The buzz was palpable inside the Putnam Club on Tuesday night, as the New England Patriots players and coaches officially kicked of the 2011 football season.
The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation hosted their annual Kickoff Gala in the Putnam Club Tuesday. Proceeds from the event benefit many causes throughout the area.
The Patriots are dedicating this season to the memory of Myra Kraft in the spirit of volunteerism. To recognize the importance of helping others, the Patriots awarded linebacker, Jerod Mayo, with the Ron Burton Community Service Award.
The night started off with a cocktail hour and a players and coaches meet and greet. There were a lot of smiles on the faces of those in attendance as they rubbed shoulders with Patriots players including Deion Branch, Vince Wilfork, Chad Ochocinco, Wes Welker, Matt Light, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Patrick Chung, first round pick Nate Solder, and Albert Haynesworth.
When it was time for the event to begin, everyone sat at their respective tables, and NFL Networks' Rich Eisen took to the podium as the emcee for the event and to introduce the Patriots players as they entered.
The event featured a live auction. The live auction was a chance for the fans there to bid on some extremely unique items. These were not the usual items for bid in an auction.
The Big Four items up for bid were:
- An ESPN Monday Night Football Experience- A VIP package for the Patriots vs. Chiefs game on 11/21.
- NFL Draft Breakdown With Coach Belichick- In which Belichick himself would provide a tour and breakdown of this past draft.
- Visiting Team Owner For The Day- This item was the big seller... It would allow you to fly on Kraft's private jet with Robert to a Pats road game, and you were able to have all the perks and VIP treatment of well... a VIP.
- Throwing Clinic With Tom Brady- This item drew the most oohs and ahs from the crowd.
A "Surprise guest" helped loosen up everyone's donation wallets, as Zoltan "Borat" Mesko appeared to help out.
After the live auction, Rich Eisen introduced Bill Belichick, who spoke of Myra Kraft and the wonderful things that the Patriots Charitable foundation does for the community, as well as his appreciation for the United States Military. Belichick invited one of the Military members in attendance to take the podium and speak of his experiences. Belichick also talked about the upcoming season and then introduced a few of the players that he had asked to speak at the event. Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Danny Woodhead, Patrick Chung, Wes Welker, and the recipient of the " 2011 Ron Burton Community Service Award" Jerod Mayo.
Brady spoke of his appreciation for the Kraft family, and touched on how much he misses Myra Kraft. Brady also spoke of how much he enjoys coming to work everyday at Gillette and playing for the Patriots.
"To come to work everyday, to know that all you have to do is focus on your job. It, it makes it pretty easy. It's not easy to complete passes all the time with people rushing in your face, but this organization has always been about team, and I think you really get the sense of community, you really get the sense of what this organization is all about on nights like this. Not only does this event signify some of the end of training camp. It's a great way for us to express and honor people like Jerod, and the past winners of the Ron Burton Award and all the people in the community that we are very privileged to represent, especially when we win," said Brady.
The night concluded with a video montage of the Patriots young 2011 season, set to the official, unofficial music theme "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC.
The event was certainly a success, raising over a million dollars for the Patriots Charitable Foundation.
The team now goes back to work, in preparation for their 2011 season opener on Monday night, September 12th, on the road, against their AFC East rivals, the Miami Dolphins. Kickoff is 7:00 p.m.