Brothers help Andruzzi cap emotional seasonPosted: Monday February 04, 2002 8:59 PM
Updated: Monday February 04, 2002 10:10 PM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The New England Patriots stood, stared and prayed for 5 seconds as Adam Vinatieri's kick aimed for the uprights -- an agonizing eternity in football time, but nothing, all things considered, for guard Joe Andruzzi.
For several hours on Sept. 11, Andruzzi didn't know if his three firefighting brothers had survived the attack on the World Trade Center. They did, and they were with him at the Super Bowl on Sunday when Vinatieri's field goal on the final play gave the Patriots a 20-17 victory against the St. Louis Rams.
"It meant a whole lot to me, personally, to have the support of my three brothers here, and my family," Andruzzi said after the game. "It is just a great feeling to have their support behind me, especially my brothers. They've been through a lot. This is for us."
They knew that Billy and Mark were helping with the rescue effort after responding to the early alarms. The family eventually learned that Jim, whose firehouse is in lower Manhattan, was on the 20th floor of the North Tower when the other one collapsed; he escaped just before the second tower came down.
Many of his friends and co-workers did not.
Andruzzi said Sunday night that he had dedicated the victory to "my brothers, the FDNY and everybody out there at the Trade Center tragedy." The Andruzzi brothers, who were cheered on the field at Foxboro Stadium when the NFL resumed play on Sept. 23, were invited to the Super Bowl as special guests of NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
Delayed a week to fit the rescheduled Sept. 16 games, with a new logo that ditched the Mardi Gras theme for a tricolor silhouette of the United States, the game featured the theme "Heroes, Hope and Homeland." In order to thwart the potential for terrorism, the U.S. Secret Service declared the game a National Security Special Event and put the authorities on unprecedented alert.
Fans were urged to arrive five hours before kickoff to get through a Superdome perimeter reinforced with concrete barriers, chain-link fences and metal detectors. Soldiers with rifles manned the checkpoints and sharpshooters patrolled the roof of the domed colossus.
A no-fly zone was in effect over the area, traffic was diverted from a downtown airport for the day and Interstate 10, which runs by the Dome, was closed to truck traffic.
Inside, the pregame and halftime ceremonies were heavy on the red, white and blue, with the Boston Pops playing patriotic songs and Paul McCartney offering his anthem, Freedom.
When the Irish band U2 sang its Where the Streets Have No Name during a halftime concert, the names of the Sept. 11 victims were projected on a screen hanging from the roof of the Superdome and onto the building's walls.
There wasn't an Andruzzi on the list.
All of the Andruzzis are patriots, but Joe is the only one whose uniform says it explicitly. In a Superdome awash with red, white and blue, he could be forgiven for thinking the fans were all there to cheer for New England.
After Vinatieri's kick, red, white and blue confetti shot out of cannons sprinkled down to the turf like a star-spangled blizzard in celebration of the country and the football team that hails from its birthplace.
"At this time in our country, when people who are banding together for a higher cause can feel this special spirit of America, we're proud to be a symbol of that in some small way," New England owner Robert Kraft said. "We're all patriots. And, tonight, the Patriots are world champions."