June 18, 2024

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Everything you need to know about Tom Brady being inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame

Everything you need to know about Tom Brady being inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame

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

The recognition scheme that began with Brady’s halftime speech 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 about.

What is happening?

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

The Patriots have a four-year waiting period between the time players retire and the time they become eligible for the franchise’s Hall of Fame. This is one year before players are eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, giving the franchise an opportunity to honor players a year before they become eligible for a Gold Jacket. (The Patriots give their Hall of Famer a red jacket.)

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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 visit at halftime of the 2023 opener, Kraft announced that Brady would become the first player to have the waiting period waived for the Patriots’ Hall of Fame.

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

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

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Typically, a team likes to welcome a recruit back for an entire weekend, having a party on Saturday before the home game, and then letting the former player watch Sunday’s game in the Kraft 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 will not be available for a weekend this fall to be honored by the Patriots. So the franchise turned into a summer date.

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The Patriots quickly realized that it would be difficult to hold the event in July since the first part of that month is when most members of the NFL go on vacation. The last part of the month is when training camp begins. Since many of the people the Patriots wanted to participate in the event were tied to the league’s schedule, it would have been difficult to get them before mid-June or give up time in early July.

Weekends were not a realistic option because with over a year’s worth of planning, Saturday dates were blocked by the stadium for potential New England Revolution or American Football matches, as well as potential concerts. The organization also looked at Larry Bird’s 1993 jersey retirement ceremony with the Boston Celtics and realized it was held on a Thursday, which helped fuel the idea of ​​a midweek event.

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

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

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Who will be there?

The response from Brady’s former teammates has been amazing. The team expects more than 200 of its former teammates to return to Foxboro for the event, along with dozens of coaches and some celebrities whom Brady has befriended.

Yes, this includes Bill Belichick. The former coach, who parted ways with the team in January, has not returned to Gillette since parting ways with the Pats. He is expected to be there Wednesday.

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

Naturally, tens of thousands of fans will attend. The team put tickets on sale in batches, with each batch sold out on the same day, and the stadium will likely be full Wednesday night. These ticket sales were intended mostly to cover operating expenses, but the full cost of the show was expected to far exceed the ticket revenue generated.

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What will it look like?

It will be run similarly to previous Patriots Hall of Fame ceremonies, only in a larger venue. The team is expected to have a panel of former teammates telling stories about Brady, his career and the time they spent together. Belichick is also supposed to take the mic and share some anecdotes of his own.

Kraft will then speak and welcome Brady to the podium.

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Can I watch it?

The event will start at 7pm ET and is expected to last for two and a half hours. (That means it must end before halftime of the Celtics’ third NBA Finals matchup with the Dallas Mavericks.)

It will be broadcast on the Patriots’ social media and the team’s website. It will not be broadcast on local television.

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(Illustration: John Bradford/ The athlete; (Photo: Maddy Meyer/Getty Images)