Patriots careful not to compare to former champs

Patriots careful not to compare to former champs
August 2, 2014, 6:00 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

FOXBORO -- Before the 2010 season, as the Patriots readied to work months after a lackluster loss at home to the Ravens in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, Bill Belichick did some remodeling.

That offseason was a time for the usual sprucing around Gillette Stadium, but Belichick put his own touch on the decorating. All the pictures of Patriots past, reminding those inside the building of the franchise's Super Bowl successes in the early oughts, were removed and not replaced.

The message was clear: It was time for the current group of Patriots to make their own set of memories.

Still, though, the shadow of those great Patriots teams looms over Foxboro. And on nights like Friday's, the reminders of that lofty championship standard in New England come more clearly into focus.

In the team's eighth training camp session of the summer, the sidelines were loaded with champions who watched the Patriots practice after Ty Law's induction into the team's Hall of Fame. Rodney Harrison was there, as was Lawyer Milloy, Troy Brown, Bobby Hamilton, Tedy Bruschi, Kevin Faulk and Otis Smith.

Fifteen Super Bowl rings among them.

"It was a good group here tonight, it really was," Belichick said. "It was awesome to see those guys. It’s a pretty good secondary standing over there with Ty and Otis at the corner, Rodney and Lawyer at safety and then we’ve got Troy Brown could be our nickelback. That was an awesome group of guys."

While a nice reminder of the greatness that walked the Gillette Stadium halls years ago, Belichick hoped that the presence of those now-graying champions wouldn't get into the heads of his 2014 team.

He knows there's a balance to be struck in weighing a desire to live up to a championship pedigree while also establishing a unique identity.

"I think we’re all proud of the tradition of this team in the past -- the coaches, the players, all of us that were involved with it," Belichick said. "I think that’s always something you want to be proud of and sustain, but it’s really up to this team to be this team."

For someone like Darrelle Revis, in his first preseason as a member of the Patriots, seeing representatives from three championship teams manning the sidelines on Friday had him star struck. "Those guys are legends," he said.

But like his coach, he was reluctant to make any kind of link between the then and the now.

"I respect all of those guys," Revis explained. "I think one thing, as you look at it is, is you just try to enjoy this moment. Guys got honored today and you just enjoy their success and what they did and just go from there.

"You don’t really want to try to compare even the teams together. I mean, they had great teams when they played. The only thing we can control as a team right now is to finish up training camp strong and get ready and get prepared for the year."