Tom Brady made an emotional return to New England on Sunday as he declared himself a “Patriot for life.”
Brady retired from professional football earlier this year after spending three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the three-time NFL MVP will always be remembered for his time in New England with the Patriots.
While playing for the Patriots, Brady was able to bring six Super Bowl titles to New England and turned the franchise into a footballing powerhouse.
“When Tom Brady announced his retirement after 23 NFL seasons, there was only one place I wanted him to be on opening day – right here at Gillette Stadium with 65,000 fans,” said Patriots owner Robert Kraft as he introduced Brady to the packed-out venue for a special half-time ceremony during the match against the Philadelphia Eagles to honor the quarterback.
“In the 103-year history of the NFL, nearly 27,000 players have appeared in games, and we know the greatest one ever to play in that time is right here in Tom Brady.”
Once the applause and cheers had finally died down, Brady was able to address those in attendance.
“That run out was a little longer today than it used to be – I’m not quite in game shape but it’s impossible for me to be in this stadium, full of you amazing fans, with some of the best teammates, with my family and all my friends, and not run out like I did for 20 years,” Brady told the New England crowd as he received an effusive reception from the crowd.
“I was so fortunate to be drafted here two decades ago – 23 years to be exact – not even knowing where New England was on the map and not that we put it on the map, but I think a lot more people in the US know where the New England Patriots play.”
Brady set nearly every imaginable franchise passing record with the Patriots, leading the team to 17 division titles and 219 regular-season wins.
“All our lives take us on different journeys, they take us to different places, they bring different people into our lives but one thing I am sure of and that will never change is that I am a Patriot for life,” said Brady.
Kraft also announced that he will be waiving the four-year wait period to be inducted into the Patriots’ Hall of Fame and Brady will be inducted in a first of its kind ceremony at Gillette Stadium next year.
“I love you guys so much, and I’ll see you next summer,” Brady concluded.
The Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl since Brady departed and the team’s opening NFL game of the 2023/2024 season ended in defeat as the Philadelphia Eagles departed the Gillette Stadium with a 25-20 victory.
The Eagles got off to a flying start when Darius Slay intercepted Mac Jones’ attempted pass. Philadelphia’s cornerback charged down the field to score a touchdown off the 70-yard interception.
DeVonta Smith added a touchdown late on in the first quarter from a Jalen Hurts pass as Philadelphia took a 16-0 lead after the opening 15 minutes.
The Patriots rallied with a 14-point second quarter. Touchdowns from Hunter Henry and Kendrick Bourne, both from Jones passes, brought the Patriots within two points of the Eagles and a potential turnaround.
However, following the break, Eagles kicker Jake Elliott piled on another nine points to the Eagles’ tally to make it 25-14 and put Philadelphia in complete control.
The Patriots weren’t completely done and Bourne added a second touchdown from another Jones pass but it wasn’t to be enough as the Eagles held on to a precious opening game win.