New England fans welcome home Super Bowl champions
BOSTON -- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft hoisted twin Super Bowl trophies amid a shower of confetti Tuesday as hundreds of thousands of fans celebrated the team's second championship in three years.
"We're baaack!" Brady told a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd in City Hall Plaza, standing with Kraft, Coach Bill Belichick and dozens of teammates at the victory rally.
Kraft and Belichick praised the players' "no-stars" work ethic that led to a season-ending streak of 15 straight wins and Sunday's 32-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Houston.
"For a team to accomplish their goals, everybody's got to give up a little of their individuality, and that's what these players did, and that's why they're champions," Belichick said.
In a repeat performance of the 2002 Super Bowl celebration, Kraft, Brady and Belichick did a victory dance for the crowd, egged on by All-Pro cornerback Ty Law.
No starting quarterback has ever won two Super Bowls faster than Brady, 26, who said he's looking for more.
"One was nice, two's a lot nicer, but I need number three," said Brady, the two-time Super Bowl MVP.
The Patriots seem well-positioned for another title run with seven draft picks in the first four rounds of April's draft, including two first-rounders. New England also expects linebacker Rosevelt Colvin to return next season and bolster one of the league's toughest defenses.
Fans weren't shy about predicting more success Tuesday. Chris Cashen, 34, a painter from Rockland, said he's already asked his boss for time off for next year's celebration.
"This team was a joke for so long," he said. "(Now) we're frustrating the rest of the league. I think we'll see another parade next year. That's my plan."
Jason Scheinbart, 34, of Burlington, Vt. said Sunday's win proves the Patriots first title against the St. Louis Rams, in a game in which they were heavy underdogs, "wasn't a fluke.
"Now every team in the world that wants to win the Super Bowl has to go through Foxboro, Massachusetts," he said.
The party started early for thousands of revelers, who began streaming into City Hall Plaza before dawn, some wearing face paint, wigs and Revolutionary-era militia outfits. By midday, the plaza was jammed, and the crowd cheered as images from the parade were broadcast on huge screens.
Patriots players waved and videotaped the crowd as they traveled the 1.5-mile parade route from Copley Plaza to City Hall in "Duck Boats," Boston's famous amphibious tourist vehicles. Spectators were stacked 10 deep along both sides of Tremont Street by Boston Common. Some fans stood on mailboxes and others leaned out of office windows, holding signs and screaming. The rally even drew Carolina fan Craig Whitney, 19, of Hampton, N.H., who wore his Panthers cap boldly.
"Even though we lost, it was still the greatest football game I've ever seen," he said.
High school students Sheila Gill and Dena Norton of Medfield waited for a glimpse of Brady and receiver Troy Brown.
"We skipped school," Norton said. "but we'll do anything to support the Patriots."
Jenny Callahan, 20, a Wentworth Institute of Technology student from Florida, came with about 10 friends. She had "Go Pats" written in blue on one side of her face, with Brady's No. 12 on the other.
"I love him a lot," she said.
It was about 32 degrees and overcast in Boston on Tuesday, but the goodwill warmed the chill for some. John McCoy, an 18-year-old high school student from North Attleboro, said he arrived at City Hall Plaza on Monday night to wait for the parade to begin.
"I can't even feel the cold," McCoy said. "There's love all around."
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