to hand out free hot chocolate and coffee. There was even a vendor out in front of the Hall at Patriot Place handing out free hot dogs to anyone willing to stand in line.
Everything at the event was free, even parking. There were groups of fans at the stadium as early as eight o'clock. Those fans, of course, were the ones that had the best seats in the house. As the team was prepping for a noon departure, what better way to get fans excited than to revisit the missed field goal that made the upcoming Super Bowl trip possible.
As the ball went wide left, the stadium erupted as if it was the first time they had all seen it.
Soon after, the Patriots players were finally introduced and walked through the enormous inflatable Patriots helmet as if it were a typical game day introduction. Quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Wes Welker led the way. The biggest difference of course, was that everyone was dressed rather sharply - perhaps dapper is a better word.
After a quick word from head coach Bill Belichick, one by one, the players stepped up to the podium to speak with the most important people in the stadium, the fans.
Vince Wilfork, who had an exceptional game against the Ravens stated, "It's been a long, fun, exciting, tough year."
|Fans cheer the players on from the stands at Gillette Stadium in Foxbrough, Mass. (Kisha Tapangan / PatriotsInsider.com)|
Wes Welker gave all the credit to the fans and the fact that the Patriots had home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Veteran running back Kevin Faulk received a round of applause as he approached the podium. Faulk has been limited since his torn ACL injury in 2010.
Faulk shared, "The one question I was asked during the off-season was, ‘Why are you coming back Kevin?' This is it right here. See you all in Indy."
Faulk has been in a Patriots jersey since 1999 and was a part of all previous Super Bowl winning teams.
"Boy, this never gets old." Faulk exclaimed.
The final player to address the crowd was Tom Brady.
"I wish we could take all of you with us to Indy." Brady continued, "We hope we'll have a lot more people at our party next weekend."
Overconfidence or arrogance? Either way, the Patriots fans cheered even louder.
The final word came from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who suffered the loss of his wife Myra Hiatt Kraft. The MHK patches that adorned the jerseys all season were a sign of remembrance and dedication.
"This season is dedicated to her," Kraft said, "And to all the volunteers across America who make this country great."
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the Patriots held a Super Bowl Send Off event for their dedicated fans. With 25,000 fans present to show their support, the Patriots Super Bowl Send Off Rally was a great way to prepare for the big game at the place where it all happened, Gillette Stadium.
Kisha Tapangan is contributing writer for Patriots Insider.com. She also manages the blog Necessary Roughness with Kisha. She can also be found on twitter @KishaT. Feel free to email her your thoughts here.