New England in Old England
|10.23.09 at 12:22 pm ET|
LONDON — The New England Patriots arrived in old England (I promised myself I would not say that, but being here makes the temptation too irresistible) at 5:15 Friday morning on a chartered flight. Prior to heading over to the Brit Oval for a date with the media and practice, the team checked into their posh Park Lane hotel, which sits close to London’s Hyde Park.
The Brit Oval, which is owned by the Prince of Wales, sits just south of the river Thames and is the home of Surrey Cricket. The Patriots arrived at their London-based practice facility around 1 p.m. local time. Much like Super Bowl media day, there were podiums on the field for players to answer the media’s questions. Vince Wilfork, Sebastian Vollmer, Jerod Mayo, Junior Seau and Wes Welker took questions for about twenty-five minutes. Seau told reporters he was appreciative for the opportunity and acknowledged the big game nature of playing an NFL game in London, but did note “the ambience [of being in London] will not dictate what they do as a team,” while Mayo said he hoped to be back to 100 percent after the bye week, which follows Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay.
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick held their press conferences in the Long Room of the Brit Oval following the Wilfork, Vollmer, Mayo, Seau and Welker interviews. Brady looked rested and ready to go. He answered questions from the U.S and foreign media and touched on how special it was for him to come to London as a member of the Patriot organization. When asked about why he dressed up for the trip over to London, Brady joked about how he was the only player to wear formal attire on the trip, (Welker, like the rest of the team, wore warm-ups for the trip). “I don’t take fashion advice from Wes,” Tom said when asked why he didn’t dress casually like the other players. Tom also acknowledged the significance of playing in London and practicing at the “historic” Brit Oval.
Belichick took the podium after his quarterback, and said he loves London and is glad that if the team has to travel across the ocean to play a game, he’s glad London is the place. The coach also touched upon the nature of personnel turnover in the NFL and how he prefers to operate with a smaller staff — something he learned from Bill Parcells. Belichick went on to discuss how every decision he has made has been done with the best interest of the team in mind; he does not allow personal relationships play a part in how he defines his team. This has undoubtedly served him well when difficult decisions had to be made. Belichick also said that between the end of practice and tomorrow morning, the decision would be made on what to do with the two vacant roster spots left behind by wide receiver Joey Galloway and tight end Michael Matthews, who were released by the Patriots on Tuesday.
After Brady and Belichick concluded their fifteen minute rendezvous with the media in the Long room, they headed out to practice. The players were dressed in shoulder pads and helmets and looked to be putting the final touches on their preparations for Sunday.
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