It seems almost unnatural to think about Tom Brady retiring. The long-time face of the New England Patriots and current quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has beaten all the odds. He’s faced down Father Time and proven that Tom Terrific is the greater inevitability.
Brady has ruined it for everyone else. Winning multiple championships is the only expectation that matters for a quarterback anymore. He’s made playing well into his 40s seem like something everybody should be able to do, even though we know he’s the exception and not the rule.
Brady is otherwordly. Brady is a force of nature. He’s unstoppable. He’s the GOAT of GOATS.
By the sounds of it, though, he may finally be willing to put that aura aside and focus on the only thing that could ever conceivably take him away from the football field: his family.
Tom Brady seems to be honestly considering retirement this time around
Brady was clear the night the Buccaneers won Super Bowl 55 that he was coming back for another round. He wanted to get the gang back together to give it another shot and see if he could bring a second straight title to Tampa and add the eighth ring to his collection.
“Yeah we’re coming back. You already know that,” he said to the cheers of the crowd.
The high of winning a Super Bowl and the passion for chasing another undoubtedly painted Brady’s thoughts on that February night in front of the home crowd.
The scene was different at Raymond James Stadium at the end of this season, though.
Brady and the Bucs were listless for much of the game against the Los Angeles Rams but came roaring back in the fourth quarter to make an incredible comeback, scoring 14 points in the last four minutes to tie the game and put a scare into LA. A heroic throw from Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp set up a game-winning field goal for the Rams, but up until that point, it appeared that the inevitability of Brady was once again going to rear its head.
Could that final spurt of greatness have been the last gasp of Brady’s career?
After the game, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians did not feel comfortable commenting on his quarterback’s future.
“That’s up to Tom,” Arians said when asked whether Brady would be coming back for another season.
Brady himself was equally non-committal about his future.
“I haven’t a put a lot of thought into it. So, we’ll just take it day by day and see where we’re at,” he said, via Mike Giardi.
Brady adds more fuel to the retirement fire
A few days after the loss to the Rams and with some time to process under his belt, Brady didn’t do much to throw any cold water on the retirement speculation. In fact, he may have added a few logs onto the fire while speaking on his podcast.
He talked about his family and how much they’ve supported him this season. He mentioned his wife, Gisele Bündchen, and how it’s tough for her to see him play the game at times.
“The biggest difference now that I’m older is I have kids now, too, you know, and I care about them a lot as well. They’ve been my biggest supporters. My wife is my biggest supporter,” Brady told Jim Gray, as transcribed by NFL.com. “It pains her to see me get hit out there. And she deserves what she needs from me as a husband and my kids deserve what they need from me as a dad.”
Brady also mentioned that any decision he does make wouldn’t come down to just what he wants to do as a football player. He’s taking into account being a father and a husband.
“I said this a few years ago, it’s what relationships are all about. It’s not always what I want. It’s what we want as a family,” Brady said. “And I’m gonna spend a lot of time with them and figure out in the future what’s next.”
Perhaps the most telling thing Brady said came when he was talking about what brings him joy. He’s been playing in the NFL for seemingly forever, and you don’t do something for that long unless you genuinely enjoy it. Nobody has ever doubted Brady’s love for the game. That’s why he keeps coming back, right?
The legendary quarterback did say that there’s one other thing that brings him joy as well, though, and that statement alone makes it seem that he truly is thinking about stepping away this offseason. In fact, it makes it seem inevitable.
“Playing football I get so much joy from. I love it. But not playing football, there’s a lot of joy in that for me also now, too, with my kids getting older and seeing them develop and grow,” Brady said. “So all these things need to be considered and they will be.”
Brady will leave a legacy of greatness when he does retire
With seven Super Bowl wins under his belt, when Brady does decide to hang his cleats up, he’ll do so as the undisputed greatest of all time.
The incredible thing about his potential retirement, though, is that he still clearly does have plenty of game left in the tank. No, he didn’t look great against the Rams, but the late-game surge showed you that he still has the fire in his belly to be the greatest of all time.
Playoff disappointment aside, he also had an incredible 2021 season. Brady threw for 5,316 yards and 43 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. Both his yardage and touchdown totals led the league, putting him ahead of players like Matthew Stafford, Justin Herbert, and Patrick Mahomes.
Remember, this is a guy who’s 44 years old, and he outplayed extremely talented quarterbacks who also happen to be much younger. Stafford is the oldest of the above-mentioned quarterbacks, and he’s only 33.
It’s incredible when you think about it. For Brady to be 44 and still playing like the best quarterback in the league is just as much a part of his legendary legacy as the seven Super Bowls. Nobody has been able to do what he’s done before, and it’s very likely that nobody will be able to do it again.
It seems almost comical that this otherwise otherworldly figure will eventually succumb to “normal” life just like the rest of us.
“The funny part is always that most guys retire and then move to Florida. I’m already in Florida! So it’s really confusing, even to me,” Brady said.
One has to imagine that when he does decide to retire, he’ll crush that too…once he figures out the arrangements.