And so it has begun.
Twenty seasons' worth of glory, grandeur and nostalgia, six Super Bowls won and the history of a dynasty crammed into a week of anticipation for Tom Brady's return to Foxborough.
Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have all the world watching when they play the host New England Patriots on Sunday, but on Monday, many were no doubt listening to his podcast, as the reigning Super Bowl Most Valuable Player offered up his comments regarding his return.
For all the aforementioned nostalgia and memories many will relive, Brady isn't shipping up to Boston to reminisce.
"I'm not going to necessarily reminisce," Brady said on the "Let’s Go! with Tom Brady, Larry Fitzgerald and Jim Gray" podcast. "I don't think this is the moment for that. I'll have plenty opportunities to reminisce about my football career -- none of it, none of which I really care to do right now because I'm so much in the moment. I'm not going to be thinking about 20 years of history. I'm going to be thinking about one night of football, a Sunday night game coming off a really tough loss."
One night of football cannot do justice to all that Brady and the Patriots accomplished during his New England tenure, which saw the aforementioned six Super Bowl wins, nine Super Bowl appearances and 17 AFC East titles. But on this night, only this one game will matter for Brady, his Buccaneers (2-1) and his former Patriots squad (1-2) as both will be looking to rebound from losses and emerge from a week of hype and hysteria with a Week 4 win.
Numbers are certainly in favor for Brady's return, as his 115 wins at Gillette Stadium are the most QB wins in a single stadium in league history, per NFL Research.
Nonetheless, the G.O.A.T. isn't going in expecting to be a homecoming king.
"Well, I wouldn't expect a homecoming," Brady said of what his message would be to the fans. "I think they're there to root for their team and their team is the Patriots. And I'll certainly have a lot of people that cheered for me over the years, I know there'll probably be, I'll have a lot of family there and I have a lot of friends that have wanted to go to the game.
"The home crowd at Gillette is a great crowd. And I think they're 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."
Brady's seven Super Bowl wins are far and away the most by any NFL player in history, and he led the way alongside Bill Belichick in bringing a dynasty to New England, perhaps the greatest in league lore. But Brady's days in New England ended ahead of the 2020 campaign when he signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay. Anticipation and intrigue for Brady's eventual return to Foxborough began then.
Belichick's made it known he's not looking to rehash how everything played out when Brady left and TB12 was complimentary of his former coach.
"Well, I have 20 years of being there and, you know, obviously he's a great mentor for me," Brady said. "And, yes, there's definitely great lessons I've learned from him. And, you know, he's a great football coach and he does a great job for his team. Any player I think they would just hope that their coaches give them everything they've got and I'm sure every great coach wants every player to give them everything they've got. And I think that's what makes a great relationship."
It was a relationship that produced unrivaled success, but on Sunday, Brady will face off with his old coach and walk into Gillette Stadium in a Buccaneers uniform looking to defeat the Patriots for the very first time.
On Monday, he spoke of the impending showdown for the first time this week, but it won't be the last. Thus, Brady isn't looking to reminisce on Sunday, but until then he's likely to be quite a bit.