Tom Brady's return to New England with Buccaneers latest homecoming by an iconic athlete |

Tom Brady’s return to New England with Buccaneers latest homecoming by an iconic athlete

It’s being billed as The Return and as Week 4 of the NFL season approaches, it’s the game everyone has been talking about: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady heads back to Foxborough, Massachusetts, to face his former team, the New England Patriots (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC). Brady won an unprecedented six Super Bowl titles in 20 years with the Patriots before securing a seventh ring with the Buccaneers last season.

It’s not the first time an athlete, whom generations of a single fan base have adored and whose identity had been so closely intertwined with a city and its culture, has gone elsewhere and come back as a visitor. But seldom does it happen when an athlete is still on top, reinventing and reinvigorating a career to keep delivering championships.

Adding to the spectacle of Brady’s return Sunday at Gillette Stadium is it comes almost exactly 20 years to the day since his first NFL start, and with him sitting on the cusp of another milestone. With 80,291 passing yards, Brady needs 68 to break the NFL record held by Drew Brees (80,358).

“I have great respect and admiration for my time there,” Brady said of New England. “I had 20 great years there. … It was a great time in my life.”

When other iconic athletes returned to the places they cultivated their careers and called home, how did it feel? Did they manage to keep their emotions in check? How did the fans react?

ESPN reporters Brian Windhorst, Greg Wyshynski, Mark Ogden, Mechelle Voepel, Rob Demovsky and Dave Schoenfield take you inside other memorable return games in sports. — Jenna Laine

LeBron James vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers

The departure: On July 8, 2010, ESPN aired “The Decision” and James announced he was going to the Miami Heat.

The return: Dec. 2, 2010

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