TAMPA ― Tom Brady has always been known for his comebacks on the football field, which may explain why when it came to retirement there was no quit in him.
Brady said he got to experience what life was like without being the NFL’s greatest quarterback for six weeks before deciding to return for at least one more season with the Bucs. After that? Who knows?
“I got to figure out what it would be like, which was really interesting for me,” Brady said of his retirement that lasted only 41 days.
“It’s been so much fun for me to come here two years ago, almost two and a half years now. It’s been an incredible part of my football journey, and it’s not over. We’ve still got a lot to accomplish.”
Brady spoke extensively Thursday about his decision to return to the NFL, shortly after the Bucs completed an abbreviated practice in their indoor facility on the final day of mandatory minicamp.
Without providing many details, Brady described his busy offseason, which included producing and appearing in two movies, signing two TV deals, including a 10-year, $375 million contract to become an analyst on Fox once his career really does end.
Brady also refuted a slew of news reports that his relationship with former Bucs head coach Bruce Arians soured following their division-round loss on a field goal as time expired to the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams.
When it came to addressing whether he explored a role with the Miami Dolphins, Brady was less forthcoming.
He neither confirmed nor denied his interest, saying he explored a lot of post-career opportunities.
The focus for the 44-year-old Brady is strictly on winning another Super Bowl with the Bucs. He said he is embracing the change to head coach Todd Bowles, who he described as “old school.”
Brady also said he had no insight into whether tight end Rob Gronkowski will return to the Bucs for another season.
“We’d all love to play with him, but he’s got to make the best decision for himself ... which is what he’s trying to figure out,” Brady said.
Here’s what else he had to say Thursday:
On whether there is any truth to reports his relationship with Arians fractured before the loss to the Rams:
“Zero whatsoever. He and I have a great relationship, and I think that’s part of why I chose (to be) here was because of Bruce. He and I have had incredible communication, and I have great respect for him. He knows how I feel about him. That’s the most important thing. And I know how he feels about me.”
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On reports that he had discussions with the Dolphins about becoming a minority owner or possibly playing for them:
“I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people, as I have the last three or four years of my career about different opportunities when I’m done playing football. You know, I kind of made a decision of what I’d like to do and I’ll get to be in the game of football. I think, for me, the most important thing is where I’m at now and what I hope to do for this team. That’s been my commitment ...
“We’ve still got a lot to accomplish. I’ve got a long life ahead, and there’s a lot of fun things to do ahead. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead in football. But at the same time none of us are promised much beyond what we have now, and this is the current moment and I’m really excited about going out there and trying to compete and win a championship.”
On his indecision about whether to continue his career after leading the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns:
“It’s very easy when you’re 25 to know what you want to do next year. It’s very challenging when you’re 43 or 44, because there’s a lot of other things that are pressing and there are a lot of other things that are really important in your life, like your kids and your wife. ... When the football season starts, everybody knows it’s 100-percent football. It’s just the way you have to be, and that’s a big commitment to make.
“In order to play every game, you’ve got to train really hard, so I’ve got to train hard at 44 years old, which is a big commitment. To try to make those decisions have their challenges. It’s not like it was when I was 25, but I don’t think any of us feel like we felt when we were 25. Thankfully, there’s parts where I’m happy I’m not 25 and there’s other parts where I wish I were like 25. But I have a very complex, tricky life in different aspects and just trying to navigate it the best way I can.”
On becoming a broadcaster for Fox whenever his career ends:
“I fell in love with this sport when I was a young kid, and there’s still a great love for it. I think I always will, and fortunately, beyond it, I’m going to stay in football now. That’s pretty clear. That will be fun. I look forward to whenever that happens and whenever I decide to make that decision to retire, you know, I think there were a lot of things about me ending up not having kind of a normal offseason.
“But I got to figure out what it would look like, which was really interesting for me. Which was good. I got a lot of good discussions with different people and learned a lot. Yeah. It should be a smoother transition then I would’ve thought.”
On how he and Bowles see the game the same way:
“He’s very detailed. Really tough, hard-nosed coach. A little bit of a throwback. You know, you coach in New York, that toughens you up a lot. You coach with (Arians) for a long time, you coach with (Bill) Parcells, you get toughened up. I think he believes in a certain style of play, which is reflected in the way our defense performs.
“I think we’ve got to go play great complementary football between what they do defensively and what we need to do offensively and how the kicking game relates to that. There’s been a lot of competition throughout (organized team activities) and through training camp, and I’ve always loved Todd as a coach. Even when he was coaching against me.”
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