15 memorable moments from Tom Brady’s Hall of Fame ceremony 


“I truly wish I had more time. I wish I had more time to give you all.”

Tom Brady takes in the sights and sounds at Gillette Stadium. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — More than nine months after Robert Kraft announced that the Patriots were waiving the four-year grace period to induct Tom Brady into the team’s Hall of Fame, over 60,000 fans packed into Gillette Stadium for the legendary quarterback’s anticipated return.

Wednesday was a night for the ages in Boston sports, with Brady’s ceremony featuring several memorable speeches, musical performances, and touching tributes over nearly three hours. 

Here are 15 takeaways from Brady’s big night. 

1. A stacked guest list 

Brady might have been the focus on Wednesday, but the festivities celebrated within a rocking Gillette Stadium stood as more of a sweeping tribute for the 20-year Patriots dynasty — with hundreds of Brady’s former teammates making appearances during the red carpet event before the induction. 

Some of the noteworthy names included: Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Randy Moss, Drew Bledsoe, Willie McGinest, Devin McCourty, Vince Wilfork, Ty Law, James White, Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, Kevin Faulk, Matthew Slater, Dan Koppen, Logan Mankins, Matt Cassel, Brian Hoyer, Rob Ninkovich, Malcolm Butler, David Andrews, Patrick Chung, Matt Light, Matthew Slater, Troy Brown, Malcolm Mitchell, and countless others. 

Former staffers Dante Scarnecchia, Josh McDaniels, Ivan Fears, Bill O’Brien, Matt Patricia, and Nick Caserio also took part in the event, while Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo and several current players, like Drake Maye and Jacoby Brissett, were also spotted. 

Brady made his appearance on the red carpet roughly an hour before the start of the event, embracing Robert Kraft and taking a photo with him. 

“He introduced himself to me, and I said ‘I know who you are. A sixth-round draft choice out of Michigan,’” Kraft said on the red carpet, per Emma Healy of The Boston Globe. “I looked straight up at him, and he said ‘And I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.’ And he came in as our fourth quarterback, so he’s prescient and correct.”

2. Dental work for Mayo

Before the ceremony officially commenced, Mayo and Jason McCourty addressed the crowd on stage, with Mayo stressing that Brady’s competitiveness and inner drive are two traits that he hopes carry over to this current 2024 roster. 

Mayo recalled a story where Brady once knocked his tooth out during their playing days together.

“He walks up to me, I don’t have my mouthpiece in, chin strap unbuckled, he headbutts me — split my tooth in half. I was pissed. … He still owes me some veneers, too,” Mayo said.

“We’re going to see some history tonight,” McCourty added as fireworks lit up the sky in Foxborough. 

3. “Allow me to reintroduce myself” 

As the ceremony began and fog covered the stage at Gillette, rapper Jay-Z made a surprise appearance — performing his song “Public Service Announcement” as Brady made his way out on the floor. 

Of course, “Public Service Announcement” was Brady’s go-to song during his playing days in Foxborough, with the legendary quarterback running out on the field at Gillette Stadium and doing his signature pre-game fist bump as that song blared over the speakers. 

Country artist Kenny Chesney also performed “Boys of Fall” later in the ceremony, while U2 frontman Bono also delivered a video shoutout after Brady was officially inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. 

4. A little levity 

Standup comedian and Canton native Bill Burr took part in several sets during the night, performing a monologue after Jay-Z’s performance before introducing host Mike Tirico to the stage. 

“There’s not a lot of certainty in life, but you won’t see another quarterback have a 20-year run – win seven Super Bowls – like Tom Brady,” Burr acknowledged. 

Burr returned later in the show to riff on a few photos of Brady alongside some celebrities and fellow athletes — including Jon Bon Jovi, Steven Tyler, Jimmy Fallon, Peyton Manning, Guy Fieri, Alex Rodriguez, and Snoop Dogg.

One photo featured Brady golfing alongside Bills QB Josh Allen, who had a perplexed look on his face. 

“Look at Tom Brady explaining a Cover-2 defense to him! And he’s like ‘I’ll just run and fumble on the other side of the field,” Burr said of Allen’s reaction. 

5. The Brady family reflects

The ceremony continued with a video featuring Brady’s father, Tom Brady Sr., his mother, Galynn, and two of his sisters. As the family sat around their kitchen table, they reflected on Brady’s upbringing, his drive from a young age, his success in the NFL, and their enduring ties to New England. 

“When I went through my cancer, I went through so many wonderful cards and letters and people made me shawls and blankets — all from the New England area,” Galynn Brady said. “It was a wonderful memory for us — those 20 years.” 

Tom Brady Sr. was emotional while rewatching the video of his son praising him as his hero before Super Bowl LI. 

“It’s beyond touching. I think that’s kind of what every father would aspire to,” Brady Sr. said. “That we do our best and then our kids appreciate us. That’s kind of what that says. That we kind of done a lot of us stuff right. … It’s an honor to be his father.” 

6. Defensive roundtable 

After all six Lombardi Trophies were brought out on stage, Rob Ninkovich and Patrick Chung addressed the crowd. 

“Forget games and playoffs. Let’s talk about practice. As a defense, interceptions off Tom were the best – just to piss him off,” Chung acknowledged. 

The defensive duo then introduced a roundtable featuring Brady, Tirico and some of the greatest defensive players during New England’s dynasty: Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Devin McCourty, and Vince Wilfork.

“You’re not just the greatest quarterback of all-time. You’re the greatest football player of all-time,” Law said of Brady. 

“He’s a better person than he is a football player. That says a lot,” McGinest added of Brady. 

7. Patriots fans don’t like Eli Manning … or Patrick Mahomes

A video featuring some of Brady’s top adversaries during his Patriots career drew plenty of cheers — and jeers — from the Gillette Stadium crowd. 

Former NFL stars like Ray Lewis, Charles Woodson, Jason Taylor, Ed Reed, Richard Sherman, and Michael Strahan all made appearances in the pre-recorded video. As expected, Eli Manning’s appearance drew plenty of boos — but the loudest response was directed toward Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who wished Brady well. 

Even though Brady bested Mahomes in both the 2019 AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LV, Mahomes is viewed as the best quarterback in the game today and one of the few signal-callers who is trying to put himself in the conversation as one of the greatest QBs of all time. 

The best line of the tribute came from Woodson, who is forever linked to Brady thanks to “The Tuck Rule” game. 

“Almost forgot. It was a damn fumble,” Woodson said after toasting Brady. 

There were several other video tributes throughout the night, including one shoutout from actor Matt Damon — along with one featuring former Boston sports stars David Ortiz, Paul Pierce, Patrice Bergeron, and Taylor Twellman. 

8. Peyton Manning surprises Tom Brady 

In a moment reminiscent of Magic Johnson paying tribute to Larry Bird during his retirement ceremony at Boston Garden, Brady’s arch-rival in Peyton Manning made a surprise appearance at Gillette Stadium — drawing cheers from Patriots fans. 

“They like me here because I always lost here,” Manning joked. 

Both Brady and Manning praised one another during their conversation with Tirico, with Manning recalling a story from 2009 where both he and Brady met up in Tennessee during the offseason to workout, golf, and pick each other’s brains. At one point, they even threw passes to a group of high schoolers, who they swore to secrecy about their impromptu workout. 

“If you tell anybody Tom Brady and I are friends, we’ll kill all of you,” Manning joked. 

9. The QB room 

Former Patriots offensive linemen Dan Koppen and Logan Mankins introduced the next roundtable, which included former Patriots QBs Drew Bledsoe, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Cassel — along with longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. 

Bledsoe, who was on a heater during Brady’s Netflix roast last month, offered up a lot more compliments this time around with Brady. But he still managed to land a couple of jokes. 

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

10. The playmakers

After another introduction from Danny Amendola, the next roundtable featured some of the greatest offensive players in NFL history, with Brady joined by Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman.

Each player alongside Brady received an ovation on a night where several Patriots legends beyond Brady all found themselves showered with praise by a grateful fanbase. 

“You’re the only one who can bring so many people here together,” Gronkowski told Brady, who explained the story of how he earned Brady’s trust as a rookie by scoring a touchdown against the Bears off a route they practiced countless times beforehand. 

Edelman expressed gratitude that Brady — an established superstar by the time Edelman entered the league — was gracious with his time toward him as a rookie. 

“The simple fact that I was a seventh-rounder, that I was a nobody, and he knew my name … he did that with everyone around the facility,” Edelman said. “It didn’t matter what was going on in his life. Tom was the same dude every time.”

11. Moss tears up 

In one of the more touching moments of the night, Randy Moss was moved to tears after he received an ovation from the crowd before he finished his first sentence during the roundtable.

The Hall of Fame wideout tried to collect himself, but was clearly caught up in the unexpected ovation he received on stage.

12. Bill Belichick returns to Foxborough 

After parting ways with the Patriots earlier this year, Bill Belichick made his return to Gillette Stadium to honor his longtime quarterback — getting an introduction from Troy Brown and Deion Branch. 

Belichick’s appearance gave way to an extended ovation, with Belichick unable to start his speech for several minutes due to the resounding cheers. 

“This is such a warm welcome. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to come back here,” Belichick acknowledged. 

Belichick, who praised Brady for his ability to avoid “bad plays” on the field, did say that Brady’s “worst decision” was made on the golf course. During a Pebble Beach Pro-Am that Brady and Belichick took part in, Brady was vigilant about playing a ball that was teetering on a cliff — with a 200-foot drop into the Pacific Ocean putting the QB in a precarious spot.

Belichick said the Patriots’ season flashed before his eyes as Brady knocked the ball out of danger. 

After praising several of New England’s coaches and players who also played key roles in New England’s dynasty, Belichick turned to Brady to close out the night. 

“On behalf of myself, on behalf of the fans, thank you,” Belichick said. “Thank you for all you’ve done for us, thank you for all you’ve done for me, and thank you for the example and model you’ve been for all of us on a daily basis for 20 years.”

13. Robert Kraft takes to the stage

Former Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater then introduced Robert Kraft, who stressed that Brady’s return to Gillette Stadium in Week 1 of the 2023 season wasn’t going to be a suitable celebration for a player of Brady’s magnitude. 

“A halftime ceremony just wasn’t enough time to honor the greatest of all time,” Kraft said. “Patriots fans wanted more. Tom Brady deserved more. So I took executive privilege and for the first time, waved the four-year wait for induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame.”

14. No. 12 retired, statue commissioned 

After a video narrated by Neil Degrasse Tyson highlighted the improbability of Brady’s rise as the greatest football player of all time, Kraft announced that Brady’s No. 12 jersey would immediately be retired by the Patriots organization. 

“Tonight, I promise that it will never be worn again as the No. 12 is now officially retired,” Kraft said.

The announcement drew cheers of “BRA-DY! BRA-DY!” from Gillette Stadium, with a clearly emotional Brady taking it all in. 

In addition, Kraft acknowledged that the Patriots would further honor Brady by building a 12-foot bronze statue of the quarterback that will be placed in the plaza in front of the Patriots Hall of Fame. It will be unveiled at some point during the 2024 season. 

“It will stand alone in the plaza outside of the Hall of Fame to symbolize his position, not as the greatest in franchise history, but as the greatest in all of NFL history,” Kraft said.

15. “I am Tom Brady, and I am a Patriot.”

After donning his red jacket and officially earning his spot in the Patriots Hall of Fame, Brady ended the night with a heartfelt 20-minute speech that paid tribute to his family, friends, Patriots teammates and staffers, Belichick, Kraft, the game of football, and fans in New England. 

“I truly wish I had more time. I wish I had more time to give you all,” an emotional Brady said as he fought back tears.

Other highlights included his praise of Belichick and their shared role in the Patriots’ dynasty. 

“It wasn’t me. It wasn’t you. It was us,” Brady said. “Our hard work, our love of the game and the way we worked for one another — that’s what it was all about. Let me make something crystal clear: There is no coach in the world I would rather play for than Bill Belichick.” 

In closing, Brady declared: “I am Tom Brady and I’m a Patriot.” 

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