Last month, the New England Patriots announced Tom Brady will be honored at the team’s 2023 season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

On Thursday, Brady shared his thoughts on his impending return to Gillette Stadium and explained how the highly anticipated ceremony came to be.

“It was such a kind gesture by RKK (team owner Robert Kraft), who I’ve been in touch with since the season ended,” the retired quarterback said in an interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap. “We’ve always had a great relationship. From the moment that I stepped foot in Foxboro, I’ve cherished that opportunity, and I’ve always felt like I’ve been a member of that organization.

“I know my football journey took me to Tampa for three years, which I absolutely loved, and when that ended, I had a chance to really reconnect with RKK on a personal level, and he thought this was something that the fans would really enjoy.”

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Brady has been back at Gillette once since leaving the Patriots in 2020, but that was as an opponent. His Tampa Bay Buccaneers spoiled an upset bid by the Mac Jones-led Patriots in one of the highest-profile regular-season games in NFL history, winning 19-17 in October 2021.

He’s looking forward to a return with no competitive stakes.

“Obviously, I want to go back there and see the fans,” Brady said. “I want to see my teammates. I went back there one time; it was in an opposing uniform, which was a different type of welcoming, although people were very polite, and I had a great experience. But I’ll be able to go back there in a different frame of mind and a less competitive frame of mind. And I’m always pulling for the Patriots. It’s been a great organization. I’ve got so many friends there still. My kids were born in Boston. I have so many incredible memories of my time there, and it’s a great gesture by the organization.”

Brady is in the process of buying an ownership stake in the Las Vegas Raiders, whom the Patriots will visit in Week 6. Vegas’ current QB situation is murky with Jimmy Garoppolo sidelined with a foot injury, but Brady shot down speculation about a potential comeback.

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Featured image via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images