By John Ingoldsby, Player Engagement Insider
New England Patriots Legends lent their lofty status to the “2017 NFL Kickoff driven by Hyundai” on Boston’s downtown waterfront as scores of fans spent their lunch hour soaking up the sunshine.
Held at Christopher Columbus Park, eight hours before the Super Bowl banner-raising festivities in Foxborough got underway at Gillette Stadium, the crowd got warmed up by watching NFL shows featuring the 2016 Patriots and their Super Bowl overtime comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
Then the presentation began by featuring former center Dan Koppen walking out with a Super Bowl trophy, and later Rodney Harrison and Willie McGinest were in the house to fire up the fans.
They were joined by Boston broadcaster J.C. Monahan and actor Scott Evans (brother of Boston native, actor Chris Evans) hosting the happening, which also featured ticket giveaways to both the Pats opener and this year’s Super Bowl in Minnesota, and was later followed by a concert with the Boston-based band Guster.
Speaking about both their time on the team and their view of the current squad, the former Patriots entertained the already energized crowd with tales of their championship days 40 miles down the road in Foxborough, where the Patriots hosted the Kansas City Chiefs in this year’s opener.
Koppen, a local hero who played for Boston College, reminisced how his most memorable moments were running out on the home field on an opening game banner night since that was a guaranteed moment to remember, no matter what happened afterward during the game.
Harrison, who still works on Sundays, but now with NBC’s pregame “Football Night in America,” recalled his free-agent visit to Foxborough where, after meeting with Coach Bill Belichick for 15 minutes, told his agent the Patriots were the team he wanted to join, even though it meant a pay cut.
McGinest, now a popular on-air personality at NFL Network, discussed last year’s Super Bowl comeback being a classic Patriots display of mental toughness where, even back to his three championships, the team was taught to forget what had already happened in the game and just keep moving on.
The event marked the culmination of RANDOM ACTS OF KICKOFF, a series of fan experiences created by all 32 clubs – from events honoring members of the military, to surprise player and celebrity appearances, to merchandise and game ticket giveaways – to share in the excitement and anticipation of the new season.
John Ingoldsby is the President and Founder of IIR Sports, Inc., a sports media firm based in Boston. He has covered the NFL throughout his career that began as a newspaper reporter/editor, which includes articles in Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine (NFL Player Engagement), London-based Financial Times newspaper (NFL's international strategy), the Philadelphia Daily News (annual NFC Coaches Breakfast) and the Boston Globe (Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll).