Super Bowl champs enjoy Patriots' day

Posted: Wednesday, February 04, 2004

BOSTON The New England Patriots held high their second Super Bowl trophy in three seasons before a raucous downtown crowd Tuesday, celebrating a championship that was as thrilling as the first one.

''We're baaack!'' Brady told a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd in City Hall Plaza, standing with team owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and dozens of teammates amid a hail of red, white and blue confetti.

Brady and Kraft hoisted the twin Super Bowl trophies as they led a parade to City Hall before hundreds of thousands of fans.

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.

''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 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 the 26-year-old Brady, who said he's looking for more.

''One was nice, two's a lot nicer, but I need number three,'' said Brady, a two-time Super Bowl MVP.

Fans weren't shy about predicting more success Tuesday. Chris Cashen, 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 of Burlington, Vt., said the Patriots proved their last Super Bowl victory 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.

Boston police estimated a total crowd of 1.5 million. Police made seven arrests, most for disorderly conduct. Eighty-seven people were injured but none seriously, Boston EMS Chief Richard Serino 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. Some young women bared their breasts or kissed each other to the cheers of the crowd; plastic bottles were thrown; and some scuffles broke out. But the crowd settled down and cheered as images from the parade were broadcast on huge screens.

Patriots players waved and videotaped the crowd as they traveled the 1 1/2-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 of Hampton, N.H. He wore his Panthers cap proudly.

''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, 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 and overcast in Boston, but the goodwill warmed some fans. John McCoy, a 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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