FOXBOROUGH – It was banner night in New England.
The Patriots unrolled the banner for their sixth Super Bowl championship Sunday night in a ceremony ahead of their Week 1 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fans attending the game at Gillette Stadium were told to be in their seats early, by 8 p.m., to see the entire ceremony ahead of the 8:20 p.m. kickoff time.
It was a star-studded affair, with several Patriots from Super Bowl teams past on hand. During the ceremony, highlight clips from each Patriots’ Super Bowl were shown on a giant projection screen that was spread across the field, hand-held around the edges the same way the flag often is during the national anthem.
Drew Bledsoe, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett were the former Patriots players chosen to represent each past Lombardi trophy year on the field, with owner Robert Kraft doing the honors for the team’s latest piece of hardware, won last February in Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams.
The band Godsmack also performed. Lights in the stadium were turned off and the crowd was turned into one big lightshow thanks to individual wristbands that glowed in different colors. Each fan was given one upon entry and told to activate them before the ceremony.
Before the concert and the ceremony, Patriots cheerleaders performed to “Run This Town” by Jay Z featuring Rihanna and Kanye West, and “Remember The Name” by Fort Minor.
It wasn’t the first time the Steelers – the only other NFL franchise with six Super Bowls – had to sit through a banner ceremony in Foxborough. Pittsburgh also was in town for the Week 1 openers in 2002 and 2015.
The last moments before the unveling went like this: Gronkowski, who posed shirtless with all six Lombardi Trophies earlier in the day, performed a signature Gronk Spike on the field that set off a six-second “timer” projected onto the on-field screen. When it clicked down to zero, the 2018 banner unfurled to many cheers.