One Patriot's lament

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Troy Brown walks, smiling, into the Renaissance Boston Hotel, which is a pooched punt's distance from Gillette Stadium.

Brown, who played for the New England Patriots for 15 seasons and caught 557 passes, is wearing a blinding piece of bling that goes above (and far beyond) most fashion statements. It's the ring he received after the Patriots won their third Super Bowl, XXXIX, over the Philadelphia Eagles.

He would be wearing one with four huge diamonds, he insisted, if the Patriots had embraced their perfect regular-season run more openly in the 2007 season.

"We should have acknowledged the fact that we were undefeated," he said last week. "Tom Brady, myself or somebody should have stepped up and said: 'We are undefeated. It's a great thing. But we have a lot of work that's undone.'

"We spent more time and energy trying to cover that fact up and not really talk about it, [rather than] try to just acknowledge it and move along."

As it turned out, the Patriots fell one quarter short of an unprecedented 19-0 season when they lost to the New York Giants 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII. Like the Indianapolis Colts
and New Orleans Saints of 2009, the Patriots consistently downplayed their destiny -- to their detriment, Brown said.

"I just felt it put more pressure on us," he said, "and more tension in the room by just not coming out and saying, 'Yeah, we are the first team to go 17-0.' Every time that somebody interviews, just say it and put it out there and get it over with. And, boom, there's no elephant in the room."

What did that denial cost the tight-lipped Patriots?

Brown winced and said, "The Super Bowl."

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.