If Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady sets the NFL all-time 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 it but not stop the game for a ceremony, per a team official.
The Patriots are expected to briefly acknowledge Brady’s accomplishment. But what unfolds in Foxborough, Massachusetts on Sunday night if Brady sets the NFL’s all-time passing mark will stand in stark contrast to how the New Orleans Saints treated Drew Brees when he set the record.
The Saints stopped the game, Brees’ family came on to the field, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 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 for the game, 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).
The Patriots also have two dozen former alumni attending the game, including former Brady teammates such as Ty Law, Deion Branch, Joe Andruzzi and Jarvis Green.
But just as there’s 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.