FOXBOROUGH — With Jay-Z’s “Public Service Announcement” blasting through the Gillette Stadium speakers Sunday, Tom Brady ran the length of the field, pumped his fist upon reaching the end zone, and yelled, “Let’s [expletive] go!”
The sequence is one Patriots fans know well. Brady’s done it countless times as a Patriot — and once as a Buccaneer — starting each of his games at Gillette Stadium the same way.
Even though he hung up his cleats “for good” in February, Brady couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do it once more, which kicked off the special halftime ceremony the Patriots planned to thank the seven-time Super Bowl champion for his two-decade tenure with the team.
“That run out was a little harder today than it used to be,” Brady joked during his remarks to the sellout crowd. “I’m not quite in game shape.”
Brady and Patriots owner Robert Kraft addressed the crowd during the eight-minute presentation, which began with a video tribute chronicling memories from Brady’s career. “He transcended the game,” read the jumbotron, “turning a longshot into a legend, turning the gridiron into a battlefield, turning fans into fanatics.”
When Brady announced his retirement, Kraft immediately knew he wanted to host Brady at Gillette Stadium for the season opener. But, as he noted during his short speech, a halftime ceremony is not enough time to properly acknowledge Brady’s contributions to the team. So, Kraft decided to waive the four-year waiting period for the Patriots Hall of Fame, and induct Brady next summer — June 12, 2024.
The announcement was met with raucous cheers. As was nearly everything Brady did, starting with his pregame introduction when he stood at the top of the freshly renovated lighthouse, ringing a newfangled bell, with his three children.
When Brady took the podium in his No. 12 jersey during halftime, fans started chanting, “Bra-dy! Bra-dy!” Many held up homemade “Thank You, Tom” signs.
Brady, who watched the game with his family in Kraft’s suite, used his time on stage to return the thank you, shouting out the Kraft family, coach Bill Belichick, his former teammates, and, of course, the fanbase. Among the former Patriots on the field in attendance were Malcolm Butler, Jamie Collins, Kevin Faulk, and Darrelle Revis.
To close his speech, Brady signed off with the following message: “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 I am a Patriot for life.”
He eventually walked off the field, to the tune of Bon Jovi’s “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.”
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