TAMPA — Tom Brady’s career highlights rolled across national media outlets Saturday. Some of his greatest moments from seven Super Bowl victories aired on the NFL Network.
Former teammates took to social media to congratulate Brady on an unparalleled career after CBS, then ESPN reported that he had decided to retire after 22 seasons.
TB12 Sports, his nutrition and fitness company, posted a tweet listing Brady’s career accomplishments and thanking him before deleting it.
An hour after ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington reported Saturday afternoon that Brady is retiring, Bucs general manager Jason Licht received a telephone call from Brady who said he still wasn’t close to making a decision about his future.
Coach Bruce Arians had not received any word about those plans from Brady or his agent. “No he hasn’t (retired) that we know of,” Arians told the Tampa Bay Times just minutes after the media reports. “Agent (Donald Yee) just told us he hasn’t made up his mind.”
Yee said Brady should comment on his future soon.
“I understand the advance speculation about Tom’s future,” Yee said in a statement. “Without getting into the accuracy or inaccuracy of what’s being reported, Tom will be the only person to express his plans with complete accuracy. He knows the realities of the football business and planning calendar as well as anybody, so that should be soon.”
Brady’s father, Tom Sr., told KRON-4 News in San Francisco that his son is not retiring. Brady Sr. said an online publication started circulating an unsubstantiated rumor.
Brady is out of the country and could be next week as well, according to NBC Sports in Boston. He also is owed $15 million of his $20 million signing bonus from the deal he signed last March that is due Feb. 4.
If Brady ultimately does decide to walk away from the NFL, he goes out on top.
While the final season of his illustrious career didn’t end with confetti in his hair, he led the NFL in passing yards (5,316) and touchdowns (43) during the regular season, making the case that even at 44 years old, he was the best to do it at his position.
Those closest to Brady say that while he knows he can absolutely still play at a championship level, the desire to spend more time with his wife and three children has weighed on him to possibly end an outstanding career after 22 seasons.
“Tom loves football, he loves everything about it and he pours all he has into being the best quarterback and leader for his coaches and teammates,” quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen told the Tampa Bay Times. “But he also wants to be a Hall of Fame dad and a Hall of Fame husband. That’s just as important and probably more so than being a Hall of Fame quarterback.”
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In two seasons with the Bucs, Brady won 29 games as well as division, conference and the Super Bowl 55 titles.
He would walk away in tremendous physical condition thanks to his TB12 fitness regimen as the greatest NFL player of all-time with seven Super Bowl rings and 10 appearances in the league’s championship game.
For the Bucs, it would be the end of a two-year fantasy.
Reports of Brady’s possible retirement didn’t catch the Bucs completely off guard. Even though he was under contract for another year and had talked about playing until he was 45, they knew it was a possibility he could walk away at any time.
If he is done, it would leave the Bucs in the market for another quarterback. The only one under contract with the Bucs is Kyle Trask, the Florida Gators star who was inactive every game during his rookie season. Backup Blaine Gabbert is a free agent but would be an option.
However, on Monday Arians talked about wanting to see which quarterback was behind “Door No. 2.”
The Bucs were beset with injuries on both sides of the football in Year 2, but Brady was at his best, winning games with walk-off touchdown passes to Breshad Perriman (in overtime vs. Bills) and Cyril Grayson (at Jets).
Injuries to the offensive line caused Brady to be hit 17 times by the Rams in last weekend’s 30-27 NFC division playoff loss.
“It pains (my wife) to see me get hit out there,” Brady said on his most recent Let’s Go! podcast. “And she deserves what she needs from me as a husband and my kids deserve what they need from me as a dad. ... 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.”
Fans should know soon — officially — if he’ll step away for good to focus on his family.
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