NEW YORK — Patriots owner Robert Kraft expressed his desire to have pending free agents Julian Edelman and Aqib Talib return to the team while talking with reporters Friday after commissioner Roger Goodell’s annual Super Bowl press conference.
At the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center with numerous other league owners, Kraft spoke of how happy he was that the Super Bowl was in New York/New Jersey, alluding to the idea that holding the league’s marquee event was another post-9/11 sign of the region’s strength.
When asked if he’d like to have Gillette Stadium host a Super Bowl now that the league has held the game outdoors in a cold-weather city, Kraft said, “Let’s see how this goes.”
The forecast for Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J., home of MetLife Stadium, is in the 40s, with the possibility of snow after the game.
“I’m a great supporter of playing this game in all elements. I think the most memorable games we’ve played up in Foxborough somehow have had either cold weather or snow associated with them,” Kraft said. “Probably the greatest game played in the old Foxboro Stadium was the so-called ‘Tuck Rule’ game. The ratings were great, and all the fans remember being there, so I’m a big supporter of the game here and I compliment New York/New Jersey and what they’ve done.”
During his press conference, Goodell said a potential host city needs a minimum of 30,000 hotel rooms, and Boston has that covered: There are around 35,000 hotel rooms inside the Route 128 loop.
On Edelman, who led the Patriots with 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and was also one of the NFL’s best punt returners, Kraft said, “I definitely want him back. He’s an outstanding young man. We hope he wants to be back, and once again, it’s about two sides coming together.
“He really came into his own this year, and what he did in returning punts, what he did on the field was tremendous. I really hope he’ll return with us.”
Kraft said Talib, who was named to his first Pro Bowl, has been “a great young man in the locker room and fun to be with and he’s really been a great team player and the camaraderie has been terrific. He’s a fun guy. He’s a real good guy.”
Like everyone else who watched the AFC Championship game against Denver, Kraft saw how New England’s defense was impacted when Talib was knocked out of the game after colliding with Wes Welker, and pointed to that as a reason he’d like to keep the cornerback in a Patriots uniform.
Having just completed his 20th season as owner and 14th with Bill Belichick as head coach, Kraft praised the coaching staff for the job it did in 2013 and the way the players came together and performed as a team.
As for the Super Bowl, Kraft has Welker, for whom he has expressed great fondness, on one side and his former coach, Pete Carroll, on the other.
“I don’t know if I’m allowed to pick sides, to be honest,” said Kraft. “It’s really hard to even go or watch this game for us, but I do have people I feel very warmly to on both sides, so it’s really irrelevant how I feel after that.”
Champion of Bailey
There are plenty of players on the Broncos playing in their first Super Bowl, but only one has been in the league 15 years, cornerback Champ Bailey.
Several players have talked about winning the game for Bailey, to build on his Hall of Fame credentials. But while Bailey, 35, is flattered by the love, he doesn’t want all of the attention on him.
“It’s not about me, it’s about this team,” he said. “I know I’ve been around the block a few times and been in this league a long time, but it’s not about Champ, it’s more about our team.”
Peyton Manning, in the Super Bowl for the third time in his 16 seasons, is among those happy to be part of the team that finally got Bailey to this point.
“It’s really hard to describe. I know how hard it is to get to a Super Bowl,” Manning said. “People think you should go every single year; it’s just not possible. Sometimes, guys go to three Super Bowls and only play seven or eight years, and they go, ‘That’s a great average.’ They had three years of an eight-year career going to a championship game.
“For Champ to play for as long as he has, to have a chance to play in his first one, it speaks to how difficult it is to get there. It also speaks to his commitment to staying on top of his game, keeping himself in great shape. To be playing corner at his age is extremely difficult. I’m happy for him that he is playing in this game. I know it means a lot to him. I know a lot of the players want to win this game for him. I certainly do, as well.”
Bailey said the Super Bowl means “everything” as a player.
The FBI said at least five hotels near MetLife Stadium received envelopes containing an off-white powdery substance Friday, but it was quickly discovered that the substance was cornstarch.
According to the Bergen Record, the manager of the Econo Lodge in Carlstadt, about 3 miles from the stadium, called police after she opened an envelope with no return address in her office and a fine powder fell onto her hand and lap. There also was a typed letter inside, which the manager did not read. She refused medical care.
No illnesses or injuries were reported from the other hotels.
Bills add Pepper
Longtime Patriots assistant coach Pepper Johnson, 49, who left the team to pursue better coaching opportunities, was hired by the Bills as defensive line coach. Johnson had been an assistant with the Patriots since 2000 . . . The 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class will be chosen on Saturday by the 46-member selection committee. There are 15 modern-era finalists and two senior nominees, none of whom have ties to the Patriots . . . The attorney for suspended Dolphin Richie Incognito released 40 pages of text messages between Incognito and Miami teammate Jonathan Martin to CBS4 News in Miami in an attempt to show that the players engaged in a mutual exchange of vulgarities, and not the bullying that is at the center of investigations by the NFL and the Players’ Association. The texts date to December 2012. Martin left the team last October.