Phil Perry

Six notable moments from Tom Brady's Patriots Hall of Fame induction

Tom Brady's memorable night was filled with emotion and special guests.

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FOXBORO -- While much of the region watched the Celtics take on the Mavericks in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, the Patriots celebrated the greatest player in franchise history with an unprecedented get-together at Gillette Stadium.

In front of thousands of fans, with the proceedings broadcasted on, Tom Brady had a party thrown for him and all of his accomplishments over his two decades in New England. There were megastar musical acts. There was a surprise guest. There were emotional moments for Brady and his teammates. And there was an incredibly warm welcome for a recently-departed head coach.

Here were six of some of the most memorable moments from Brady's big night, culminating in his official induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame...

Allow me to re-introduce myself...

Patriots fans grew accustomed to hearing Jay-Z's song Public Service Announcement blaring over the Gillette Stadium speakers for years as Tom Brady hit the field and jogged down the home team's sideline, punctuating his jaunt with a fist-pump and a scream.

On Wednesday night, the festivities kicked off with Jay-Z performing Brady's favorite pre-game song live and in person. Brady -- dressed in a suit and strolling past the corner where he was always fist-pumping and screaming -- clearly appreciated the gesture, dancing to his spot as the guest of honor right in front of the concert stage.

Fitting start to what was a night propelled forward by all kinds of star power. Kenny Chesney performed his song "The Boys of Fall" later in the night, and the event featured two different acts by comedian (and massive Patriots fan) Bill Burr.

Brady family reflection

It's hard to come up with anything new when it comes to Brady's backstory. He's been arguably the most thoroughly-covered athlete in the history of pro sports. But the in-house team for the Patriots put together an emotional piece that featured Brady's parents (Tom Sr. and Galynn) and his three sisters (Maureen, Nancy and Julie).

It was light at times, with his sisters identifying moments when he was pushed around by other kids in their Northern California neighborhood many years before he became the greatest quarterback to ever play.

But the piece also helped lay the foundation for one of the more poignant themes of the night when his parents recalled Brady's first trip to the Pro Bowl, soon after he won his first Super Bowl. It was then that it became clear he felt he couldn't do everything he had once done with them. Suddenly famous, he was pulled in a variety of directions, and his time was limited.

It was a bittersweet moment for his parents as they looked back. The feeling felt reciprocated by Brady later in the night, when he made his Hall of Fame induction acceptance speech.

He's someone who clearly values the hundreds of relationships he's developed in Foxboro and beyond during his football journey. Many of the people with whom those relationships had been built were staring back at him in person as he spoke at the dais late on Wednesday night.

And when he did he acknowledged that -- as was the case with his family in Hawaii in early 2002 -- he hasn't been able to give them all the attention he wishes he could.

"I wish I had more time," he said tearfully at the end of the night. "I wish I had more time to give you all."

Surprise... Sheriff in town

The biggest surprise guest of the night was Brady's greatest rival, Peyton Manning. "Are you [expletive] kidding me?" Brady asked Manning after the two embraced to loud cheers.

Manning joked that he was always warmly embraced by Patriots fans because he had such a hard time winning in Foxboro. His recollections of watching Brady with the ball in his hands at the ends of games were entertaining, as he painted a picture of himself praying to God to let the Patriots lose because Brady had already won enough.

Maybe the funniest story Manning told was of a time during the 2009 offseason when the two quarterbacks got together to share some tricks of the trade and work out. Throwing to high school kids in Tennessee, they made it clear they wanted their rendezvous to be private.

Manning told them: "If you tell anybody that Tom Brady and I are working out together and that we’re friends, then we’re going to kill all of you.'"

Moss brought to tears

In perhaps one of the most unexpectedly emotional moments of the night, Randy Moss took the stage with some of Brady's best pass-catchers from over the years. As he began to speak of Brady -- with Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman sitting nearby -- the Gillette Stadium crowd erupted with a lengthy standing ovation.

Moss was moved to tears, eventually gathering himself to talk about what he recalled saying soon after arriving in Foxboro.

"Put my locker beside Tom Brady's," Moss said, "and the rest will take care of itself."

Belichick's warm welcome

Troy Brown and Deion Branch took the microphone near the end of the night to say, "Please welcome the greatest head coach of all time: Bill Belichick!"

The Gillette Stadium crowd proceeded to give Belichick a standing ovation for about two minutes. Then after a brief pause as Belichick began to speak, the crowd got a second wind and showered him with cheers for another 30 seconds or so.

"Thanks so much," Belichick said. "That's such a warm, warm welcome. I can't tell you how much it means to me to come back here and see the great Patriot fans. Thank you."

Belichick's speech was loaded with highlights, including a long-winded praising of Brady's ability to limit bad plays. When he heard some light applause -- probably tougher to get the crowd really fired up about mistake-free football than it is memorable highlights -- Belichick perked up: "Yeah! Hell yeah!"

But Belichick's reception after losing his job -- and after what has been widely viewed as a negatively-slanted portrayal in the recently-released "The Dynasty" docuseries -- was one of the most powerful moments of the night.


Some of the biggest cheers of the night came as a result of a pair of Robert Kraft announcements.

“I promise tonight, it will never be worn again," Kraft said. "The number 12 is officially retired.”

Kraft also told the crowd that there will be a 12-foot tall statue of Brady coming to the plaza at Patriot Place during the 2024 season.

At that moment, Brady appeared to tear up as the crowd in attendance chanted his name.

When it was time for Brady to speak, he wanted to make it clear -- despite his image and No. 12 being splashed all over the stadium -- that the night was about the group of people who helped him have the success for which he was being celebrated: family, friends, ownership, teammates, coaches, front-office members, support staff.

He also went out of his way to thank the game of football itself, and to make mention of why he hopes it's a game that young people will continue to value.

"I encourage everyone to play football for the simple reason that it is hard," Brady said. "It's hard when you're young to wake up in the offseason at 6 a.m. to go train and workout, knowing that all your friends are sleeping in and eating pancakes. It's hard when you're on your way to practice, weighed down with all your gear and it's 90 degrees out, and all the other kids are at the pool or at the beach, and your body is already completely exhausted from workouts and two-a-days.

"It's hard to throw, catch, block and tackle and hit kids when they're way bigger and way more developed than you -- only to go home bruised and battered and strained, but knowing that you have to show up again the next day for just the chance to try again.

"But understand this: life is hard. No matter who you are, there are bumps and hits and bruises along the way. My advice is to prepare yourself. Football lessons teach us that success and achievement come from overcoming adversity, and that team accomplishment far exceeds anyone's individual goals."

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