BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Patriots will have four honorary captains for Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the Ravens, all coming from their 1996 AFC Championship team.
The Patriots will name a captain each day during the week leading up to the AFC Championship, and they started it off with one of the most well-know and loved Patriot: Troy Brown.
“Getting to come back and getting to represent the ‘96 team this time around, first of all it’s a great gesture from Robert Kraft and the New England Patriots to have us come back and do that,” Brown said from Gillette Stadium on Monday. “It will be fun for me to go out and do the coin toss with them again. Hopefully we’ll lose it too, like they’ve been doing all year.”
With Bill Parcells calling the shots, the 1996 Patriots went 11-5 and finished first in the AFC East. They beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-3 in the Wild Card round before handling the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-6 in the AFC Championship. New England got a rushing touchdown from Curtis Martin in the first quarter and capped the win off with a 47-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Otis Smith, securing their second trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history.
They fell to the Green Bay Packers two weeks later.
Brown played all 16 regular season games during the 1996 season, catching 21 passes for 222 yards. He would make a name for himself throughout his 15-year-career with New England for his hard play and versatility. He had several key receptions, kick returns, and even defensive plays throughout the years, from his punt return against the Steelers in the 2001 AFC Championship to a forced fumble (while playing offense after a Brady interception) against the San Diego Chargers in the 2006 Divisional Round.
He finished his Patriots career with 557 receptions, 31 receiving touchdowns, three return touchdowns and three interceptions.
With the Patriots ending a four-year playoff losing streak Saturday with a 45-10 win over the Broncos, Brown says it’s a great time around New England, and makes him reminisce about his time on the field.
“It’s a special time; it’s hard for me to believe so many years have passed by so fast. Reflecting back to ’96, you think about all the failures you’ve had and all the great times you’ve had… I think of all the guys I went to war with out there and sweated with out there. It’ll be a special time for us and it will be great to see some of the guys come back and enjoy this game this weekend.”
And this year, he says the only team he ever played for has a great chance at winning it all because the new group of players are not thinking about the team’s past glory.
“This year, I do think this team is different this year,” Brown said. “I’ve got that feel that guys like (Jerod) Mayo, guys that have been around 3-4 years, they’ve matured some and they understand they can’t play in the shadow of those guys anymore but learn from the way they did and the way they carried themselves. In the past, I don’t think they were pushing that button and going to the next level.”
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“This is a whole other season; the excitement of the game, the tempo of the game. There is three parts of the NFL season; there is preseason tempo, regular season tempo and postseason tempo. Then there is Super Bowl level too. But it’s all different levels and not everybody can flip that switch,” he said.
Brown is enjoying his retirement as a TV analyst, but joked he could still suit up if he got that phone call.
“I have about five good plays in me offensively. I can probably give you 10 on the defensive side of the ball,” Brown said.
Other possibilities for the three remaining captain spots are Curtis Martin, Drew Bledsoe, Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Adam Vinatieri, Ted Johnson, Ty Law and Ben Coates.
Tune in to the AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens Sunday, January 22 at 3pm on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV. Pregame coverage begins with Patriots GameDay at 11:30am on WBZ-TV, with Patriots Preview beginning at noon on the Hub!