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Even in 18th season, Tom Brady expects nerves on opening night

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Even a two-time NFL MVP and five-time Super Bowl champion gets butterflies on opening night. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is expecting them on Thursday before leading his team into action at Gillette Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET).

“There will definitely be nerves and being anxious, but that’s part of football,” Brady said Monday after practice. “Once you get out there and get going, those things calm down.”

Tom Brady: "The opener, everyone is pretty amped up. ... We're starting a marathon."

Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer

Brady, who begins his 18th NFL season, believes most players feel the same way.

“Playing sports, everyone works hard and it’s very unpredictable. You never know what’s going to happen. As players, it feels like that too,” he said. “We’re prepared, we’re confident, but you still have to go out there and do it.”

Another part of it is the anticipation of a long-awaited game on the schedule.

“It’s great that we’re here. I think all the players look forward to this weekend,” he said. “It’s a long offseason, it’s a lot of preparation, and it’s for this game. When the schedule comes out, this first game is the only one you’re really looking at in preparation. Everything is building for this week. It goes for both sides. I’m sure they’re looking forward to it too. I’m excited for this year and see if all the work we put in could amount to something. It’s going to be a fun week.”

The Patriots, who have won their past eight home openers played on Kickoff Weekend, will unveil their Super Bowl LI championship banner on Thursday night. A construction project was recently completed to make space for the banner, as it required raising a nearly 8,000-pound Gillette Stadium sign/structure.

Brady said the ceremony is more for fans than players, who might not be on the field at the time of the banner unveiling -- an event that should contribute to a raucous atmosphere.

“The opener, everyone’s always pretty amped up for this one; been waiting a long time for this,” Brady said. “Starting the season, I know they have a lot of events planned, probably all the families coming in. It’s a big game. An important one.

"We’re playing one of the best teams in the AFC. Last year, they were the second seed. They try to make this game big, they have good teams playing, and we know we’re going to have to play a great game in order to win.”