FOXBORO (CBS/AP) – A huge crowd of fans came out to Gillette Stadium Monday morning to send off the New England Patriots in style as they head to Minneapolis to play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
The rally at NRG Plaza outside The Hall at Patriot Place began just after 9 a.m. but some die-hards arrived as early as 3 a.m. to get a good spot close to the stage.
Other fans showed their dedication in distance traveled to attend the rally.
“We came all the way from Virginia for the rally, it was absolutely amazing,” said one man. “We got a huge Patriots group we watch games with every week. We came all the way just for the rally because we can’t afford the Super Bowl!”
Just after 10 a.m., fans were greeted by a small group on stage led by team president Jonathan Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick, who was dressed in a suit.
After they addressed the crowd briefly, wide receiver Danny Amendola and safeties Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon spoke before handing the microphone over to quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady got the loudest ovation as Harmon led the crowd in an “M-V-P” chant while introducing him.
“Thank you guys for your support all year, it’s been an incredible journey. We got one more to go. We got a locker room full of guys that are ready for the challenge,” Brady said. “You guys are with us! Patriot Nation is stronger than ever!”
He then told the crowd, “We love you!” before he held up the microphone and yelled, “Patriots out!” before dropping the mic to high fives from his teammates and Belichick.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski joined the group on stage, but did not address the crowd. He’s still recovering from a concussion from the AFC Championship game on January 21.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft was not at the rally. The team said he had a business obligation.
The Patriots then boarded buses to Warwick, Rhode Island for their flight to Minneapolis on the team plane, also known as “Air Kraft.”
After landing in Minnesota, the Patriots will take part in media night.
The Eagles are up first, fielding questions at 7 p.m., while New England’s session gets underway around 9 p.m.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)