NFL notebook: Thousands give Pats a Super sendoff
For New England Patriots fans, the trip to the Super Bowl never gets old.
Before the Patriots departed Sunday morning for their ninth Super Bowl appearance since the 2001 season, an estimated 35,000 fans gathered at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., to wish the team well. Fans started lining up in the cold before dawn to get a good viewing spot.
Owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and a handful of teammates addressed the crowd, thanking them for the support. After the rally, they boarded buses for the T.F. Green Airport in Providence, R.I., where the team plane was waiting to take the Patriots to Atlanta. New England will meet the Los Angeles Rams there next Sunday in Super Bowl LIII.
“We’ve got to bring it, you guys have got to bring it and hopefully we can bring the trophy back home,” Brady said. “We’re not quite at the end yet. We’ve got one more to go.”
Brady worked the crowd into a frenzy by leading the chant, “We’re still here!” before dropping the mic.
The Patriots have won five Super Bowls in the Brady-Belichick era.
—If there were any question whether Brady would consider retiring after the Super Bowl, win or lose, the 41-year-old Patriots star has apparently put it to rest.
“Zero,” Brady apparently replied when asked if there was any chance next Sunday’s showdown against the Rams would be his final NFL game.
A veteran of 19 seasons, Brady was a model of consistency again this season — earning his 14th Pro Bowl selection by passing for 4,355 yards with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Patriots have not had a losing season since he earned the starting QB job after a Drew Bledsoe injury back in 2001.
—The Washington Redskins expect quarterback Alex Smith to miss the entire 2019 season because of issues stemming from his leg injury, sources told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Smith, 34, suffered fractures to his tibia and fibula in a Week 11 loss to the Houston Texans and had surgery Nov. 18. He then battled an infection and remained hospitalized until Dec. 16. Initial reports said he faced a recovery time of 6-8 months, but the infection altered that timetable.
The Redskins acquired Smith from Kansas City before the 2018 season. He signed a four-year contract extension that put him under contract for five years and $111 million. It included $71 million in injury guarantees.
—Kansas City Chiefs receiver De’Anthony Thomas was arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia possession, according to the Allen County (Kan.) Sheriff’s Office.
The Chiefs indicated they are aware of the arrest but declined comment, according to multiple reports.
Thomas, 26, is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March. He had three catches for 29 yards and a touchdown in five games in 2018 before suffering a season-ending broken leg. He has 64 receptions for 503 yards and four touchdowns in 55 games (six starts) over five NFL seasons.
—Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long will be 34 when next season begins. Whether he’ll still be suiting up at that point is in question, however.
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“I’m literally just kind of sitting back and seeing what the Eagles do and who they bring in or don’t bring in and how deep that room gets,” Long said on the Marks & Reese radio show. “But I’d still love to play. But at the end of the day at 33, I could go either way.”
Long has forced six fumbles, made 11.5 sacks and registered 51 tackles in two seasons with Philadelphia, never missing a game.
—Field Level Media