SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Patriots

January 30, 2012

Relaxed Patriots arrive in Indy

(Continued)

"I see Dwight Freeney's picture up there (on the stadium)," Brady said. "When you come to Indy and don't have to play him, we are very fortunate for that."

The Patriots drew about 25,000 fans to Gillette Stadium earlier Sunday for what Brady termed "a pep rally." Team owner Robert Kraft, who has had an emotional year — his wife passed away last July and he was instrumental in resolving the NFL's lockout of the players — was thrilled by the turnout.

"We had 25,000 people come to our stadium today to send the team off," Kraft said. "At the stadium today it was so special, the time we are in now, to have 25,000 of our fans cheer our team is a very emotional experience."

This is Kraft's sixth Super Bowl as owner, and he vividly recalled the days when the team was lucky to draw 25,000 for a game.

"I sat with those crowds. I sat in the stands for 34 years and we had one home playoff game, in 1978, which we lost to Houston," Kraft said. "And last Sunday, we were privileged to host our 15th playoff game."

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