FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The red helmet was buckled, the Segway was charged up, and it was time to buzz around Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place. The experience was different from what was expected.
It started with a 30-minute tutorial on how to operate a Segway before we headed around Gillette Stadium and the surrounding area. My goal in taking part in the offered-to-the-public-for-a-cost guided tour was to see if it could help in daily reporting on the Patriots.
As we began our journey, Connie, the guide, provided an earpiece so she could be heard throughout the tour (she was terrific at explaining everything, weaving in some of the history of the area/team). The tour started at the gate outside of Gillette Stadium, continued to the train tracks, before circling back to the area where coach Bill Belichick and players enter the stadium each day. The sign on the door reminds players of four things when they enter the facility:
* Do your job
* Put the team first
* Be attentive
* Work hard
That was one of the neat parts of the tour, the point where any football follower wished they could hop off the Segway and walk through that door. Bill Belichick's message to players is simple and direct.
The tour continued around the practice fields and Dana-Farber Fieldhouse, before we arrived at the south marketplace of Patriot Place. We pulled up at the Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog behind the Bass Pro Shops, a tranquil spot that turned out to be one of the favorite parts of the overall experience.
Soon enough, we were headed to the north side, and by that point, the comfort level on the Segway was much greater from when the journey started. At one point, we stopped at the spot -- now in the retail area near a trophy store -- where Adam Vinatieri made his "Snow Bowl" kick against the Raiders at Foxboro Stadium, and Gil Santos' call of that memorable moment could be heard through the earpiece. Nice touch.
In all, the tour covers two hours and a lot of ground, although it never goes inside Gillette Stadium to highlight the inner workings of how Belichick and players go about their business. That might leave some wanting a bit more.
I had never been on a Segway, which turned out to be more fun than anticipated. Unlike a golf cart, where you're sitting down, you stand up while riding the Segway and so maintaining balance is especially important.
Thinking that I would be posting a recap of the experience on the blog, I asked Connie, the tour guide, to snap a photo before we reached our end point.
Not my finest moment, but figuring it might provide a laugh, it's posted here.