Now that Tom Brady is no longer a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he can go all-in on his love for the New England Patriots.
The former Patriots quarterback, who retired for good earlier this year after a three-year stint with the Bucs, returned to Gillette Stadium on Sunday for the first time as a former player. The Patriots rolled out the red carpet for the legendary QB, honoring him both before their season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles and at halftime with a ceremony in which Robert Kraft announced that Brady will be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame next June.
Brady seemed to fully enjoy the festivities, whipping the crowd into a frenzy when he declared himself a "Patriot for life" in a halftime speech. In an interview with Patriots.com following the ceremony, the 46-year-old couldn't hide his emotions while reflecting on the day's events.
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"A surreal day,” Brady said. "Tough to obviously put into words what this entire region has -- how they’re a part of my life, how they’re a part of all the incredible memories I have. I had a great time growing up as a kid in California, but I really grew up here in New England.
“Living here in Massachusetts … I wouldn’t change a day in my life because of the incredible people that have come into my life. This is a very special day for my family, for myself, for a lot of people for a lot of reasons, so I’m just happy we get to be back here and celebrate something really special.”
Brady's impact in New England can't be overstated; he won six Super Bowls over 20 seasons with the Patriots and delivered countless positive memories for multiple generations of fans. While he may not have left the organization on the best terms when he departed as a free agent in March 2020, time appears to have healed all wounds -- especially now that he's retired.
"I feel it every single time,” Brady said about how Patriots fans feel about him. “Even when I came back here a few years ago (as a member of the Bucs in 2021), I felt it. But today was unbelievable.
"One thing we love in New England is we love our sports heroes, and we love the people that have brought a lot of fun moments to our lives, and I’m so happy to be a part of those moments along with all my great teammates, my great coaches. (This is) the best organization this league has ever seen.”
In case those sentiments weren't proof enough that Brady feels an eternal connection to the Patriots, the future Hall of Famer shared a gushing Instagram post that ended with the words, "Foxboro Forever."
The Patriots fell to the Eagles 25-20 as Brady looked on from Robert Kraft's owner's box. But on the "honoring Brady" front, it sounds like Sunday was a smashing success.