Did Tom Brady crack the door to playing again? ‘The future is always hard to predict’

The former Bucs quarterback said he won’t begin his duties at the “NFL on Fox” until the fall of 2024.
Tom Brady (12) said he gave everything he had to football during his 23 seasons in the NFL, including the past three with the Bucs.
Tom Brady (12) said he gave everything he had to football during his 23 seasons in the NFL, including the past three with the Bucs. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Feb. 6|Updated Feb. 7

TAMPA — Tom Brady said he decided only last week to retire from the NFL after 23 seasons. But when asked Monday if there is a 1% chance he could resume his playing career, he deftly sidestepped the question.

In fact, Brady said he won’t begin his job as the lead analyst on the “NFL on Fox” until the fall of 2024, which, presumably, leaves him available to return to play at any point next season.

“I think the finality of it was just last week,” Brady told host Colin Cowherd on “The Herd” on Fox Sports Radio. “I think the future is always very hard to predict for all of us. Nothing is really guaranteed. But I think you just take it day by day. As my friend tells me, the future happens a day at a time. I’m super excited. I really am. I think there’s a lot of great things ahead.

Later, on his “Let’s Go!” podcast, Brady made it clear to co-host Jim Gray that he wasn’t retiring because he could no longer play at a high level. He just passed for 4,694 yards with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions this past season, leading the Bucs to a second straight NFC South title and third consecutive playoff appearance.

“No, that’s not it. There’s always going to be a part of me that wants to play,” Brady said. “And a part of me that feels like I can play, it’s just a decision where I know it’s the right thing to do at this time.

“I think for me, it’s going to end at some point and I think now is the time. It’s not that I can’t do it, it’s not that I wouldn’t want to do it, it’s not that I wouldn’t be excited to play. I love playing football! ... It’s just a decision that it’s time to do other things.”

During his farewell video, Brady said he was retiring “for good,” but admitted Monday he doesn’t know how he will feel come August. However, he said he has no plan to go back on his word.

“I know how I feel today and I’m very happy,’' Brady said. “What the future holds, who knows? But I don’t ever envision it. But again, I don’t want to leave the door open for people to say, ‘Well, Tom Brady blah, blah, blah.’ No. It’s like I’m very content where I’m at.”

Brady said he is “super proud” of how he devoted himself to football and the things he was able to accomplish during his 23 seasons in the NFL.

“I felt like I’ve given a lot, I’ve gained a lot. I’ve learned a lot. And life is about, you know, exciting things ahead,” he said. “I think when one thing closes, like football has for me, you know, 32 years of my life, and I look forward to what’s ahead.

“There’s new chapters and there’s new exciting things and there’s new growth and new opportunities. I’m really excited for what’s ahead. I’ve loved my time in football. It’s absolutely an incredible love in my life and it’s hard to make decisions like that, but it’s certainly the right time.”

Brady signed a 10-year, $375 million contract to be the lead analyst on NFL games for Fox in May 2022. But apparently, he’s in no hurry to get behind a microphone.

Stay updated on the Buccaneers

Stay updated on the Buccaneers

Subscribe to our free Bucs RedZone newsletter

We’ll deliver a roundup of news and commentary on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers weekly during the season.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

It has left the door open for speculation as to whether he could be coaxed into playing at some point during the 2023 season.

Last August, the Miami Dolphins forfeited a first-round pick in 2023 and a third-rounder in 2024 for tampering with Brady from 2019-2020. The Dolphins have said they’re committed to Tua Tagovailoa as their starter, but he missed parts of six games with concussions.

“I think, for me, I want to be great at what I do,” Brady said. “I think even talking last week to people at Fox Sports and the leadership there allowing me to start my Fox opportunity in the fall of 2024 is something that’s great for me. Take some time to really learn. Become great at what I want to do. Become great at thinking about the opportunity and making sure I don’t rush into anything.”

Brady said he wants to make sure he’s as committed and prepared as he can be before starting his broadcast career.

“I think when people really bet on me, one thing about my career, when I was drafted by the Patriots or signed in free agency with the Bucs, I want to be you know, fully committed and I never wanted to let people down,” he said. “I think my biggest motivator was that.”

Brady has been spending time with his three children. Cowherd indicated on Monday that Brady was in New York, where his oldest son, Jack, lives with his mother, actress Bridget Moynahan.

Brady was joined on his podcast Monday by Patriots coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Peyton Manning and his parents, Tom Sr. and Galynn.

Manning revealed he chose to continue his career with the Broncos because they were in the AFC and he wanted to continue his rivalry with Brady and the Patriots.

“I enjoyed those games and enjoyed that rivalry; that was one of the reasons I decided to stay in the AFC in Chapter 2 for me,” Manning said.

According to his parents, Brady’s career was a vehicle to keep their extended family together for the past 23 years.

“People always say, ‘You must be so happy to hear he’s retiring,” Galynn said. “We are happy, but there’s a sadness that goes with it too, because I love watching him run on the field and his enthusiasm and yelling, “Let’s go!’ I think you’re right … I don’t think there will ever be another TB12 out there.”

• • •

Sign up for the Bucs RedZone newsletter to get updates and analysis on the latest team and NFL news from Bucs beat writer Joey Knight.

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.