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Patriots will push for Tom Brady to sign one-day deal, Robert Kraft says

Tom Brady and Robert Kraft shared a moment before a game in 2015. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)
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New England fans are “clamoring” for Tom Brady to retire as a member of the Patriots, according to team owner Robert Kraft, who said he would like nothing more than to grant their wish.

Kraft affirmed Thursday that the Patriots are keenly interested in bringing Brady back to New England on a one-day contract, after the 45-year-old quarterback said Wednesday he was ending his unprecedented NFL career following three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That would enable Brady to formally exit the league as a member of the franchise with which he spent 20 extremely successful years.

“I’d do it tomorrow,” Kraft said when asked about it during an appearance on “CNN This Morning.”

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One-day contracts, in this context, are ceremonial documents that have been signed through the years by athletes who enjoyed standout careers for a particular franchise before finishing their playing days elsewhere. Jerry Rice, to name a comparable superstar, put his name to one in 2006 with the San Francisco 49ers, for whom he set NFL receiving records over 16 years before moving on to brief stints with the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks. Running back Emmitt Smith returned to the Dallas Cowboys to bid farewell in 2005 after playing his final two seasons for the Arizona Cardinals. On a more recent and less historically elite note, defensive end Ryan Kerrigan signed a one-day contract with Washington last year following an 11-year career that ended with one season in Philadelphia.

Saying Thursday that Brady “is, always has been and always will be a Patriot,” Kraft told CNN, “We will do everything in our power to bring him back, have him sign off as a Patriot, and find ways to honor him for many years to come.”

“He did so much to bring life and good cheer to our community, and he’s a beloved figure,” added the 81-year-old owner.

Famously passed over in the 2000 draft for almost six full rounds before the Patriots plucked him with the 199th pick, Brady rewarded the team and its fans with two decades of stellar play that have brought him acclaim as the greatest quarterback of all time. He helped the franchise win its first Super Bowl title and went on to win six altogether with New England in nine appearances on the NFL’s biggest stage. Brady also won three NFL MVP awards over that span, but following reports over his final few seasons in New England of growing tensions with Coach Bill Belichick, the quarterback left the Patriots in March 2020 and latched on with the Buccaneers.

Brady promptly won a Super Bowl with his new squad, further cementing his unparalleled NFL status. The past two seasons in Tampa Bay didn’t bring as much success — and included Brady walking away last year before quickly changing his mind — but he showed he could still play at an astonishingly high level for his age.

Nevertheless, Brady decided he was “retiring, for good,” as he revealed in a short video he shared Wednesday on social media.

Among those heaping praise on Brady in the wake of his announcement was Kraft, who told ESPN, “I don’t believe in the 100-year-old history of the NFL, there’s been a quarterback of Tom’s ilk. I would have trouble ever believing there would be another one.”

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Noting on CNN that “there’s over 25,000 or 30,000 players who played football,” Kraft said: “How lucky are we up here in New England to have the greatest that’s ever played?”

The Patriots owner also mentioned his close relationship with Brady, who in October took a midseason excursion to New York, ahead of a Bucs game in Pittsburgh, to attend Kraft’s wedding.

“We’ve talked a lot,” Kraft said Thursday. “He FaceTimed me yesterday — nothing about this [one-day contract idea], just, you know, it was the first day [in retirement] and he had his two younger children with him. He really seemed happy, and they were happy. I loved it because his little daughter said — well, both of his kids, they call me RKK — and they said, ‘We miss you. We haven’t seen you.’ You know, it’s just Tommy. He’s a fierce competitor, but he brings love and a great warm feeling to everything he does.”

Asked toward the end of the interview of he had any “parting words” for Brady, Kraft said, “Tommy, I’m always here for you. You are a part of our family. … Thank you for the time you gave us.

“Everyone here in the New England region loves you and respects you and wants happiness for you in your life.”