FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady's long-awaited return to Gillette Stadium is now in the rearview mirror. The Buccaneers quarterback was able to get the better of his former club during their "Sunday Night Football" matchup in what was Brady's first game against the Patriots since leaving the franchise as a free agent during the 2020 offseason. Of course, because Tampa Bay plays in the NFC, there's a chance that this will be the lone matchup that the 44-year-old Brady and the Patriots will share, meaning that Sunday's 19-17 win by the Bucs could very well have been the quarterback's final game in New England. ... Right?
"It's been a great stadium for me for a long time," Brady told reporters postgame when asked about possibly playing his last game in New England. "I don't know what the future holds. Obviously could be an opportunity to come back here. We'll see. I feel like I'll always be a part of this community. I'll be up here quite a bit when it's all said and done. When I retire I'm sure there will be a lot of time for – you know, I have a lot of friends up here and it's a great place. My kids were born on Beacon Street in the city. It's been an amazing place for me, it still is. I obviously see a lot of familiar friendly faces, and great to see you guys, too."
While Brady saying that there "could be an opportunity to come back" to New England may have some thinking he could suit up for the Patriots one more time, the Bucs quarterback was likely referring to a possible one-day contract that officially has him retiring as a member of the organization, which is something Robert Kraft publicly wished for while speaking to the NFL Network on Sunday leading up to this head-to-head.
When directly asked about Kraft's desire to bring Brady back, the quarterback did say that "I still got some time left with the Bucs" and turned his focus back to the season at hand. Given the emotions that were flowing from the quarterback, however, it certainly seems possible.
"Just a lot of emotions," he said of his return. "It was a very emotional week. Again, these guys are like my brothers, you know what I mean? There are two groups of people, all my Bucs teammates that I love and I'm going to battle with every week, and then there is another group of guys that I see, and those are my friends that I been with for a long time. Matt Slater and Kyle Van Noy and Dont'a Hightower and John and Devin [McCourty] and David Andrews and Hoyer. There is a whole crew. Josh [McDaniels]. These are the people that I've shared my life with. Very grateful for everything they've kind of contributed to my life. Very blessed. "
Brady also met with Bill Belichick for a lengthy period of time in the visitor's locker room following their brief on-field embrace immediately after the game. Of course, it's been widely reported that the fractured relationship between the two is what sparked Brady's departure in the first place. That said, the quarterback seemed to try and dismiss that notion.
"Yeah, I mean, all those are personal," Brady said when asked about their interaction. "We got a personal relationship, you know, for 20-plus years. He drafted me here. We've had a lot of personal conversations that should remain that way and are very private. And I would say so much is made of our relationship. You know, as I said earlier this week, from a player's standpoint you just expect the coach to give you everything he's got, and I'm sure as a player that's what he was hoping from me. But nothing is really accurate that I ever see. It's all kind of – definitely doesn't come from my personal feelings or beliefs. I got a lot of respect for him as a coach and obviously a lot of respect for this organization and all the different people here that try to make it successful."
Brady was honored with a one-minute video prior to kickoff that highlighted a number of his biggest moments during his 20 years with the Patriots.
2021 Tom Brady jerseys now available
Can Tom Brady win his eighth Super Bowl at age 44? If you're a Brady fan, it's time to get a new jersey featuring No. 12. Shop red, pewter, and gray jerseys, t-shirts, hoodies, and gear commemorating his record-setting night, here.
We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.