Tom Brady's homecoming has begun.
Brady trotted onto the Gillette Stadium field for warmups about an hour before kickoff Sunday against the Bengals as he prepared to make his home regular-season debut after serving his four-game "Deflategate" suspension.
The Patriots quarterback made his official return last week in New England's 33-13 win Cleveland, but he hasn't played a home game in Foxborough since the Patriots' Jan. 16, 2016 playoff win over Kansas City. Brady missed the preseason home opener against New Orleans to attend a memorial service for a family member. He missed the second preseason game a week later after accidentally cutting his right thumb with a pair of scissors pregame.
The reminders of Brady's absence and return to Foxborough were everywhere around Gillette on Sunday.
Businesses diplayed signs along the highway leading to the stadium welcoming back the four-time Super Bowl champion.
— Kyle Hightower (@khightower) October 16, 2016
There were also signs of fans' ire toward Commissioner Roger Goodell, who many blame for treating Brady and the Patriots unfairly during the 21-month odyssey that has hovered over the franchise after an NFL investigation concluded the Patriots intentionally underinflated footballs used in the AFC Championship game on Jan. 18, 2015.
En route to Patriots game. pic.twitter.com/9QYUWMYr1U
— Jimmy Golen (@jgolen) October 16, 2016
— Joe Perry (@JoePerry) October 9, 2016