The New England Patriots' team plane is heading to the Super Bowl for the third time in four years. But it won't have any players on board this time around.
Instead, one of the Kraft family's two Boeing 767s will transport 76 vaccinated healthcare workers from New England to Tampa Bay, where they'll watch Tom Brady and the Buccaneers compete against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.
The healthcare workers, who come from all six New England states and have performed a variety of roles to aid COVID-19 relief efforts during the pandemic, are among the approximately 7,500 vaccinated healthcare employees who will attend Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium as guests of the NFL.
They'll travel from Boston to Tampa on the same plane that flew to China in early April 2020 to transport more than 1 million N95 protective masks back to Massachusetts.
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"Ten months later, 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," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement Tuesday. "We hope that in doing so, others are also encouraged to get vaccinated as they are able."
The Kraft family purchased the two Patriots-themed planes prior to the 2017 season, and while the planes are the team's primary mode of transportation for away games, they've also been put to good use during the pandemic.
The New England healthcare workers should be treated to a great game, as Brady -- who won six Super Bowl titles in nine appearances over two decades with the Patriots -- squares off against reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.