Tom Brady expects to be treated like a visitor in his long-awaited return to Gillette Stadium.
On his “Let’s Go!” podcast with co-host Jim Gray, the former New England Patriots quarterback said he isn’t anticipating a hero’s welcome when he leads the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into Foxboro, Mass., this Sunday night.
“I wouldn’t expect a homecoming,” Brady said. “I think they’re there to root for their team, and their team is the Patriots. I certainly have a lot of people that have cheered for me over the years. I have a lot of family there, and I have a lot of friends that have wanted to go to the game. They’ve been asking about tickets for six months. So there will be a lot of excitement from them in the stands.
“But I think the home crowd at Gillette is a great crowd, and I think they are going to cheer for their team, as I would expect them to. And I think if they know anything about me, they’re going to know that I’m going out there to try to win the football game. So I think they’ll respect that about me. I certainly respect that they’re there to pull for their team, and that’s the way sports goes. After the game comes and goes, things will happen as they will. I’m not sure how things unfold — other than how I want them to unfold, which is us to go play a great game of football and try to get a really tough win in a really great football environment.”
Brady established himself as the greatest quarterback in NFL history during his 20 seasons with the Patriots, winning six Super Bowls and reaching three others. He added a seventh title last season in his first year as a Buccaneer.
The 44-year-old said he’ll approach this week’s blockbuster matchup like he would any other game — though he acknowledged it’s been on his mind since last March.
“That’s the reality of pro sports,” Brady said on the podcast. “I think having the opportunity as a free agent 18 months ago and choosing Tampa and then seeing that we were going to play the AFC East (in 2021), I know it would be inevitable. And here we are as we approach this week. It’ll be obviously a fun week. There’s a lot of build-up, a lot of hype, and I know it’s been kind of been going on for quite a while. I’m excited to go play a football game — a regular-season football game — and try to get back on a winning track. I know it’s against a team that I played 20 years for, and I know it’s against a very quality team and a great organization and a great franchise.
“But I’m going to do everything I can to keep it like I normally do. I feel like I put 100 percent into every week, so it’s not like I can say, ‘Well, this week, I’m going to put 110 percent in,’ because I try to put 100 percent in every week to the opponent. I have a lot of obviously tremendous memories. Some of the greatest experiences of my life took place in the last 20 years, personally and professionally, and going back to a place I know so well with so many friends will be a really exciting thing for everybody. And I think as the ball gets kicked off, I know it’s going to be kind of a normal football game, and I’m going to have to go do what I’ve always tried to do, (which) is be a great quarterback for the team that I’m playing on. I’d love to go up there and get a win against a really great football team.”
The Bucs sit at 2-1 after a 34-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The Patriots badly need a victory after starting 1-2 with two home defeats.