As a gesture of gratitude for their hard work through the coronavirus pandemic, Patriots owner Robert Kraft invited dozens of health care workers from New England to fly to Super Bowl LV with him as his guests.
The Patriots announced the move Tuesday, five days ahead of the game that pits the team's greatest-ever player, Tom Brady, and his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, against Patrick Mahomes and the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs.
The health care workers, who have all been vaccinated and come from across New England, will fly with Kraft and his family on the team plane for the all-expenses paid trip Sunday. The workers were told over a video call Monday, and many seemed taken aback to learn they were joined by Kraft, then at his offer.
"What are you guys doing this weekend?" Kraft asks in the video. Then, "Would you like to go to the Super Bowl?"
"I'm going to the Super Bowl!" one man yells at the end of the video.
Last year, during the pandemic's first surge in the United States, Kraft offered up the plane's services to help fly much-needed personal protective equipment he'd purchased from China to Massachusetts.
The Patriots said in a statement that the goal of the trip was both to thank health care workers for their selfless work caring for people during the pandemic while also drawing attention to the importance of vaccines.
Kraft said in the statement that "it's an honor for us to celebrate these healthcare workers by giving them a well-deserved break for a day and an opportunity to enjoy the Super Bowl, a reality that is only made possible because of the vaccines. We hope that in doing so, others are also encouraged to get vaccinated as they are able."
The health care workers come from a variety of roles, according to the team. The governors of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut each selected four of them, while the remaining 56 were picked from Massachusetts hospitals.
Along with the flight to Tampa Bay, which is the first city that will host its home team in a Super Bowl, and Super Bowl tickets, the health care workers will get a police escort from Gillette Stadium to Logan International Airport, a two-night hotel stay, a gift bag, spending money and more.