At next Thursday’s season opener, Tom Brady will take the field and the Patriots will raise their fourth Super Bowl banner to the rafters. The latter wouldn’t have happened without the former, team president Jonathan Kraft said: the Patriots couldn’t properly celebrate a championship without its quarterback. If very Brady had remained suspended, a different banner would have gone up as a not-so-subtle shot at the NFL.

In a radio interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub, Kraft said the Super Bowl banner would have waited until Brady’s return if Judge Berman hadn’t overturned Brady’s four-game Ballghazi suspension. The Patriots had something else ready to go on opening night:

Kraft explained that “ ‘1’ and ‘2’ was on it. Not ‘free.’ And there may have been some other things that were on the banner. It was much more factual and substantive than that. Tom may have been a three-time Super Bowl MVP and a four-time Super Bowl winner, and that may have been a part of it too.”

This won’t be the only change to the banners hanging above the end zone. The Patriots announced that the much-maligned 16-0 banner from New England’s perfect 2007 regular season has been taken down. Honestly, that might be a bigger win than getting Brady back.

[CSN New England]