Tom Brady is returning to Gillette Stadium. But this time (and for the first time) it’s as a fan not a player.
As Sunday’s matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles approaches, the Patriots’ 2023 regular season starter also serves as Brady’s long-awaited return to Foxborough after announcing his retirement (for a second time) in February.
The seven-time Super Bowl champ (six of those rings are with the Patriots) will not only be in the stands for Sunday’s game, he will also be the spotlight of a special halftime ceremony. While most of his Hall of Fame-destined career happened on the Foxborough field during his 20 seasons with the Pats, Brady closed out his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"The greatest player in the history of the game played right here in Foxborough, and I'm happy to tell you…I invited him back to come here and be with us at the opening game," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement posted by the team.
The GOAT quarterback doesn’t take this invitation lightly, recently reflecting on what returning back means on his “Let’s Go!” podcast with Jim Gray. “Mr. [Robert] Kraft has been very welcoming to me. So I’m going to have a lot of great friends there,” Brady told Gray. “I’ve had so many people text me and say that they’re excited to see me come back. So it’ll be really a special reunion and I’m excited to get there.”
“A lot of gratitude,” he explained of how he feels stepping into Gillette again. “I had two decades of incredible life-changing, altering experiences. I have so many memories from my time there. Memories with people there. I’m creating a new memory with people there. To go back to that stadium and bring my kids and my family in a different way. I’ve not been to that stadium in this way ever. I went there as a player. I went there once as a competitor. And now I’m going to go there really as a fan and then I’m going to be there in the future as a broadcaster.”
Yes, the next time Pats fans will see Brady is behind a desk. Brady is under contract to join Fox Sports as the network's lead football analyst thanks to a 10-year deal reportedly worth $375 million - a proper place for a player who left the game as the NFL’s career leader in yards passing (89,214) and touchdowns (649). Brady is also the only player to win more than five Super Bowls, has been MVP five times, and holds marks for regular-season wins (251), Super Bowl appearances (10), playoff games and wins (48, 35), as well as playoff yards (13,400) and TDs (88) – not bad for a 199th Patriots draft pick in 2000, behind six other quarterbacks.
“Tom’s meant so much to this team, organization, me personally, Belichick said during a conference call with reporters, as reported by Boston.com. “Certainly recognizing him for all his great achievements here is more than appropriate. Look forward to seeing him and glad that he’s getting a lot of recognition and appreciation for that because he certainly deserves it.”
If you are planning on watching the game, head to one of our favorite sports bars in Boston to catch all the action.