It’s always a thrill to drive down Route 1 and see the stadium looming in the distance, dominating everything along that ancient highway. It’s really a low-key highway, surrounded by businesses and a handful of homes. Luciano’s is the best restaurant in town, an Italian eatery that many Patriots’ players have patronized over the years. The End Zone Motel is where the rookies stay when they first come to town.
Patriots Place is a shopping center surrounding the stadium acreage. It opened when the economy tanked, so is not doing well, but no one’s holding any bake sales for the Kraft family. They own the Patriots and it’s the fifth richest sports franchise in the world, valued at over a billion dollars. Guess they should quit pussyfooting around and sign Tom already!
There’s plenty of parking around the stadium and in the shopping mall lot. I parked in the mall lot (less congested) and walked up to the stadium. It’s a longer trek but not by much. Besides, as long as I can walk it, I will. Good exercise.
I wore my Brady dark-blue team jersey, Pats’ cap, and long pants and sneakers. I carried a Patriots tote bag filled with my camera, binoculars, water bottle, and purse. I bought a First Down Frank. Mmm, the smell of sizzling sausages and popcorn! Nothing quite like it. ;)
I went to the bleachers furthest away from the entrance. I’ve always had good luck there as the players end up in that zone more often than not. The aluminum benches are from the old stadium and bring back a lot of memories! My family and I spent a lot of fun afternoons in the old stadium. Once I finished my hot dog I trained my binoculars on Tom. ;)
GORGEOUS! He was smiling and joking and when he took his helmet off, all that blond hair was just the yummiest. There is still talk of him being disgruntled about not having a new contract yet, but you couldn’t tell by his demeanor during camp. No. 12 looked sharp on the first day (the team had done morning practice at 9:30-11:00). It was now 3:45 and hot, but not as humid as it’s been on other training camp days I’ve been to.
I found a good spot, and gradually it got crowded as the time wore on, but not uncomfortably so. The women around me were yelling, “We love you, Tom!” and wolf whistling, LOL! And the guys were in awe of his tight spirals (football throws, football throws!). The first question out of everyone’s mouth as they sat down was, “Where’s Tom?” That was my first question, too, and he was there in all his delectable glory. ;)
The drills were sharp, the defense feisty, which is a good sign. Our defense is suspect again this year and could mean a struggle for the playoffs with the brutal schedule the Patriots face, but we have Tom and Belichick so we’ll see how it goes. The AFC East is better with the improved Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. Alas for Buffalo Bills fans, the team is not in the mix.
Tom threw those pretty spirals. Brady-to-Moss is a beautiful thing. :) And the drills were offense working on handing off to the running backs, the QBs throwing short and long, goal line offense and defense, and kick-off returns. The boys even seranaded one of their teammates on his birthday. Tom’s is August 3rd. He’ll be 33.
Wow, I can remember him as a fresh-faced 24-year-old leading us to our first Super Bowl back in January of 2002. He couldn’t even sign for a rental car without his father co-signing, LOL!
I felt very relaxed as I watched with tinges of excitement. Training camp is a fresh start. All teams are 0-0. All teams have a chance.
And the start of training camp means the crispness of fall is on the way, and Sundays are spent glorying in our boys’ exploits on the field. Football is comin’ back, baby! :)
As the shadows began to lengthen along the field, I watched the end of practice and left the bleachers to go home, happy at the day. It was Mom’s birthday. She had loved the Patriots, and I wanted to celebrate her birthday. I was sad, because I’ll always miss her and Dad, but I wanted to be happy on her day, too.