Every NFL regular season has that one game fans are most excited about, and that you already know will be hyped up all year long. The Tom Brady-Peyton Manning matchups of years past fall into this category, as do other marquee quarterback battles: Mahomes vs. Jackson, Brady vs. Mahomes, Rodgers vs. Brees, Brady vs. Rodgers, you name it.
The most anticipated game of the 2021 regular season will not feature two of the best quarterbacks in the game, but still be as intriguing a matchup as any in recent history: Tom Brady versus Bill Belichick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visiting the New England Patriots.
Unsurprisingly, the league’s schedule makers decided to put that game in a primetime slot: Brady’s return to New England will take place in Week 4, on October 3rd at 8:20 pm. And even though there are still almost five months to go before the game, it is already obvious that the hype train has left the station and is plowing ahead at full steam.
“This is the number one regular season game, maybe ever,” said NFL Network’s Peter Schrager about the contest.
“I do think that is the most anticipated game of the season,” noted Steve Levy of ESPN.
Despite another legendary ex-Patriot, Rob Gronkowski, also making his return to Gillette Stadium that day, all eyes will be on Brady and Belichick. They very well should be, given that the two men established themselves as first-ballot Hall of Famers while working alongside each other: led by Brady and Belichick, New England won six Super Bowls between 2001 and 2018 and solidified its status as the lone dynasty of the 21st century.
What happened next is well known. Brady was allowed to enter free agency after the 2019 season and subsequently decided to leave the Patriots. He went on to join the Buccaneers, and led them to a championship in his first season all while New England stumbled to a 7-9 record.
Now, Brady will return to his old stomping grounds in what Ace Ticket CEO Jim Holzman recently called the “biggest regular-season ticket in history for any sporting event.”
Appearing on WEEI, Holzman said that the demand for tickets will be through the roof.
“This is going to be what every single person wants for their birthday. Who wouldn’t want to go to this game?” he asked. “We never got to say goodbye to Tom Brady. It’s your last chance to see him at home. He never got a sendoff, and who is going to give up their seat? I think when you put those together, like who wants to give up their seat?
“My industry is coming out of a major pandemic, which completely crashed our industry. It’s crazy to think anything is going to sell for crazy money, but it is going to happen. Tickets are going to be really hard to get. Everyone is going to want to go. We don’t really know where it’s going to go, or what the market is going to be. Everyone wants to go and when everyone wants to go, it usually results in high ticket prices.”
Some have apparently already started to take advantage of the hype surrounding the early-October game.
One listener calling into 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday morning claimed that he sold six tickets for the highly anticipated game for a combined $15,000 or $2,500 a piece. Ticket re-selling site Stubhub has prices listed from anywhere between $1,100 per ticket to almost $10,000.
Whether or not the game will live up to the hype remains to be seen, but even in mid-May it is obvious that Tom Brady’s return to Gillette Stadium will be the game to watch during the 2021 regular season.