Tom Brady reflects on time with Patriots, emotions ahead of anticipated return to Gillette Stadium


“I had two decades of incredible life-changing, altering experiences.”

Foxborough MA: 01-04-20: Some giant signs are in the backround as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) was the center of attention as he did his usual pre game scream to the fans before he headed back in the other direction to get in some pre game throwing. The New England Patriots hosted the Tennessee Titans in an AFC Wildcard Playoff game at Gillette Stadium.
Tom Brady will make his return to Gillette Stadium on Sunday evening. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Tom Brady, much like the entire New England Patriots fanbase, has Sunday afternoon circled on his calendar.

Not only will Sunday mark the start of the Patriots’ 2023 regular season with a Week 1 bout against the Eagles, it also stands as Brady’s long-awaited return to Foxborough.

After announcing his retirement (for a second time) back in February, Brady will be in attendance for Sunday’s game and will be honored as part of a special halftime ceremony.

Speaking on his “Let’s Go!” podcast with Jim Gray, Brady reflected on what a trip back to Gillette Stadium means after playing for 20 seasons in New England. 

“Mr. [Robert] Kraft has been very welcoming to me. So I’m going to have a lot of great friends there,” Brady told Gray. “I’ve had so many people text me and say that they’re excited to see me come back. So it’ll be really a special reunion and I’m excited to get there. I haven’t been back much, just by the way things work out. Your life kinda takes you in different directions.”

Brady did return once to Foxborough after leaving the Patriots in free agency back in March 2020, playing one game against New England as a member of the Buccaneers on Oct. 3, 2021.

Even though Brady received plenty of cheers as an opposing player during that Week 4 matchup, Sunday’s ceremony should offer some closure for Brady after forging most of his Hall-of-Fame career over 20 total seasons with the Patriots.

“A lot of gratitude,” Brady said of his emotions going into Sunday’s event. “I had two decades of incredible life-changing, altering experiences. I have so many memories from my time there. Memories with people there. I’m creating a new memory with people there. To go back to that stadium and bring my kids and my family in a different way. I’ve not been to that stadium in this way ever. I went there as a player. I went there once as a competitor. And now I’m going to go there really as a fan and then I’m going to be there in the future as a broadcaster.

“I think there’s a lot of cool things happening. Again, I think part of life is growing in different ways, expanding in different ways, trying new things and getting outside of your comfort zone. It’s okay. Even the expectations I have for myself. I’m going to work really hard in this part of my career. Knowing that, (expletive), the first time you try something you’re not very good at it. The first time I threw a football, I was not very good at it. The first time that I tried a math equation, I wasn’t very good at it. In different ways, the first time you try anything, it’s not going to be the easiest way, and you’re going to have to keep working at it.

“So, I don’t think it’s going to be hard to be a fan though. I love the sport, and I love the Patriots. So, going up there to see a lot of my friends and family is going to be a great experience.”

Even though the Patriots haven’t offered up many details regarding Brady’s halftime ceremony, Bill Belichick offered up plenty of praise for his longtime QB on Monday morning.

“It’ll be great to see Tom,” Belichick said Monday morning during his conference call with reporters. “Tom’s meant so much to this team, organization, me personally. It was a tremendous experience to be able to coach him and for us to share the things we shared together.

“Certainly recognizing him for all his great achievements here is more than appropriate. Look forward to seeing him and glad that he’s getting a lot of recognition and appreciation for that because he certainly deserves it.”