Questions about Tom Brady’s future intensified Saturday after reports surfaced that he planned to retire after 22 seasons in the NFL. His agent refused to put a timeline for such a decision or confirm the veracity of the reports.
“Without getting into the accuracy or inaccuracy of what is being reported, Tom will be the only person to express his plans with complete accuracy,” Brady’s agent, Don Yee, said in a statement Saturday. “He knows the realities of the football business and the planning schedule better than anyone, so he should be there soon.”
Brady, who once said he would retire only when his performance began to wane, led the league in passing yards (5,316), completions (485) and touchdowns (43) for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. Brady, 44, and the Buccaneers lost last week in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Los Angeles Rams after the quarterback almost led his team to another incredible comeback.
Brady is under contract with the Buccaneers through the 2022 season, but the team would recoup $16 million of his signing bonus if he retires.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington first reported that Brady would retire around 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, citing “multiple sources.” Brady’s lifestyle brand, TB12, appeared to confirm the news on his Twitter account minutes later, but later deleted his post.
At the time of news, a Buccaneers representative said he could not confirm Brady’s retirement. Bruce Arians, the team’s head coach, told the Tampa Bay Times that Brady had not informed the organization of his plans to retire.
Adding to the confusion, Brady’s retirement was featured on the front page of NFL.com, which quoted insider Ian Rapoport. The retirement was also widely covered by the official NFL social media accounts.
Meanwhile, a league spokesman, Brian McCarthy, said the NFL had not been officially informed that Brady would retire. The NFL is not just a football league, but also a media company competing to report news like any other, two extremes that sometimes uncomfortably intersect.
Yee’s statement attempted to stop the commotion and potentially allow Brady to announce his future plans on his own terms, but the news cycle was already underway. At 4 p.m. Eastern time, Mike Silver reported for Bally Sports that Brady had contacted Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht to tell him that he had not made a final decision on his retirement. Bay Area news station KRON followed up with a report quoting Brady’s father, Tom Brady Sr., as saying his son is not retiring.
ESPN said in a statement that it stood by the Schefter and Darlington reports, and Schefter reiterated that position on air during a network appearance during halftime of a broadcast of a college basketball game.
Brady’s public comments in the days since Tampa Bay’s season ended seemed to point to his retirement. In his “Come on!” podcast with Jim Gray last week, he talked about wanting to be more available to his wife, Gisele Bundchen, and his three children and said he would make a decision with them about what comes next.
If this is all, so many details of Brady’s career sound apocryphal. His seven championships are more than he has won by any franchise. He would go on to retire as the NFL’s career leader in touchdown passes, yards and wins. He has won the Super Bowl MVP award five times. Only one other quarterback, John Elway, even started five Super Bowls.
Brady shot to stardom with the New England Patriots, rising from a sixth-round pick in 2000, No. 199 overall, to the most prominent on-field member of an enduring dynasty. But since the Patriots were unwilling to sign him to a long-term contract, Brady in March 2020 left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, leaving the only team and head coach he played for, Bill Belichick, for one of the franchises. least successful in the NFL.
With the Buccaneers, Brady mastered a new offense, adjusted to new teammates and coaches and dominated the league, all while the coronavirus pandemic restricted in-person contact. He won his seventh title, over Kansas City, last February at the Buccaneers’ home stadium.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism