Connect with us

Sports

Tom Brady to be inducted into Patriots Hall of Fame: What to know about Wednesday’s event

Published

on

The New England Patriots began planning for Wednesday’s induction of Tom Brady into their Hall of Fame more than a year ago. Shortly after the star quarterback retired (for real this time), Patriots executives got together to map out how to celebrate arguably the game’s greatest player.

A recognition plan that started with a halftime speech from Brady at the Patriots’ home opener last season (in which he declared himself a “Patriot for life”) will culminate Wednesday night in front of a sold-out crowd in Foxboro. Here’s how the event came to be.

What’s happening?

The Patriots take their franchise Hall of Fame more seriously than most teams, perhaps a fitting tradition for the most dominant team of the 21st century. They began their Hall of Fame in 1991, but it gained notoriety in 2008 when the team opened a brick-and-mortar location adjacent to Gillette Stadium, drawing inspiration from the Green Bay Packers.

The Patriots have a four-year waiting period between when players retire and when they’re eligible for the franchise’s Hall of Fame. That’s one year earlier than players are eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which gives the franchise a chance to honor players a year before they’re eligible for a gold jacket. (The Patriots give their franchise Hall of Famers a red jacket.)

GO DEEPER

NFL 100: At No. 1, Tom Brady — ‘He’s the winner of all winners’

But given Brady’s stature and all he meant to the Patriots, owner Robert Kraft and the organization wanted to find more meaningful ways to honor him. So during his halftime visit for the 2023 opener, Kraft announced that Brady will become the first player to have the waiting period waived for the Patriots Hall of Fame.

Wait, why is the ceremony in the middle of June?

The Patriots began planning this more than a year ago. But Brady’s new job created a wrinkle.

Typically, the team likes to welcome back its inductee for a full weekend of affairs, with a ceremony taking place the Saturday before a home game, then allowing the former player to watch Sunday’s game in Kraft’s suite. (Last year’s inductee, Mike Vrabel, ruffled the feathers of Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk when the then-Titans coach sat next to Kraft during the Titans’ bye week. Strunk fired Vrabel shortly after the season.)

With Brady set to call games for Fox this season, he wouldn’t be available for a weekend this fall to be honored by the Patriots. So the franchise pivoted to a summer date.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Tom Brady by the numbers: Which records does he hold?

The Patriots quickly realized it would be difficult to pull off the event in July considering the early part of that month is when most around the NFL go on vacation. The later part of the month is when training camp begins. Given that many of the people the Patriots wanted to take part in this event are tied to the league’s schedule, it would’ve been tough to get them before mid-June or to give up time in early July.

Weekends weren’t a realistic option because with planning taking place more than a year out, Saturday dates were blocked by the stadium for potential New England Revolution or U.S. Soccer matches, as well as possible concerts. The organization also looked into Larry Bird’s 1993 jersey retirement ceremony with the Boston Celtics and realized it took place on a Thursday, which helped fuel the idea of a midweek event.

The Pats next looked at the week of their minicamp in mid-June. It would be easier, they figured, to bring back Brady’s former teammates (two prominent ones — Vrabel and Wes Welker — are now coaches) then as teams around the league wrap up minicamp.

Plus, the Patriots found meaning in the date of their final minicamp session: June 12. They marketed it as an easy one to remember: the sixth month of the year for Brady’s six Super Bowls with the Patriots, and the 12th day of the month for his soon-to-be-retired number.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Tom Brady retires with only legacy he’s ever cared about: ‘He’s the winner of all winners’

Who will be there?

The response from Brady’s former teammates has been astounding. The team is expecting more than 200 of his former teammates to return to Foxboro for the event along with dozens of coaches and some A-list celebrities Brady has befriended.

Yes, that includes Bill Belichick. The former coach who split with the team in January hasn’t been back to Gillette since parting with the Pats. He is expected to be there Wednesday.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Why ‘Belichick is nothing without Brady’ is the dumbest sports argument ever

The team hasn’t divulged the exact guest list, but all of the major figures are expected to be there, including Gronkowski, Vrabel, Welker, Julian Edelman and Randy Moss.

And, of course, tens of thousands of fans will be in attendance. The team put tickets for sale in waves, and each batch sold out the same day, likely making for a packed stadium Wednesday night. Those ticket sales were mostly meant to cover operational expenses, but the full cost of the show is expected to far exceed the ticket revenue generated.

What will it look like?

It’s going to run similarly to previous Patriots Hall of Fame ceremonies, just in a bigger venue. The team is expected to have a panel of former teammates telling stories about Brady, his career and their time together. Belichick, too, will presumably take the mic and share some tales of his own.

Then Kraft will speak and welcome Brady to the podium.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Tom Brady ripped by Belichick, Kevin Hart, former teammates during roast

Can I watch it?

The event will start at 7 p.m. ET and is expected to last 2 1/2 hours. (That means it should wrap up before halftime of the Celtics’ Game 3 NBA Finals matchup with the Dallas Mavericks.)

It will be streamed on Patriots social media and the team’s website. It won’t be aired on local TV.

Scoop City Newsletter

Scoop City Newsletter

Free, daily NFL updates direct to your inbox. Sign up

Free, daily NFL updates direct to your inbox. Sign up

BuyBuy Scoop City Newsletter

(Illustration: John Bradford / The Athletic; Photo: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

Continue Reading