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Patriots, Fans Fete Brady on QB’s 41st Birthday

August 4, 2018

Stacey Lavigne, left, and her son Will came Friday's New England Patriots practice in Foxboro prepared to celebrate quarterback Tom Brady's 41st birthday. CHRIS CHRISTO / BOSTON HERALD Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

By Stephen Hewitt

Boston Herald

FOXBORO -- At 8:47 a.m. Friday morning at the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium, before the birthday boy arrived, the stands were full in anticipation of his entrance.

“This is basically Tom Brady’s birthday we’re celebrating today,” a voice over a microphone announced to the crowd.

Just outside the stadium, there was a giant birthday cake in the shape of Brady’s No. 12 -- which was served to the first 5,000 fans who wanted a piece. There was a huge birthday card in the shape of a 12 and a goat that fans could sign. There was even a larger-than-life balloon of Brady.

This was no ordinary 41st birthday.

Finally, at 9:15 a.m., after most of his teammates had made their way on to the field for practice, Brady, in his red No. 12 jersey, trotted out. There was a roar from the crowd, which sang him “Happy Birthday” in unison as he waved back.

“When you’re singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Brady, you know it’s football season,” Julian Edelman said.

The crowd serenaded Brady a few more times with “Happy Birthday,” and as he and his teammates lined up for stretches, “Public Service Announcement” by Jay-Z, the song that introduces Brady at every Patriots home game, blared over the speakers.

Aug. 3 has become something of an annual ritual over the years at Gillette Stadium, where training camp practices often intersect with Brady’s birthday, allowing Patriots fans and the team’s marketing department to get creative with ways to celebrate the quarterback’s big day. Last year, for his 40th birthday, the Patriots brought five baby goats to Foxboro -- one for each of his Super Bowl victories -- to celebrate his fan-annointed status as the “greatest of all time” (GOAT).

With a cake, cards and a big balloon Friday, they showed their appreciation yet again.

“It’s a flashback,” said quarterback Brian Hoyer, who backed Brady up for the first three years of his career before returning to the Patriots midway through last season. “It’s awesome. I mean, obviously he means a lot to this entire area and the fans, and I think that’s a great way that they show their appreciation.”

On the field, the Patriots seemed to treat it as Brady’s birthday. The 41-year-old participated in warmups and stretches, but was otherwise given what was seemingly a veteran’s day off. Most of his morning was spent on one knee and his helmet off as he watched Hoyer and rookie Danny Etling take all the snaps, or spending time chopping it up with owner Robert Kraft on the sideline.

That’s not uncommon, as Brady also basically had a day off on his birthday last year. But when practice concluded, it didn’t seem as if he thought he deserved any special treatment, as he joined his teammates to run hills at the far end of the practice field.

“It’s inspiring for me to be around because you see a guy who has accomplished so much but still has the drive and passion to come out here,” Hoyer said. “I joked to him today, I said, ‘How many 41-year-olds are running up a hill in full pads right now in the entire world?’ So for me, to see someone that I look up to as a mentor and a role model, to see him still doing it, I feel old sometimes and I’m only 32, so it’s fun. For me, I like to be competitive with him and we have a lot of fun with that.”

After practice ended, Brady was joined on the field by his wife Gisele, their son Ben and daughter Vivian. The quarterback took a tour around the field to sign autographs and take pictures with fans before running off the field to celebrate the rest of his birthday.

It didn’t seem like he’d be getting any more gifts.

“It’s hard to shop for a guy who has everything,” Edelman said.

Added Hoyer: “No, he’s got enough stuff.”

Until next year.

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