It’s been a year and a half since Tom Brady announced, on the holiest of all New England drinking holidays, that he would be leaving the Patriots, and on Sunday night, he’ll make his much-anticipated return as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The NBC hype machine has been in full force: The game, naturally, will air as Sunday Night Football, the slot reserved for the week’s marquee NFL matchup. But in advance of that broadcast, the Today show also sent Sheinelle Jones to report from Gillette Stadium this morning, and NBC Nightly News will report from there tonight because it’s a pretty slow news day otherwise. Promotions for the game, editorial and otherwise, have been running across the NBC family of networks all week, including a commercial dramatically soundtracked to Adele’s “Hello.” (Per Adweek, it’s the biggest promotional push NBC has ever given to a regular-season Sunday Night Football game.) It’s a wonder the network didn’t go even further. Just imagine: Live, from Foxborough, it’s Saturday night!
The hype — on NBC and everywhere else that covers the NFL — isn’t without merit: Brady is returning to the region where he won six Super Bowls and three MVPs and where thousands of people literally named their children after him. He’s doing it after adding to his legend by teaming up with fellow former Patriot Rob Gronkowski to win another Super Bowl in his first season with Tampa Bay (while the Pats finished just 7-9 under coach Bill Belichick in that same season). And Brady can make some history during his return: He needs just 68 passing yards to break the all-time regular-season record — a figure he should easily surpass.
All of this comes as details of an upcoming book about the Brady-era Patriots have begun to leak out — ones that show just how much the relationship between the quarterback and his longtime team had deteriorated by the time he departed. One wonderfully petty example: Belichick reportedly wouldn’t let Brady say good-bye to him in person, insisting instead on a phone conversation. (Belichick denies it ever happened.)
If you’re looking to watch Brady’s return and aren’t turned off by the hype for what is ultimately a Week 4 game involving a team with a one percent chance of winning the Super Bowl, you have some options. After the usual Football Night in America pregame show — broadcast live from Foxborough — the game will air on NBC beginning at 8:20 p.m. Eastern and will stream live on Peacock Premium, a new feature for Sunday-night games this season. You’ll also be able to watch on the NBC Sports app and on NBCSports.com, and the game will be broadcast in Spanish on Universo and stream in Spanish on the Telemundo Deportes website and app.
However you decide to tune in — and regardless of what happens — just remember to stick around for Brady and Belichick’s post-game greeting. Or lack thereof?
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