The former quarterback, who played 20 seasons with the team and won six Super Bowls, reunited with former teammates and fans during the halftime tribute
Tom Brady got a “fitting farewell!"
The retired NFL star, 46, was honored by the New England Patriots at halftime during their game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in a touching ceremony, in which Brady had a chance to thank the fans who cheered him on for 20 seasons as the team retired his jersey number 12.
After he was introduced, a jersey-clad Brady ran out on the field to join children Jack, 16, Benjamin, 13, and Vivian, 10 — all of whom were also wearing his jersey — at the podium. He opened his speech by teasing that the “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 a stadium full of you amazing fans with some of the best teammates, with my family, with all my friends and not run out like I did for 20 years,” he said.
“This is an incredible celebration for me, for our family, for my teammates, for all of us to come back and thank you guys for what you've done for us,” Brady said of the ceremony held in his honor.
The NFL legend reflected on joining the Patriots in 2000 — when he didn't know where New England was — and how far the team has come since then.
“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,” he said before humbly bragging about his former team, “And not that we put it on the map, but I think a lot more people in the U.S. know where the New England Patriots play.”
After thanking everyone involved in making the Patriots the team it is, Brady noted, “Nobody 23 years ago would imagine that this journey would bring us here today” with six Super Bowl championships.
“We had a lot of countless memories in this stadium,” the retired quarterback recounted. “Celebrating wins against great teams in Foxborough weather like today where we love, love seeing the opponents come in and be a little worried about what the conditions were going to be like.”
“We dealt with whatever came our way. We dealt with a lot of adversities, and it toughened us up. And we as a team represented you guys. Every time we took the field,” Brady added. “It's one of my core beliefs there's nothing significant in life that can be accomplished as an individual. It's always about the team.
“We build a culture of teammates that carry things. They care about each other and they care about winning. And if you didn't care about those two things, you did not last year very long. And we were very happy to play against you.”
“So I think we proved to America what teamwork is all about,” Brady continued. “We proved that believing in each other, believing in playing for this community and believing in playing for a common mission, we were able to pour out six of those banners and celebrate them in this stadium.”
“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 and that will never change is that I am a patriot for life!” Brady proudly exclaimed.
Plans had been in the works since earlier this year to welcome back Brady, but most of the details had been kept under wraps, according to NBC Sports Boston.
Earlier this week, however, Kraft Sports & Entertainment COO Jim Nolan revealed on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak & Bertrand show that it would be a halftime ceremony.
"Everyone here is really excited to have Tom back. We didn't have a chance to give him a fitting farewell when he left New England," Nolan said per NBC Sports Boston. "We're excited for our fans to express their appreciation of Tom on Sunday."
For the iconic quarterback who won six Super Bowl championships with the Patriots, the trip back to Foxborough was highly anticipated.
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"It will be a special reunion," Brady said last week on his podcast Let’s Go! with Tom Brady, Larry Fitzgerald and Jim Gray on SiriusXM. "I'm excited to get there. I haven't been back much.”
He added, "I had two decades of incredible life-altering experiences. I have so many memories from my time there," he added. "I'm creating a new memory with the people there and to go back to that stadium and bring my kids and my family in a different way, you know. I haven't been to that stadium in this way ever. I went there as a player. I went once as a competitor and now I'm going to go there as a fan. I will be there in the future as a broadcaster."
During the ceremony, Brady was also reunited with many of his former teammates, including Hall of Fame cornerback Ty Law.
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