Football fans take in Saints, Patriots practices at The Greenbri - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Football fans take in Saints, Patriots practices at The Greenbrier this week

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Saints and Patriots fans enjoy training camp at The Greenbrier. Saints and Patriots fans enjoy training camp at The Greenbrier.
Fans get up close with players during training camp at The Greenbrier. Fans get up close with players during training camp at The Greenbrier.
Hundreds of fans flock to training camp at The Sports Performance Center fields at The Greenbrier Hundreds of fans flock to training camp at The Sports Performance Center fields at The Greenbrier
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was a popular player during training camp at The Greenbrier Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was a popular player during training camp at The Greenbrier
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a fan favorite during training camp at The Greenbrier. Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a fan favorite during training camp at The Greenbrier.

Don’t look for any New England Patriots players to be hanging out by the pool or playing a round of golf on The Old White while at The Greenbrier this week.

Head coach Bill Belichick said the trip to West Virginia is all about business.

“We’re here for one reason – to improve our football team,” he said. “It’s training camp. The players are coming out and competing hard on the field."

The Patriots joined with the New Orleans Saints Aug. 19 for the first of two days of a combined training camp at the Sports Performance Center in White Sulphur Springs.

“An important part of training camp is meetings and preparation, rest and recovery. We don’t want those things to take a backseat to anything else. That’s what we’re here for – this is our job and our living. We’re a very competitive team so we want to get the most out of it.”

NFL football is big business. Annual revenue for the league is estimated $9 billion.

Hundreds of fans showed up on the first day of drills, with as many fans wearing Patriots gear as Saints gear, although the Saints have had a year to build its fan base in the Mountain State. They may take some time to play golf or take a dip at the resort.

Some families sported both squads’ colors. One family, lifelong Patriots fans originally from the Boston area, made the trip to The Greenbrier from their new home in Florida.

Fans munched on concession-style foods and drinks and sought autographs after practice. Several players from both teams accommodated fans carrying photos, football and other memorabilia.

The football facilities at The Greenbrier received high praise from the reigning Super Bowl champion head coach.

“It’s great to be down here and a great opportunity for our football team,” said Belichick. "It’s a beautiful facility. (New Orleans head coach) Sean (Payton) and the Saints showed us around (Tuesday night). I think it’s a great layout, the fields are beautiful. All of the facilities have been great and the Saints have been hospitable and accommodating. The Greenbrier setting is pretty unique.

 “It’s a great opportunity as individuals to improve and for our team as a whole to improve,” Belichick added. “The Saints are a quality team. I have all of the respect in the world for the Saints, the entire organization and how they do things. It will be a great three days.”

Payton continued to sing the praises of The Greenbrier football facilities and his team’s annual three-week stay in West Virginia.

“Plus, we get to train in better temperatures here than in New Orleans,” he said. “The setup here is perfect. We can train with no distractions. It’s a really good relationship.”

Two of the most popular players at camp were the signal callers – future hall of fame quarterbacks Drew Brees of the Saints and Tom Brady of the Patriots. Brady has been in the national spotlight for the past several months due to an investigation into alleged deflated football during the AFC championship game in January.

In fact, Brady’s attendance for camp in West Virginia was in jeopardy as of late Tuesday night because of a hearing in New York City earlier that day. But the next day, he stood on the field in West Virginia, drawing supportive fans holding “Free Brady” signs and a gaggle of national reporters, including at least two from ESPN.

The Saints and Patriots will meet in a preseason game in New Orleans Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

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