Patriots embrace team concept

— -- The Super Bowl always comes down to the team that's more disciplined and unselfish. A team must be committed to itself and nothing else to taste the spoils of victory, and the New England Patriots have embraced that thought process. They've been this way since the 2001 season, when they entered the field at Super Bowl XXXVI as a team instead of being introduced individually.

That gesture showed how important the accomplishments of the team ranked over the individual. I bet that to a man this team doesn't care about the personal accolades that can come with playing football as much as winning. It shows in the players' dedication to film study and in their willingness to move around and change their roles.

This team doesn't have debacles or meltdowns. The Pats haven't won all these games because of luck or by accident. They've won it because of their attitude.

How many other teams could weather the loss of its two starting cornerbacks and then help the team by bringing in one of its top receivers and converting him to nickel cornerback? How many teams have a veteran receiver who has tasted the level of success that Troy Brown has and would put the time in to learn the defensive playbook and responsibilities? How many teams foster enough of a team atmosphere that this isn't even looked at as odd by the players of his team?

The Patriots have excelled over the past few years in terms of fostering that team atmosphere and that's why this week has been filled with people calling them a dynasty. The only thing this team cares about is winning and that's reflected by the attitudes and decisions of players, coaches and front office personnel throughout the organization.

The Patriots are the great ambassadors of team and I'm hoping a victory on Sunday will cause a ripple effect from the NFL on down to high school in the way teams are put together. Right now there's too many individuals and self-promoters out there who forget that it's all about the team. Maybe now some of that will dissipate and the team will become the focus in sports again.

This may be a boring team that doesn't give good quotes or get talked about off the field, but the people of Boston are appreciative and enjoy the championship parades they get to throw.

A running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1987-94, Merril Hoge contributes regularly to Insider.