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I Went To Gillette Stadium Last Night, And Contrary To Steven Cheah’s Baseless Accusations, The Crowd Couldn’t Have Been More Electric. Or Prompt.

A record 27.2 million people tuned in to last night's Buccaneers vs Patriots game.

Deadline - As well as getting more viewers than anything other broadcast this year except for February’s Tampa Bay-winning Super Bowl, last night’s NBC flagship NFL show scored a 34 share among U.S households – the highest ever for SNF since NBC started airing the gridiron show back in 2006.

130 blogs were written here last week leading up to the game, and another 20 last night and today recapping it. 

Every nuance of Mac Jones' performance, the questionable Belichick decision, and Brady's post-game have been dissected like your high school biology frog. Like you I read and thoroughly enjoyed it all.

But one thing that slipped through the cracks was this little shot that Steven Cheah took at the Foxboro faithful.

It was an emotional week for Tom Brady I'm sure. Returning to his place of work of 20 years without his longtime Patriot buddy Rob Gronkowski due to injury. He got a solid reception from the what appeared to be a late arriving crowd

Now I know compared to the ravenous, die-hard, and definitely not fair-weathered fans down in the state of Florida, Patriots fans come across as cute little amateurs. But I was lucky enough to go last night, and I will go on the record, with my hand on a stack of Bibles that the place was fucking packed well before kick-off.

Bob Kraft was asked during the week if and what the team had planned to honor Brady both before the game and when he broke the Brees record and he stated that there would be a pregame video, and they would stop the game when the record was broken and make an announcement. 

Everybody in the state knew this was happening. And everybody busted their ass to get inside not just to witness the video, but to catch Tom fly out onto the field and give his fist pump (possibly for the last time).

(Hit play and turn the volume up)

I was walking in when this happened and can confirm that the roar was as loud as it sounds in Mike Reiss' video. I knew immediately that it was Brady running down the sideline and I missed it. 

When the "Brady, Brady, Brady" chants broke out I knew he gave the crowd his old fist pump and greeted them with some yells.

Damn it.

We were at a big tailgate at Rodman Ford that got started early as fuck. Everyone there knew we'd have to head over early to get in because this wasn't a regular-season game where people would finish their drinks, pack up the grills, and then head in "around kickoff". There would be a crush of people at the gates like for all the 23 playoff games Gillette has hosted.

And we were right. We got to stair by Splittsville around 7 o'clock and it was a mob scene. An hour and a half before kick and gates were slammed. (I’m talking the main gate by the side lot, and the one by the HOF, not the snooty Putnam Club gates).

The ticket takers and security guards actually did a great job getting everybody processed and inside compared to in years past. 

But we still didn't get in in time to see Brady rush the field.

But we got to our seats in section 134 (that's the late Frank Sandler's section) after taking out a second mortgage for some Bud Lights and sausage sandwiches. 

It really sucks to say this, but I have to be honest. I think the Tom Brady "tribute video" was written, directed, and produced by Bill Belichick.

For starters, there was no lead-up to it whatsoever. It caught everybody completely off guard.

They dropped it in after a series of pregame commercials. No PA announcement or anything. 

And it was over just as quick as it started. 

This man, and we the fans, deserved way better than this. 

As everybody knows, when the Tampa offense took the field, the boos came raining down even harder than the actual rain which began a few hours before the game and persisted throughout the entirety of the evening. But that didn't stop anybody from standing the entire game and screaming their lungs out. 

No joke.

It was the loudest and craziest I can ever remember Gillette being. The whole game. 

Sure it helped that the Pats were in the game the entire time. Something I don't think many people saw happening.

But no joke I didn't see anybody, at least in the 130 sections sit down the entire game.

It was amazing. 

I thought with ticket prices being as insane as they were, that the place would be filled with suits and stepford wives looking to brag to all the other parents this week at their kids soccer practices. But it was the opposite. The place was jam packed with all the people that had literally decades worth of incredible, life-lasting memories thanks to the man wearing #12. And we all did whatever it took, be it traveling from out of state, or paying a fortune for a ticket, to be there to honor him. And then boo him.

It started the second the entire Tampa Bay squad stood on the Patriots logo at midfield after the pregame ended. People went ballistic. 

And didn't let them hear the end of it all game.

And sure it was one of the weirdest things ever watching Brady walk out onto the field during the first tv timeout and line up against the Patriots' defense. Something straight out of The Twilight Zone. And constantly flipping back and forth in your head throughout the game whether to clap when Brady converted a tough third-down throw for the first or not. And it sucked getting rained on for 4 straight hours. 

But it was an incredible night, celebrating, and nearly beating, the greatest to ever do it. Ask anybody else that was there and they'll tell you it was worth every penny.

Thanks again Tom

p.s.- it’s really sad Gronk was too banged up to play. To answer Jerry’s question from earlier last week, there were a TON of Gronk jerseys last night (thankfully I didn’t see any of those awful half-and-half ones) and there’s zero doubt he would have got a loud ovation and thank you from that crowd there.

p. p.s. - Urlacher will never live down getting juked out of his cleats by TB12