The New York Times — February 1, 2008

N.F.L. ROUNDUP: Petty Already Rocking Long Before Halftime
By Karen Crouse
The New York Times — February 1, 2008

PHOENIX — The Giants and the New England Patriots will be busy fine-tuning their game plans Sunday when the halftime entertainment, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, takes the stage for a 12-minute set. Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, a self-avowed fan of the band, was not going to be summarily denied this high note of Super Bowl XLII. He said he would play Petty’s songs in his office while he prepared for his fourth Super Bowl in seven seasons.

Petty, who met with the news media Thursday, smiled when told his work was serving as Belichick’s soundtrack for this Super Bowl. “Well, it’s never kept anyone from winning,” Petty said.

With his shoulder-length sandy blond hair and mosslike beard, the drumstick-thin Petty looked like a twig from Patriots left tackle Matt Light’s family tree. Petty’s resemblance to an athlete apparently begins and ends there. Growing up, Petty said, “I was a very poor athlete.”

He does not profess to be an avid sportsman, although he has not lost his Florida roots. “In the college division we favor the Gators,” said the 57-year-old Petty, who grew up in Gainesville.

Patriots tight end Kyle Brady said he could not hear a Petty song without being transported back to the summers of his Pennsylvania adolescence, when he and four buddies would squeeze into a red Nissan Sentra and drive to the beach in Ocean City, Md.

“That was the big spot for the high school and college kids to go down to the first couple weeks in June,” Brady, 36, said. “And I still remember: we’d listen to his songs, like ‘Runnin’ Down a Dream’ the whole way down to the beach, and it was great.”

Brandon London, a 23-year-old receiver on the Giants’ practice squad, was asked if he had any Petty tunes on his iPod playlist. “Who is Tom Petty?” he said. “Isn’t he the racecar driver?”

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