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    Tom Brady Hall of Fame Ceremony: Top Takeaways, Random Thoughts From Patriots Event

    Here are our top takeaways after attending Tom Brady's nostalgia-fueled induction into the New England Patriots' Hall of Fame on Wednesday.

    FOXBORO, Mass. — On Wednesday night, New England Patriots fans finally got the closure, and the reunion, that they were looking for.

    Legendary quarterback Tom Brady was celebrated during a nearly five-hour event culminating with his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame and number retirement. Hundreds of former teammates and coaches attended the event, including Bill Belichick, and fans were treated to surprise performances by rapper Jay-Z, country singer Kenny Chesney, and comedian Bill Burr.

    Pro Football Network was at Gillette Stadium for the entire Brady ceremony. Let’s get into everything that stood out.

    Takeaways, Random Thoughts From Tom Brady Hall of Fame Ceremony

    • The juxtaposition between this sanitized, justifiably positive event and the raunchy, delirious Netflix roast was jarring. Ultimately, it’s a good thing that we got both. The Patriots’ dynasty deserves to be celebrated, but it also provides plenty of low-hanging fruit for jokes. It’s all part of the fun.
    • The two-hour red carpet event that preceded the actual ceremony was pure nostalgia fuel.

    • Rumors of a Jay-Z appearance began swirling early in the week. And, I gotta say, it was pretty cool. And I’m not even a Jay-Z fan. It was a fun, exciting way to start the event, which dragged on at times.
    • Burr did his thing across multiple sets, including telling fat jokes about Andy Reid and Buffalo Bills fans. He also said, “In honor of Gay Pride Month,” when riffing on a photo of Brady and MLB legend Alex Rodriguez.
    • Chesney’s performance was fine. Not my thing, but Brady loved it and was singing along, which is all that matters.
    • A slew of Patriots rookies, including Drake Maye, sat near the stage with their own jerseys on. Jacoby Brissett, wearing a Brady jersey, sat a bit closer to the stage.
    • Patriots owner Robert Kraft had Jon Bon Jovi and head coach Jerod Mayo seated at his table, among others. Brady sat with his family at a table nearby.
    • Brady was visibly emotional throughout the night. The first time came during a sit-down with Mike Tirico, as Brady teared up while addressing fans and telling a story about Kraft’s late wife, Myra.
    • Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy received some of the loudest cheers among non-Patriots. Portnoy, wearing the same clothes from his infamous NFL headquarters sit-in, even got a shoutout from Brady.

    • Of all the former Patriots in attendance, no one was more unrecognizable than former offensive lineman Dan Connolly.

    • The Patriots played a video of longtime Brady rivals congratulating him. Ray Lewis, Michael Strahan, and especially Eli Manning, drew very loud boos, but the loudest jeers were saved for Patrick Mahomes. The fans apparently love Ed Reed, though.
    • Peyton Manning was the only real surprise guest, and fans greeted him with a huge ovation. “They like me here because I always lost here,” Manning said.

    • I also loved this Manning story about a 2009 throwing session where he and Brady threw passes to high school kids: “We said, ‘If you tell anybody that Tom Brady and I are working out together and that we’re friends, then we’re going to kill all of you.'”

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    • At one point, the Patriots played a video of Boston sports greats congratulating Brady. David Ortiz, Patrice Bergeron, and Paul Pierce all received massive ovations. Not much of an ovation for former New England Revolution star Taylor Twellman, though.
    • Drew Bledsoe killed it again.

    • Helicopters took off from the practice fields on multiple occasions. I’d love to know who was in them.
    • I find Josh McDaniels’ continued presence around the team interesting. He was around a lot late last season, attended Belichick’s farewell news conference, and spoke at the Brady ceremony. He also recently led this excellent video about Brady’s greatest comebacks:
    • The coolest moment of the night came when Randy Moss, Julian Edelman, Wes Welker, and Rob Gronkowski joined Brady on stage. Moss began to speak, and the fans cut him off with a deafening, standing ovation. Moss became emotional.

    • Edelman received a similar ovation. Gronkowski cracked a few jokes and acted like Gronk.
    • Neil deGrasse Tyson narrated a very science-y video about the improbability of Brady’s success. It was pretty random.

    • Belichick delivered the goods with his speech. He was greeted by a lengthy, incredibly loud ovation that came in multiple waves. “This is such a warm welcome,” Belichick said, “I can’t tell you how much it means to come back here.”
    • Belichick is a hard guy to figure out, but you could tell he meant that. This felt like the sendoff he deserved in January.

    • At the same time, it was hard to listen to Belichick and not think about all of the contexts, from the Kraft drama to the presence of Mayo to speaking in front of current Patriots who played for him. It was just all very surreal.
    • He also slipped up at one point, saying, “We have a saying here …”
    • One underrated thing about Belichick’s speeches: He never looks at notes, if he even has any. But you always can tell he’s prepared and has rehearsed his presentation. For someone so notoriously grumpy in public settings, he’s a sneaky-good public speaker.
    • Belichick’s speech was a bit long, and he might’ve gone too inside-football, but it was well done and a welcome reprieve from some of the Brady praise that even Belichick called “redundant.”

    • Shoutout to Matthew Slater for never, ever calling Brady anything other than “Thomas.”
    • Fans were given light-up wristbands that seemingly were synced to the program. For example, when Belichick took the stage, all the bands lit up — some white, some red, some blue. Other times, during extended applause, they flashed red. I don’t know much other than that, but they looked cool.

    KEEP READING: Revisiting Each of Tom Brady’s Super Bowl Appearances

    • Brady’s number retirement — the first Patriots number retirement in 24 years — was predictable but still a fun reveal. So, too, was the announcement of a 12-foot statue that will be unveiled outside the franchise Hall of Fame sometime next season.

    • Brady’s speech was emotional and intense. He cried when talking about the Kraft family, Patriots fans, and even offensive linemen. It was good stuff. He also teared up when delivering this line about Belichick: “It wasn’t me, it wasn’t you, it was us.”

    • Again, this event was for Patriots fans — and diehard fans at that. They love the team and wanted that kind of closure — and they got it.
    • Final thoughts: Kudos to the Patriots’ operations and media-relations teams. Some members were at the stadium as early as 3 a.m. — minicamp practice was at 10:30 a.m. — and stayed until late in the night. It was a long day that required a lot of work, and it went off without a hitch.

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