FOXBORO (CBS) — The 2019 season kicked off for the reigning Super Bowl champions on Sunday night, and the Patriots made sure that opening kick didn’t come until a proper party was held inside their stadium.
The celebration began with a performance by the Patriots’ cheerleaders, which kicked off a light show that included every fan in attendance wearing a glowing wrist band.
Godsmack then performed their song “When Legends Rise” on the field. That song paved the way for Patriots legends to take the field, with each player representing one of the Patriots’ previous Super Bowl wins.
Quarterback Drew Bledsoe took the field to represent Super Bowl XXXVI, followed by Ty Law for Super Bowl XXXVIII, then Willie McGinest for Super Bowl XXXXIX. In the three more recent Super Bowls, Rob Ninkovich represented Super Bowl XLIX, and Martellus Bennett represented Super Bowl LI.
Team owner Robert Kraft then carried the most recent Lombardi Trophy onto the field to begin the celebration for Super Bowl LIII.
Recently retired right end Rob Gronkowski then stepped to the middle of the field and ferociously spiked a football, setting off the countdown to the unveiling of the newest banner.
The banner covering was dropped, the fireworks were shot, and the home crowd went crazy. Seconds later, the 2019 Patriots took the field to their usual “Crazy Train,” and with that, 2018 officially ended and 2019 officially began.
The celebration of course stems from the Patriots’ 13-3 victory over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta in February.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 9, 2019
For the Patriots, Sunday marked the sixth banner celebration at Gillette Stadium since 2002, with the first extravaganza being held on the night of the first official game at Gillette in Week 1 of the 2002 season. The Pittsburgh Steelers were also the visitors that night, with the Patriots winning that game 30-14.
That ceremony was followed by banner unveilings to kick off the 2004, 2005, 2015, and 2017 seasons.
The Patriots went 4-1 in the games that followed each banner presentation, only losing in 2017.
2002: Patriots 30, Steelers 14
2004: Patriots 27, Colts 24
2005: Patriots 30, Raiders 20
2015: Patriots 28, Steelers 21
2017: Chiefs 42, Patriots 27
Past musical acts to partake in the presentations include Elton John, Beyonce, Ozzy Osbourne, The Dropkick Murphys, T-Pain, and Flo Rida.
The banners have moved twice in Gillette’s history, as they were first hung in the corner before moving to a spot above the video board in the south end zone. After the Super Bowl LI victory, construction was required to accommodate all of the banners.
The Patriots franchise is now tied with the Steelers franchise for most Super Bowl victories of all time, with six.