Tom Brady proved he's still Tom Brady, and even more so after having not only led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a championship in his first year with the team, but in also achieving that goal despite battling a torn MCL. As the future Hall of Famer attempts to repeat his success in 2021, sans the bad knee, there's a checkpoint on his roadmap that everyone has circled -- namely his first-ever return to Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Patriots.
It's an organization that owns six Super Bowl rings in large part due to Brady, and after he celebrated his seventh on the steps of the White House with Bucs teammates, he spoke on the battle to come on Sunday, Oct. 3 at the house he built in Foxborough, MA.
"There's a lot to happen between now and then, and obviously, I know the challenge of beating a great team like that, a great organization, great players, so many friends that are still on the team that still are my brothers," Brady told Jim Gray of SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports radio, via The Boston Herald. "Unfortunately, we're going to be on different sides of the stadium this time around. I've got a lot of familiarity playing in the stadium. You know, we've got to first get to training camp and see where we're going to be and then get through the first three weeks of the year, but I'm sure it'll be a great opportunity for me to go back to a place I know as well as anyone.
"It'll be a great day for football."
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That much is certain, but what's unknown is the level of pomp and circumstance that will or will not await Brady -- as far as a formal ceremony goes (or doesn't). Byron Cowart, a current Patriots defensive tackle that played one year as a rookie with Brady before the five-time Super Bowl MVP took his talents to Central Florida, doesn't expect any fireworks for Brady, though.
At least, not in the sky.
"He's done a lot of things for this organization," said Cowart, before dropping the gauntlet. "He's coming back, but he's coming back as an opponent, so I'm going to treat it like any opponent. We ain't welcoming him, we just got to play him. There ain't going to be no damn ceremony for him or nothing like that.
"They might clap for him, but there's not going to be no -- bro, this is our opponent. Bro, what? We like to win."
This could (and likely will) obviously be viewed as bulletin board material for Brady, but the three-time league MVP also knows there's a football game to be played. Just as he knows this particular matchup isn't one he can or will play coy about.
"I'm not naive to the fact there's some marquee games you always look at over the course of the season, a matchup of places guys have been versus where they're at now," said Brady. "You know, brothers playing one another, or former Super Bowl teams going -- when we played the Giants in the regular season, it always felt like it was a little more when I was with the Patriots. So, naturally, there's just more buildup.
"But at the end of the day, it's going to be a game where we're going to prepare like we've been preparing."
And considering Brady noted it's "probably the last time" he'll suit up in Gillette Stadium -- hinting at his elusive but inevitable retirement -- you can bet every pair of football-loving eyes on the planet will be tuned in.