INDIANAPOLIS – Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were the last Patriots to walk off the field at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday afternoon after a 90-minute outing with friends and family that included official team Super Bowl photos.
From just past noon until 1:30 p.m., Patriots players, coaches and staff mingled with family and posed for picture after picture as the clock ticked down to Super Bowl XLVI against the New York Giants.
Brady and Belichick will be trying Sunday to win their fourth Super Bowl in five appearances.
Leaving their team hotel on the campus of IUPUI at 11:45 a.m., the Patriots traveled through a raw drizzle in a 10-bus caravan.
Asked how many friends and family made the trip to Lucas Oil, Patriots Vice President of Media Relations Stacey James smiled and said, “All of them.”
Given the light atmosphere, it was no surprise to see a relaxed, happy group of players.
“It really is (good to see the players enjoy the day),” said Belichick. “These guys have worked hard, they’ve earned this trip. We know we’re here for a job but it’s also a fun thing to be part of this game so it’s fun to be seeing them enjoying it. This is what we all work for. To be here. You want to be here, you want to enjoy it, there’s a job to do but you want to be able to enjoy the trip.”
All official team photos were done by 12:30 p.m.
Seventy Patriots players – including all practice squad players and those who’d landed on injured reserve during the year – were in the final team photo taken before position group photos were taken.
Julian Edelman, who played 25 snaps on offense and 25 on defense in the AFC Championship Game, posed with both the wide receivers and defensive backs.
Belichick, wearing tan khakis and a navy blue hooded sweatshirt with three-quarter length sleeves and a Super Bowl XLVI logo on the right sleeve, knelt in the front row of a photo taken of the Patriots coaches.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski showed no trace of a limp for the 75 minutes he was on the field posing first for team photos and then with assorted waves of teammates’ family members. Gronkowski, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the AFC Championship against the Baltimore Ravens, walked briskly from the field and up the tunnel headed for the buses outside. He was listed as “questionable” on Friday’s injury report.
“I think he’s doing better,” Belichick said before the team went on the field to begin the session. “I think he’s doing a little better each day. We’ll just have to see where things (are) and get through tomorrow.”
The Patriots will spend Saturday night at their team hotel on the campus of IUPUI on the edge of downtown Indianapolis. Belichick said there were no stragglers that missed the team’s Friday night curfew.
After the stadium session, the team returned to its hotel. The Patriots will have a team meeting in-between lunch and dinner. There will be a curfew Saturday night as well. The time was undisclosed.
Belichick said his teams have often treated Super Bowl Saturdays like this when there’s been a bye week between the Conference Championship and the Super Bowl. The exception was before Super Bowl 36 when there was no bye week before the Patriots played and beat the St. Louis Rams. Saturday was the 10-year anniversary of that shocking, 20-17 upset of the Rams.
— Written by Tom E. Curran, Pro Football Writers Of America