During the first 31 seasons of their existence, the New England Patriots had reached two Super Bowls, but came up short in both of them. In 2001, it didn’t look like the Patriots were going anywhere as they lost the first two games and their starting quarterback. That’s when Tom Brady stepped in and the team finished 11-3 the rest of the way, clinching a first round bye in the playoffs.
The Patriots ended up beating the Raiders, Steelers and Rams in the playoffs to set up a showdown with the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. Though they were heavy underdogs, the Patriots still won thanks to a last second field goal by Adam Vinatieri. Looking back at it, we should have known the Patriots were going to be solid as their roster was stacked.
A couple of the players from the team are still around in the NFL today with Tom Brady still leading New England and Adam Vinatieri kicking for the Colts. But what about the rest of the team that has long since retired? Let’s take a look back at the first of four (and counting) Patriots Super Bowl winning teams to find out what they have been up to since their 20-17 victory over St. Louis.
15 Roman Phifer
We start the list with linebacker and defensive end specialist Roman Phifer, who was able to collect two sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception en route to a 70 tackle season in 2001. Phifer would end up with five tackles during Super Bowl XXXVI in what was his first season with the Patriots. Phifer remained in New England for three more seasons and ended his career in 2005 with the Giants.
14 David Patten
David Patten started his long NFL career with the Giants in 1997, and would make a stop in Cleveland in 2000 before joining the Patriots for the memorable 2001 season. That year, Patten would finish with 749 receiving yards and four touchdowns, as well as 67 yards rushing. The versatile Patten had one rush for 22 yards in Super Bowl XXXVI and also added an eight yard touchdown through the air.
13 Joe Andruzzi
After being named to two All American teams in college at Southern Connecticut State, Joe Andruzzi still went undrafted. Andruzzi would end up getting picked up by the Packers, though, and played a total of 23 games with four starts. In 2000, Andruzzi joined the Patriots and became a starter, getting into the lineup for every game in 2001. Andruzzi stuck around New England for three more years, and then finished his career with two seasons in Cleveland.
12 Otis Smith
Defensive back Otis Smith was toward the end of his career when he signed on with New England in 2000. Smith has played for the Eagles, Jets and even had a short stint with the Patriots in 1996. Smith, despite his age, would end up leading the Patriots in interceptions during the 2001 season with five. Smith took two of them to the end zone and had an interception during Super Bowl XXXVI with five tackles.
11 Tedy Bruschi
One of the most recognizable players of the Patriots defense, Tedy Bruschi never played for another team during his time in the NFL. Bruschi was originally picked up in 1996, and finally became a starter full time in 1999. 2001 was a solid season for Bruschi as he finished with two interceptions, two sacks and 54 tackles, adding four tackles during Super Bowl XXXVI.
10 Damien Woody
After being a standout at Boston College, the Patriots picked up Damien Woody with the 17th overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. Woody was immediately a starter at center for the first two seasons, never missing a game. Woody was part of the stingy offensive line during the Patriots’ run to Super Bowl XXXVI, though it would be the only Super Bowl he won as a starter. Woody left New England after 2003, playing for the Lions and Jets until his retirement in 2011.
9 Willie McGinest
Willie McGinest was one of those Patriots that had already been around for a long time waiting for a championship before 2001 came along. McGinest was formerly a fourth overall pick by New England in 1994 out of USC and made the Pro Bowl early in his career thanks to 11 sacks. McGinest played in just 11 games during the 2001 regular season with six sacks and 25 tackles, though he did have a sack in Super Bowl XXXVI for 18 yards.
8 Matt Light
Though he wasn’t heavily recruited in high school, Matt Light made a name for himself at Purdue because of the way he and the offensive line protected Drew Brees. Light would end up being drafted 48th overall in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Patriots, getting right into the winning ways in his first season. Light played in 17 games, including the playoffs, helping the Patriots win their first Super Bowl.
7 Troy Brown
Another veteran that had been waiting for a championship, Troy Brown originally joined the Patriots in 1993. After having quite a few average seasons, Brown started to see his stats get better in 2000. Then, 2001 became his best season at age 30 when he finished with a team leading 1,199 yards and five touchdowns. Brown would also be the leading receiver for New England in Super Bowl XXXVI, finishing with six catches and 89 yards.
6 Kevin Faulk
A versatile backup with New England for most of his career, Kevin Faulk only started 47 games during his entire NFL career that lasted for more than a decade, but appeared in 161. Faulk had his best season in 2003, but he also had a minor impact in their Super Bowl run in 2001. Faulk finished with 169 rushing yards, 189 receiving yards and three touchdowns during the regular season while adding 14 total yards in Super Bowl XXXVI.
5 Ty Law
The Patriots drafted Michigan cornerback Ty Law with the 23rd overall pick in 1995, and he would end up being one of the best defensive players in franchise history. Law had a terrific season in 2001 when he made the Pro Bowl, finishing with three interceptions (two of which were returned for touchdowns) with a sack and 59 tackles. Law also scored the first touchdown for the Patriots in the Super Bowl with a 47 yard interception return in the second quarter.
4 Lawyer Milloy
Another defensive back with a name that makes you think of justice, Lawyer Milloy was the strong safety that was drafted in the second round of the 1996 NFL Draft out of Washington. Milloy had already made two Pro Bowls by 2001, and then made his third one during their Super Bowl XXXVI run. Milloy had seven total tackles during the big game, and played one more season with New England.
3 Mike Vrabel
Mike Vrabel is one of the rare players on the list that was actually drafted elsewhere, being brought into the league by Pittsburgh in 1997. After four seasons, Vrabel joined the Patriots just in time for their dynasty. Vrabel finally became a starter for the first time in 2001, finishing the regular season with two interceptions, three sacks and 40 tackles. Vrabel also had five tackles during Super Bowl XXXVI.
2 Antowain Smith
Former Houston Cougar Antowain Smith was a first round pick by the Bills back in 1997, where he spent four seasons and collected 2,932 rushing yards with 26 touchdowns. Smith joined the Patriots in 2001 where he became the team’s leading rusher with 1,157 yards and 12 touchdowns, also adding 192 receiving yards. Smith also had 18 carries for 92 yards and one catch for four yards in Super Bowl XXXVI.
1 Drew Bledsoe
Drew Bledsoe at this point will always be the answer to a couple of trivia questions, but still had a fine career. The former first overall pick in 1993 had a record of 63-60 for New England with 29,657 passing yards and 166 touchdowns. In 2001, Bledsoe started just two games before getting injured, and in came Tom Brady. Bledsoe was relegated to a backup role, signing with the Bills the next year. Bledsoe did not play in Super Bowl XXXVI, and finished his career with Dallas in 2006.
After he retired, Bledsoe started a winery with his friend that has been successful, and has also worked with many different charities. Bledsoe hasn’t completely left football, either, as he is an assistant coach for a high school football team in Oregon after finishing his career with 44,611 passing yards and 251 touhdowns.
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