Word spreads. Kraft finds it both flattering and vaguely humorous that at the end of Patriots games, opposing players will approach him. "A guy will come up to me and say, 'Mr. Kraft, you wear the best suits in the league,' and I'll think to myself, 'Is he a free agent?' And usually they are."
Yet the grandest test of Patriot Culture remains. New England has spent five months swatting aside talk of winning every game and instead addressing only the next one. "I'm not unaware [of the historical element]," Belichick, in no small admission, said before the San Diego game. There is no need for circumlocution; the game and the quest are one.