5:05 AM ET
Adam SchefterESPN Senior Writer
- ESPN NFL Insider
- Joined ESPN in 2009
- Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books
If Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady sets the NFL career passing record Sunday night against his former team, and he needs only 68 yards to do it, the New England Patriots will pause to acknowledge the achievement but will not stop the game for a ceremony, according to a team official.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft also confirmed on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown that Brady would be honored when he breaks the record and that there would be a pregame tribute video for the quarterback.
“I want everyone in this building to know, right before the Buccaneers come out, you look at the big board and for one minute we’re going to run something that I think is very respectful and worthy,” Kraft said. “And if he winds up breaking the record — although I guess in some ways I hope he doesn’t, but realistically he will — the game will stop and we will honor that moment out of respect to him as a great athlete and what he’s given to us.”
While the Patriots will briefly acknowledge Brady’s accomplishment, what unfolds in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Sunday night if Brady sets the NFL mark will stand in stark contrast to how the New Orleans Saints treated Drew Brees when he set the record in 2018.
The Saints stopped the game, Brees’ family came on to the field, Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker was there to get the football, and the entire home stadium celebrated.
Gillette Stadium might celebrate Sunday night as well, but the recognition will be brief, as the game will go on without interruption after acknowledging Brady’s feat.
Brady currently is at 80,291 passing yards, chasing the record that Brees holds with 80,358.
But Brady’s passing record will not be the only unique element of what might be the most hyped and anticipated regular-season game in NFL history.
The Patriots have issued 506 media credentials, including 262 for NBC, which is broadcasting the game. For perspective, the Patriots issued 206 total media credentials for the team’s season opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 12, with 70 going to broadcaster CBS. Last week against the Saints, the Patriots issued 215 credentials, including 60 for broadcaster Fox.
New England also has two dozen alumni attending the game, including former Brady teammates such as Ty Law, Deion Branch, Joe Andruzzi and Jarvis Green.
But just as there is all sorts of anticipation in New England, the same is true in Tampa around the Buccaneers.
“Everyone’s playing it off as another game, but it’s not just another game,” one Buccaneers official said this weekend.