After the AFC team's practice yesterday at Aloha Stadium, cornerback Ty Law signed autographs for fans.

Blue-collar Patriots

New England may have only
three Pro Bowlers, but the team
has the NFL's top prize

You don't need a bunch of superstars to win the Super Bowl. New England proved it could be done blue-collar style two years ago and confirmed it last week.

Only three Patriots are here for Sunday's Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Some see that as a sign of disrespect. It can also be viewed as the opposite; the fewer stars a team has, the more solid contributions it must have from top to bottom in order to win.

Linebacker Willie McGinest, defensive end Richard Seymour and cornerback Ty Law arrived late Tuesday after a victory parade Monday in Boston. They enjoyed yesterday's light practice with their AFC teammates, but they did admit they feel a little lonely without more Patriots here to share the sun and congratulations from their peers.

"We wish we could've had more guys here, but that's just how the ball bounces," McGinest said. "I think the main concern for the guys on our team was the other bowl, trying to be successful in the Super Bowl. But we wish we could've had more guys."

Seymour said the Patriots' cohesiveness makes him want to spend Pro Bowl week with more teammates.

After the AFC team's practice yesterday at Aloha Stadium, defensive lineman Richard Seymour spoke with reporters.

"I think if you look at it, you can look at it like other things in life. When you have something, when you experience things, you want to share it with somebody. And you want to share it with the guys you worked with, who you paid the dues with," Seymour said. "You've been through a lot of battles, done a lot of things with them, been through tough times, ups and downs. When you can do it with those guys, that's what it's all about."

How long can the Patriots maintain their current level of excellence? Parity has been the league's trademark the past several seasons. Can a team that consistently drafts late remain atop the standings? Also, winning players command more money and the salary cap and liberal free-agent rules combine to make a natural balancer of the league's teams.

Law is a perfect example of this phenomenon. The fourth-time Pro Bowler turns 30 next Tuesday, and $9.46 million of his compensation counts against the 2004 salary cap. If the Patriots keep him around, it's likely they will want to restructure his salary so less of it counts against the cap. Although he is signed through 2005, Law can become a free agent this offseason. He said yesterday he doesn't want to, unless he has to.

During practice, McGinest talked with AFC teammate Zach Thomas about a play before mixing it up with AFC teammate Alan Faneca, a Pittsburgh Steelers guard.

"It's out of my hands, but I hope to stay with the Patriots," said Law, who has been with New England all nine years of his NFL career.

The Patriots let go of safety Lawyer Milloy, a Pro Bowl player from their Super Bowl-winning team of two years ago, under similar circumstances before the start of this season. But top-notch cornerbacks like Law are more of a commodity than safeties.

"I hope so," McGinest said, when asked if he thinks Law will still be a teammate next fall. "That's our strength, keeping our nucleus together. And the guys they do bring in have been able to adapt really well."

Seymour said the players have confidence in the team's management and ownership.

Linebacker Willie McGinest is one of three players that Super Bowl champion New England Patriots has on Oahu for Sunday's Pro Bowl. "We wish we could’ve had more guys here, but that's just how the ball bounces," McGinest said.

"I think they'll take good care of that business part of it," Seymour said. "As far as being a dynasty, I'll let you guys take that on. I think the only thing we can do is go out and play to the best of our ability. And when it's all said and done wherever we fall, that's where it is."

Quarterback Steve McNair of the Tennessee Titans would love to see the Patriots' run come to an end. But he said New England's success has more to do with overwhelming professional competence than the spectacular play of a few stars.

"Team chemistry. They're well-coached, well-disciplined," McNair said. "They make good overall decisions as to what game plan to put in week in and week out, and they do it to perfection."

Pro Bowl


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