Lonie Paxton models a “GoPro” video recording device. He works for the video recording company. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)
FOXBORO — It’s one of the greatest celebrations in one of the greatest sports moments in New England history. Now the story can be told by its creator.
After Adam Vinatieri booted a 23-yard field goal in overtime against the Raiders in the final snap ever at Foxboro Stadium, the man who snapped the ball – Lonie Paxton – made a beeline to the end zone, flopped on his back and did a snow angel in the powdery white stuff on the turf.
Paxton, who was in the media workroom Friday to promote the Patriots’ celebration of three Super Bowl titles Sunday at Gillette Stadium, explained exactly why he went into the celebration and repeated it after his snap that led to the game-winning kick of Super Bowl XXXVI.
“It kind of started in the Raider game where it snowed and I had people from out of town that were all California kids,” Paxton said. “They literally brought flip-flops in six inches of snow. It’s like, ‘Well, screw it, we’re just going to do snow angels after in the parking lots when you guys win.’ So that came up in my brain for some reason. I’m like, ‘Hey, are we going to do this after the game?’
“[Defensive lineman] Dave Nugent, I remember, he was going to meet me out there and he never made it. He went to the pile in the middle of the field, and I was the only one, and (it’s) history. It was somewhat planned. The confetti was more of like, ‘Hey, the media has only been talking to me from then until now about a snow angel. Never my snaps, never the production. All the snow angel, so I’ll just give them something for that for the showmanship.’”
Paxton actually admitted Friday that while all of New England remembers his endearing celebrations, including the one in confetti in New Orleans, his recollection isn’t nearly as vivid.
“I actually don’t remember a thing,” Paxton said. “In the moment, you’re just like, ‘OK, this could go one of two ways. It could go very bad or it could go very good, so try to just stay in the middle and don’t lean to one side or the other. Forget about what is happening and just do what you do, be repetitious as a snapper.’ I remember immediately following, the tackles and the cheering and the crying and the after party and the days following and the Pro Bowl. That was cool.”
Paxton is among 22 players who were on three Super Bowl winners with the Patriots and will be honored Sunday in a halftime ceremony. Paxton played on four Super Bowls with the Patriots before leaving for Denver in 2009, signing a five-year, $5.3 million contract, at the time the second-richest contract ever bestowed upon a long snapper in NFL history.
Paxton spends his days now working for “GoPro,” a video recording company and going around the country promoting the many uses of the devices, including some by sports teams. He is married to a former Patriots cheerleader and they have 2-1/2-year-old twins.
The only active players are Tom Brady and Vinatieri. The special 10-year reunion that will include a panel discussion featuring former Patriots DL Richard Seymour and a couple of his teammates at The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon on Saturday, Nov. 1, from 5-6 p.m.
Fans can attend Saturday’s panel discussion in the Grand Hall by purchasing an admission ticket to The Hall at Patriot Place. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for children ages 5-12. Tickets can be purchased online at www.thehallatpatriotplace.com or at the door. Please note there will be no autographs at Saturday’s event.
A first-round pick (sixth overall) in the 2001 NFL Draft, Seymour played eight seasons with the Patriots (2001-2008) and an additional four seasons with the Oakland Raiders (2009-2012). He is a seven-time Pro Bowl and five-time All-Pro selection. When the Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX at the end of the 2004 season, Seymour became one of 22 Patriots players to earn a third Super Bowl title in four years (2001-2004).
The Patriots became just the second team in the Super Bowl era (1966-present) to accomplish the feat and the only franchise to do so in the salary cap era (1994-present). Seymour also joined an exclusive group of players to claim back-to-back world championships, which has been done only eight times in NFL history.
This season marks the 10th anniversary of the Patriots third Super Bowl championship. On Sunday, the Patriots will honor 17 players who captured the franchise’s three Super Bowl championships with a halftime ceremony during the team’s game vs. the Broncos at Gillette Stadium. Three of the players expected to return to Gillette Stadium this weekend are also the last three players inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame: Troy Brown (2012), Tedy Bruschi (2013) and Ty Law (2014).
Patriots QB Tom Brady and Indianapolis Colts K Adam Vinatieri are still playing. The only other former players unable to attend Sunday’s reunion are currently coaching. Larry Izzo (New York Giants) and Mike Vrabel (Houston Texans) are currently assistant coaches in the NFL and Adrian Klemm is an assistant coach at UCLA.
Three-time Super Bowl Champions to be honored at halftime on Sunday
1. Joe Andruzzi 6. Je’Rod Cherry 11. Willie McGinest 16. Roman Phifer
2. Tom Ashworth 7. Kevin Faulk 12. Stephen Neal 17. Richard Seymour
3. Troy Brown 8. Ted Johnson 13. Patrick Pass
4. Tedy Bruschi 9. Ty Law 14. David Patten
5. Matt Chatham 10. Matt Light 15. Lonie Paxton
Every year, the Patriots honor their alumni and legends of the game as a part of the NFL Homecoming initiative. Earlier this year, in a prime time game against the New York Jets, the Patriots honored Law as their 2014 Hall of Fame inductee.
The Hall is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.