Hours ahead of the NFL schedule release, the New England Patriots announced Thursday morning that they will be honoring quarterback Tom Brady at their home opener at Gillette Stadium this fall.
"12 is coming home," the team said on Twitter. They said more details on the "Thank You Tom Game" will be released at 8 p.m. on NFL Network as part of the league's full schedule reveal.
Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft announced the news in an appearance on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" show on Thursday morning.
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"Since today is schedule day, I'd like to make one little announcementt that I think might have some news for real football fans, and it actually relates to our schedule...," he said. "The NFL is over a centruy old, and 20% of those years of the NFL, the greatest player in the history of the game played right here in Foxboro, and I'm happy to tell you and your audience that I invited him back to come here and be with us at the opening game and let the fans in New England thank him for the great service that he gave us for over 20 years. It'll be the begining of many celebrations to honor Tom Brady and say thank you for what he did for us those 20 years playing for the New England Patriots."
Brady, 45, announced his retirement from the NFL on Feb. 1, exactly one year after first saying his player days were over before then reversing course and coming back for one final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He made sure to stress, however, that this time his decision was final.
“Good morning guys. I’ll get to the point right away,” Brady said in a brief video message posted on social media. “I’m retiring. For good.”
The seven-time Super bowl winner played 23 seasons in the NFL, and owns virtually every meaningful NFL passing record.
He is the NFL’s career leader in yards passing (89,214) and touchdowns (649). He is the only player to win more than five Super Bowls and has been MVP of the game five times. He also holds marks for regular-season wins (251), Super Bowl appearances (10), playoff games and wins (48, 35), as well as playoff yards (13,400) and TDs (88).
Famously underrated coming into the NFL — he was picked 199th in the 2000 draft by the Patriots, behind six other quarterbacks, three kickers and a punter — Brady certainly wasn’t expected to become synonymous with greatness. He played in one game as a rookie, completing one of three passes for six yards.
The next year, it all changed.
Brady took over as the Patriots’ starter, the team beat the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl that capped the 2001 season and he and New England coach Bill Belichick were well on their way to becoming the most successful coach-QB duo in football history.
More Super Bowl wins came after the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The Patriots returned to football’s mountaintop for a fourth time in Brady’s era a decade later to cap the 2014 season, the start of three more titles in a span of five years.
He signed with Tampa Bay in free agency in 2020 and added a seventh Super Bowl ring to his collection in his first season with his new team.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.