FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady ran out of the tunnel again to the cheers of New England fans and returned Sunday to the place where he became one of the NFL’s greatest players, thanking Patriots fans for their support. “Another day in this stadium that I will never forget.”
With a record six Super Bowl trophies for New England, Brady took to the field at halftime of the first game of the season against the Philadelphia Eagles and declared himself a “lifelong patriot.”
“No one could have imagined 23 years ago that this journey would lead us to where we are today,” said Brady, a 2000 sixth-round draft pick who has won six NFL Most Valuable Player Awards and five Super Bowl MVPs. He led New England to 17 division titles in 19 seasons.
“Our lives take us on different journeys. They take us to different places and bring different people into our lives,” Brady said. “But one thing I’m sure will never change is that I will always be a patriot.”
Brady made his debut atop the stadium’s new beacon on Sunday, ringing the bell to the excitement of rain-soaked fans to mark the start of the festivities. Patriots owner Robert Kraft announced that the team will waive the four-year waiting period and induct Brady into the team’s Hall of Fame next summer.
As the 199th overall pick in the 2000 draft, Brady inherited the starting job after Drew Bledsoe was injured the following year. Brady led the Patriots to the Super Bowl title that year and went on to win five more championships over the next two decades, as well as three more AFC titles.
But his relationship with coach Bill Belichick soured and they began arguing behind the scenes about who should get credit for the success of the most productive dynasty in the Super Bowl era.
Brady left the team as a free agent in 2020 for Tampa Bay and led the Buccaneers to a championship in his first year; the Patriots have a 25-win record since Brady left 26 losses and yet to win a playoff game.
Brady, who retired after last season, holds records in more than a dozen categories, including most regular-season and postseason wins, passing yards and touchdown passes.
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