With the September sun shining overhead and hundreds of fans filling the plaza outside of the Hall at Patriot Place, receiver/special teamer/cornerback Troy Brown was inducted into the franchise's Hall of Fame Saturday evening.
Brown is the 18th player and 19th individual to be enshrined in the Patriots' Hall, and the first to have been with the team for all three of its Super Bowl wins in 2001, '03 and '04.
"Troy Brown didn't adhere to the Patriot Way -- he defined it," owner Robert Kraft said before presenting Brown with the red jacket inductees receive.
An eighth-round pick out of Marshall in 1993, Brown was released for the first seven weeks of the 1994 regular season and working at a Boys & Girls Club before then-general manager Bobby Grier called him with an opportunity to return.
From that point through his final season in 2007, Brown would become the franchise leader in receptions, punt returns and punt return yardage, and in 2004, at 33, was pressed into service as a cornerback and pulled in three interceptions.
Earlier this year, in his first year of eligibility, Brown was overwhelmingly selected as this year's inductee through an online fan vote.
In a wide-ranging acceptance speech, Brown thanked his mother, who he said is incredibly giving and sacrificed quite a bit, not only for Brown and his two siblings, but also for her own siblings, whom she helped raise.
He also pointed out his two sons, Sir'mon and SaanJay, who he said continue to be his inspiration. The boys were upset when Brown retired, but their father assured them that they weren't going anywhere.
Indeed, as Brown noted, Patriots fans have always treated him as though he were a New England native, not born in South Carolina.
After his comments, Brown was joined on stage by former teammates Drew Bledsoe, Ty Law, Kevin Faulk and Tedy Bruschi and the five reminisced about their playing days, recalling the practice fields the Patriots used to use at nearby Wrentham State School and the tiny indoor practice facility they used to have.
Each also shared a favorite Troy Brown moment, though Bruschi noted that if there were just one great moment, they wouldn't all be gathered for Brown's induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame.
Here are some of Brown's comments from a chat with reporters after the ceremony:
On the ceremony overall:
We had a wonderful time. I looked up and I saw so many people lining the steps and just people cheering. It makes you feel about everything you were able to do and everything you were able to accomplish on the football field, out in the community, because to me as well, it's been more about the stuff I did off the football field. The memories that you helped create off the football field. And I think people really appreciate that a whole lot more than a lot of the things you do on the football field, but when it comes to that stuff too on the football field, it solidifies my thoughts that people realize that I did things the right way.
On the number of people who showed up and continue to embrace him:
I never really had a scope on just how big my popularity was with people around the league, because I was so focused here on New England and being a small-time guy, I guess you think small-time things sometimes, but I guess my popularity was pretty big. With the help of so many great players, like Tedy [Bruschi], Drew, Tom [Brady], and Kevin and Deion and all those guys, I guess it helped to get all of us noticed, with all the success that came with us.
On the changes around the Patriots since Robert Kraft bought the team the year after he was drafted:
"It's unbelievable. I meant every word I said up there about Robert [Kraft] building this franchise to where it is and Parcells getting everybody excited about being a New England Patriot fan again and Bledsoe coming in and getting everybody excited about it, building this brand and what they've been able to do here in New England. All of those emotions were gone from me when I look around this place, from where started when Robert Kraft bought this football team in 1994. This was beyond my imagination."
On receiving his red jacket and thoughts on Patriots fans:
It was a great feeling. I tried it on Thursday for the media. To put it on today in front of everybody, and they got to see it, and my mom got to see it, my kids, and other Hall of Famers that were here got to see it, and then to join those guys on stage, it's an unbelievable feeling and in my eyes there's no greater honor that you can receive. We can talk about Canton and all those things, and who goes into there, but that's not the same, because these people out here who supported me, and cheered for me, booed me, got after me because they demanded more, because if it wasn't for them voting for me, then I wouldn't be in the Patriots Hall of Fame. This is all I ever cared about, is what my teammates thought, what these people thought, and what the coaches thought.