Patriots use Tom Brady to break in bizarre new tradition

The New England Patriots brought in franchise legend Tom Brady to kick off a... unique new tradition.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Tom Brady, New England Patriots / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages

The New England Patriots welcomed Tom Brady home on Sunday.

Brady returned to his old stomping grounds in Foxborough to help ring in a new season — literally.

It was an eventful pregame for Brady, who received special recognition at midfield. Before that, he ran up the sideline in his old Pats jersey, hitting every New England fan — and even the non-New Englanders who harbor a begrudging respect for the all-time great — with a powerful burst of nostalgia.

That's all good and well, but what truly stuck with fans was the strange new tradition Brady helped start in the tower above Gilette Stadium.

Apparently — and this is 100 percent real, a totally very real thing — Brady is the first ever 'Keeper of the Light' in Patriots history.

Here's how it went down.

Tom Brady becomes New England Patriots' first ever 'Keeper of the Light'

This is... interesting?

The Patriots are not inventing 'Famous Person Rings Bell Before The Game,' nor is New England the first NFL team to participate in one of the myriad spin-offs of this particular brand of pregame celebration. Still, not many bellringers or crowd-players have a nickname as wonderfully strange as 'Keeper of the Light.'

Foxborough is within driving distance of the Massachusetts shoreline, but it's completely landlocked. Why are we doing a lighthouse celebration? Oh, sure, it's an air tower — for the planes!

Either way, it doesn't feel particularly relevant to the Patriots, whose mascot is modeled after soldiers from a time before air travel. If not much else, this is a grand opportunity for enemies to pile on one of football's most hated franchise — a franchise so many NFL fans hate precisely because of Brady.

On the other hand, it's great to see the Patriots and Brady officially extend the olive branch in person after years of strife leading up to and following his move to Tampa Bay. It got a little ugly for a while there, but Brady will forever be synonymous with the Patriots. That organization will forever stand in Brady's shadow. There was no way they couldn't make up.

Brady's presence hasn't extended to the field yet — the Eagles lead 25-20 as of this writing — but his presence as a franchise cornerstone and talking head could have profound implications in the long run.

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