The Patriots departed Friday afternoon for Colorado, but not before the coaching staff delivered an important message to players: Don't indulge in Denver.
Thanks to the state's recent legalization of recreational marijuana, reporters couldn't help but ask about the potential temptation that creates. But players made it clear their trip to Denver isn't for pleasure.
"It's a business trip," New England running back LeGarrette Blount said, referring to Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Broncos. "Nobody is going to care about that. [Coach Bill Belichick] told us, basically, 'Don't go out there and be stupid.' Really good advice."
Quarterback Tom Brady echoed those sentiments, adding that he hopes his teammates won't be tempted to indulge. "This is a very important game for us,'' he said, "and it's a business trip."
Flying out after Friday's final practice gives the Patriots an extra day to get adjusted to the time-zone difference and change in altitude. But it remains to be seen if leaving a day earlier will help.
"I'm sure if there's an advantage to that or any of that, that our training staff and nutritionist and coaching staff made the decision for us to go out a day early on purpose," receiver Julian Edelman said. "That's their job."
Belichick, however, said the team has departed for previous road trips on Friday "multiple times."
When asked if there's anything players can do to prepare for the altitude, he replied: "I think we've been doing it all year. That's what being a well-conditioned athlete is -- ready to play in different conditions."
Belichick avoided discussing whether he talked to his players about legalized pot in Denver. "I think we know what the NFL policy is on that," he said. But one thing he has stressed to his young team is "the need to win."
"It's as simple as that," Belichick said. "Denver is a unique opponent. They have their own style of play. We have our matchups against them that are different from any other team we match up against. I'm just trying to do the best I can to get our team ready to go out there and compete against the Broncos, trying to tell them what we need to do to win."