Tom Brady enshrined into Patriots Hall of Fame during star-studded night


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady brought the New England Patriots endless memories and six Super Bowl trophies during his two-decade run with the team.

The Patriots made sure his induction into the franchise’s Hall of Fame was a celebration unlike it had ever thrown before.

Dozens of Brady’s former teammates and coaches, spanning multiple eras of Patriots history joined thousands of fans and celebrities including Jay-Z and Bon Jovi on Wednesday night to salute Brady as the 35th person to be enshrined into the team’s hall.

“Patriots nation, it’s good to be home,” Brady said.

Before Brady spoke, team owner Robert Kraft brought Brady to tears when he announced that his No. 12 would never be worn by another Patriots player.

“The No. 12 is now officially retired,” Kraft said.

Kraft also announced that a 12-foot bronze statue of Brady was being commissioned and it would be placed outside the Patriots Hall of Fame later this year.

In a night that felt like a Patriots family reunion, the biggest moment was reserved before Brady’s speech when he was reunited with former Patriots coach Bill Belichick. It included an extended ovation for Belichick, who parted ways with the team after the 2023 season.

“It was a tremendous honor for me to draft Tom and coach Tom for 20 years,” Belichick told the crowd. “Everything he brought to the team, it was really an honor for me to be involved with that.”

Brady weighed in on the never-ending debate about whether he or Belichick was most responsible Patriots success during their time together.

“It wasn’t me. It wasn’t you. It was us,” Brady said. “Let me make it clear. There is no other coach I’d rather play for than Bill Belichick.”

The evening began with a red carpet featuring a who’s who of Brady’s 20 seasons with the Patriots, including Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Randy Moss, Vince Wilfork, Drew Bledsoe and Rob Gronkowski, among others. It also included Brady’s parents, Tom Sr. and Galynn Brady.

The official ceremony inside Gillette Stadium was kicked off by a smoke-filled performance by rapper Jay-Z of his 2003 “Public Service Announcement,” which Brady used as entrance music when he’d jogged onto the field to warmup before games.

On this night, Brady emerged from near the stage at the end of Jay-Z’s performance, walking through the section reserved for the night’s special guests before taking a seat on stage himself.

There he watched video tributes from his competitors over the years, including Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, Charles Woodson and Jason Taylor. There were also video appearances by former New York Giants Michael Strahan and Eli Manning, who were booed by fans who haven’t forgotten how the Giants spoiled the Patriots’ bid for a perfect season with their upset in the 2007 Super Bowl. They defeated Brady and company again in the 2011 Super Bowl.

Other video cameos included some of Boston’s most celebrated celebrities, such as Red Sox great David Ortiz and Matt Damon.

The No. 199 pick in the 2000 draft, Brady inherited the starting job in his second season in New England when Bledsoe, the former No. 1 overall pick, was injured and led the Patriots to a Super Bowl championship that year. He won five more titles over the next two decades.

Back with Brady again, Bledsoe joked that Brady didn’t follow the No. 1 rule as his backup.

“You were the worst backup quarterback in the history of the NFL,” Bledsoe said. “You never learned that when I got healthy, that you were supposed to go sit back down.”

There were emotional moments. Like when some of Brady’s top playmakers — Moss, Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Wes Welker joined Brady on stage.

Moss was moved to tears as the crowd showered him a two-minute ovation. Moss recalled how when he arrived in New England in 2007 he knew he had to be close to Brady.

“Put my locker beside Tom Brady’s and the rest will take care of itself,” Moss said.

There were also surprise in-person guests, like Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning participating in a sit down discussion with Brady and the night’s host Mike Tirico to discuss the quarterbacks’ on-field clashes over the years.

Manning revealed how he never counted the Patriots out when his teams faced Brady, especially when Brady had the ball with a chance to win late in games.

“I was praying on the sidelines,” Manning said. “I never pray on the sidelines.”

Brady paid Manning compliments as well, calling him one of his best friends. He also noted how he’d followed Manning’s career as a young quarterback, dating back to high school.

“There’s nobody out there like Peyton Manning right now,” Brady said.

Manning even offered some of his textbook quips, drawing cheers from what was often a hostile New England crowd when he lamented, “They like me here because I always lost here.”

In front of a crowd spilling with his No. 12 jersey, Brady said his family and the Patriots will be forever intertwined.

“I feel like we’re still the family that’s trying to love each other,” Brady said. “We’re adopted New Englanders.”

At one point Brady ran down the list of towns he’d lived in around New England during his time with the Patriots, from Franklin to Quincy to Chestnut Hill to Brookline.

Brady concluded his speech welling with tears.

“I am Tom Brady. And I am a Patriot,” he said.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL



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