The NFL legend is set to be inducted into the team's Hall of Fame next spring.
Tom Brady shared a major milestone with all three of his children over the weekend. The NFL legend returned to Gillette Stadium for the season game opener of his former NFL team, the New England Patriots.
Clad in his old No. 12 jersey, Brady was honored by team owner Robert Kraft for his two decades of contributions to the team. Brady famously served as the Patriots quarterback for two decades before moving to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the final three seasons of his career. Brady, who is widely considered to be the greatest football player of all time, retired from the sport last season.
"When Tom Brady announced his retirement after 23 NFL seasons, there was only one place I wanted him to be on opening day -- right here at Gillette Stadium with 65,000 fans," Kraft told the audience during a retirement ceremony held during halftime of the team's game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Saturday.
Referencing the numerous championships and accolades the team earned during Brady's tenure -- including six Super bowl wins, although Brady went on to win one more with the Bucs -- Kraft shared his desire to issue a formal sendoff and fitting tribute for the legendary athlete.
"Patriots fans didn't get a proper opportunity to wish him thank you," Kraft said, adding that Brady "deserves more" than the day's halftime ceremony. As such, Kraft said he would waive the standard four-year wait period and induct Brady into the Patriots' Hall of Fame next year, on June 12, 2024.
Brady was joined on stage by all three of his kids, each one matching their dad in his iconic jersey. He shares son Jack, 16, with actress Bridget Moynahan, as well as son Benjamin, 13, and daughter Vivian, 10, with ex-wife Gisele Bündchen. Brady shared a sweet embrace with his youngest during Kraft's remarks, planting a series of kisses on the top of Vivian's head.
Then, Brady took the mic to reminisce about his time as a Patriot and offer thanks to his friends and family.
"What a day," he marveled. "You know, that run out was a little longer today than it used to be. I'm not quite in game shape but it's impossible for me to be in this stadium full of you amazing fans with some of the best teammates, with my family, with all my friends, and not run out like I did for 20 years. This is an incredible celebration for me, for our family, for my teammates, for all of us to come back and thank you guys for what you've done for us."
The 46-year-old player was drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft as the 199th player overall, serving as a backup QB for Drew Bledsoe in his rookie season. He retires from the sport as the winningest and most decorated athlete in the NFL's 103-year history.
"Nobody 23 years ago would have imagined that this journey would bring us here today," he mused. "It's one of my core beliefs, there's nothing significant in life that can be accomplished as an individual. It's always about the team. We built a culture of teammates that cared about two things: They cared about each other and they cared about winning. And if you didn't care about those two things, you did not last here very long. And we were very happy to play against you. So, I think we proved to America what teamwork's all about."
Brady concluded his remarks by declaring himself "a Patriot for life" and thanking the fans for "another day in this stadium that I'll never forget."
Watch his full speech in the video below.
On Monday, Brady also posted pics with his kids from the special Sunday, along with a heartfelt message.
"I’ve talked a lot about how lucky I feel to have spent my life surrounded by such incredible people. Yesterday was just another reminder of that. Coming back to New England to celebrate what WE accomplished was so special, and it’s a day that I’ll never forget," he wrote. "Being able to spend time with teammates, family, friends, coaches, and most importantly all the fans of Patriot nation is something that I’ll never take for granted. We won a whole lot of games up here… and believe it or not we had a whole lot of fun doing it. I’m so lucky to have been a New England Patriot. Foxboro Forever."
Last week, Brady spoke about returning to Gillette Stadium on his SiriusXM show, Let's Go! With Tom Brady, Larry Fitzgerald and Jim Gray.
"I was very blessed to play for as long as I did, and I loved it. And now I get to see other guys do it, and I also get to see football from a different perspective," Brady said, noting that he's set to join Fox Sports as an NFL analyst for the 2024 season next year.
"I'll be on Fox next year, so I have a chance to really sit back and watch and learn a different career," he explained. "I'll be able to really watch this year with kind of a different eye. You know, I used to watch it from the lens of a quarterback. Now I see it more from maybe broadcasting, but also as a fan, and then also still from a quarterback. So maybe a few different perspectives to learn, which will be a really fun thing."
He also opened up about his new role as a football dad, as son Benjamin is trying his own hand at the sport this year.
"I'm always gonna love throwing that ball," he said. "My son is gonna play football this year, Benny, so I've been throwing the ball to him in the backyard."
Brady may be the G.O.A.T. when it comes to quarterbacks, but he says the teen actually wants to emulate one of his famous teammates: Rob Gronkowski.
"He wants to be a tight end like Gronk, and he's gonna be a little beast," Brady said of his kiddo. "He's an amazing kid and he's got a lot of talents. He's a really talented musician and artist. And then he told me this year, 'Dad, I'm playing football.' And I was like, 'What do you wanna play?' And he was like, 'Tight end. I wanna be like Gronk!' So I actually texted Gronk and I'm like, 'Yo, my boy wants to be like you!' And he loved it."
Benjamin isn't the only one of Brady's children to show athletic prowess. Brady also said that he's been "kicking the soccer ball" around with Vivian, while Jack's mother, Moynahan, recently revealed that their son is an avid basketball and lacrosse player.
Brady said he's "really enjoying this new experience. And there's so much to life that is here to live."
In a recent interview with ET, Brady opened up about putting his family first.
"I always love my time with my kids, and my family is my number one priority," he said in June. "So, I think, for all of us, showing them different experiences and going on trips and vacations and family stuff is great, and then seeing them in school and achieve and overcome obstacles is really fun too. We've all got these amazing journeys and we're going to make the best of them."