A lot has changed since the last time the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams faced off in the Super Bowl.
Feb. 3, 2002 was a night unlike any other in New Orleans, Louisiana. That game itself changed football forever, including the pre-game intros. When New England ran out onto the field as a team before Super Bowl XXXVI, they bypassed the customary individual pre-game intros, and started a new tradition that transcended the NFL. Since then, everybody runs out of the tunnel at the Super Bowl as a team.
“I’ve talked to a lot of guys who have been in Super Bowls who said, ‘Man, I wish we thought of that,'” former Patriots’ linebacker Tedy Bruschi told WEEI.
When the Patriots made the decision to run out as a team prior to Super Bowl XXXVI, it shocked many around the league. But it widely has a positive legacy now and is considered one of the pivotal moments that launched the greatest dynasty in NFL history.
Ahead of that Super Bowl, the Patriots had not yet established themselves as the juggernaut that people know them as today. Tom Brady was in his first year as a starter, and Bill Belichick was in the playoffs for just the second time. The then-St. Louis Rams had several future Hall of Famers such as Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk. That Rams offense was considered “The Greatest Show On Turf,” and they entered Super Bowl XXXVI as one of the largest favorites in Super Bowl history.
Back then, the Patriots were the lovable underdogs, the epitome of what team sports should be all about. They still represent the latter, but fans of the league have become fatigued as New England prepares to play in their 9th super bowl game since the turn of the century.
The bad news for the rest of the NFL is that the foundation set in stone in the Superdome that night is still manifesting itself into titles 17 years later, and the Patriots don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.