A grand celebration after a historic game
Hundreds of thousands of New England sports fans put a euphoric exclamation point Tuesday on the end of the greatest Super Bowl comeback ever seen, in perhaps the greatest Super Bowl ever played, jamming the city’s victory parade route on a soaking, raw morning to commune with one another, and with their team, over a championship game that even days later seems hard to believe.
Bundled up in Patriots gear against a mix of snow and rain, fans climbed on one another’s shoulders, hoisted their children, steadied cellphone cameras, pressed against metal barriers, hung out windows, scaled trees, packed Boston Common and City Hall Plaza, all to catch a glimpse of the champions — the players, coaches, and owners — and their newest Lombardi trophy, slowly passing in duck boats.
“My mom loves Tom Brady more than me,” read a sign carried by Jared Grillo of Watertown.
Who could blame her?
The star quarterback on Sunday delivered the region’s fifth Super Bowl win since 2002, with another MVP performance in the biggest game of the year, dragging the Pats back into contention from 25 points down in the third quarter, and leading them to victory in the first overtime in Super Bowl history.
Undeterred by weather, the cold, wet, and raucously happy fans honored Brady on Tuesday as the Greatest Of All Time, with chants of GOAT, signs calling him the GOAT, goat masks, and pictures of actual goats.
And as much as they gushed love for Brady, the Pats fans reveled in their contempt for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who is approaching A-Rod/Bucky Dent-level villainy around here.
Sing-song “Where Is Roger?” chants broke out along Boylston Street. Someone drew an enormous profane message for the commissioner in the Copley Square snow, which office workers in towers photographed from above and distributed on social media. The past was not past, not for this crowd, which seemed more likely to elect Rex Ryan the mayor of Boston than forgive the commissioner who suspended Brady for the first four games of the season over the Deflategate controversy.
“That game was hard,” yelled Brady, to the delirious gathering at the end of the parade, at City Hall Plaza, in something of an understatement. The Patriots looked all-but-cooked when the Atlanta Falcons took a 28-3 lead in the game. New England scored 31 unanswered points to win 34-28.
“Hell yeah,” Brady said, “that makes five!”
“I told you we were going to bring this sucker home. And we brought it home,” Brady said, brandishing the trophy.
For New England sports fans, Tuesday’s victory parade actually makes 10 since 2000 — Boston has feted two fistfuls of pro sports champions in this astounding era of winning, including the five by the Pats, three from the Red Sox, and one each for the Celtics and Bruins.
By 9 a.m., thousands of people had already packed the parade route along Boylston, waving signs, flashing Patriots gear, and shouting unprintable things about Goodell. The falling snow turned to frigid rain. What was it like to be there? Try reading this story in a cold shower for two hours.
Justin Druke, a 29-year-old Patriots fan from Manhattan, who fell in love with New England sports listening to Red Sox games with his dad, wore a bright American flag suit and fielded high-fives from admirers in the crowd.
“I feel like the city of Boston has never gotten used to these,” he said of championship parades. “I love the atmosphere.’’
Druke had restrained himself from traveling immediately to Boston on Sunday night to celebrate, settling instead for Monday morning. The flag suit, he said, was leftover from a bachelor party — his friends had told him he’d never find another reason to wear it.
“I was like, ‘Trust me,’ ” he said.
It’s hard to compare this Super Bowl to past wins, he said, but it stands out because it silenced Patriots critics. “Boston has been screaming, ‘Tom Brady is the best!’ for a long time and people have been fighting us,” he said. “Because of this one — that fight is over.”
As the duck boats approached Tremont Street, one fan sniffed the air near the Boston Common food stands, and cried out, “I smell sausage and Tom Brady. What smells more like Boston than that?”
At another spot on the route, a group that had clambered onto on a stone bench screamed: “Bring the GOAT!”
Reverent exclamations rose from teenagers in the crowd.
“They’re comiiiiiiiing!” screeched one girl, her hands pressed to her mouth. “Oh my god!”
“It’s them! It’s them!”
“I hope he says something!”
Gusts of red and blue confetti signaled the players’ arrival. Famously stoic head coach Bill Belichick summoned smiles and nods, Brady held a Lombardi Trophy aloft, and wide receiver Julian Edelman led the bellowing crowd in a chant, counting out the team’s championship: “1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . 5!” Fans raised their fingers in the air and Edelman touched his heart. Players waved shirts that read, “Roger that,” and tossed them into the crowd.
At one point, tight end Rob Gronkowski caught a beer thrown by someone in the crowd, took a gulp, then appeared to spike it.
As soon as the parade had passed, fans began streaming away, suddenly aware of their soaked pants and dripping faces. Still, some stopped to pose with Anthony Palacious, a fan from Worcester decked out in a goat mask, to honor Brady.
“I’ve gone to all of them,” Palacious, 38, said of the parades. “I got addicted early on, I love ’em.”
Chip Salyards drove an hour and a half from Hopkinton with his wife, Wende, and nine kids — five of them their own. “Definitely worth celebrating another victory for the Krafts,” who own the Patriots, “and Brady and the whole team,” he said.
And fans even came from New Jersey — Jets and Giants territory.
Michael Liguori, 39, of Scotch Plains, drove to Boston overnight to watch the parade at City Hall Plaza with his wife, Melissa, and their two children, 7 and 4.
“The first football game I saw was the ’85 Super Bowl,” in which the Patriots, alas, were stomped by the Chicago Bears, “and I’ve been a Pats fan ever since,” said Liguori. “Now I’m raising the next generation of Patriots fans.”
Boston police said there were just four minor arrests during the parade.