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Tom Brady is not ready to announce what’s next for him after 22 NFL seasons and seven Super Bowl rings. In his first public remarks since ESPN announced he would retire, Brady said Monday night that he was “still going through the process” of making a decision about his future.
“Sometimes it takes some time to really evaluate how you feel and what you want to do,” Brady said on his “Let’s Go!” podcast on Sirius XM Radio with Jim Gray. “If the time is right, I’ll be ready to make a decision, one way or another.”
Brady, the 44-year-old quarterback, said he was trying to enjoy a “nice weekend” when ESPN published its report on Saturday afternoon, citing several unnamed sources. In the following hours, people close to Brady tried to take a break from the news cycle, though they stopped saying that this was not the end of his career – just that Brady had not yet made a decision. Brady took the same approach on his show Monday, saying he went “day after day” since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC playoffs division round last week.
“There’s a lot of interest in when I stop playing. I understand that, and it’s not that I do not recognize that,” Brady said. “It’s just when I know I’ll know, and if I do not know, I do not know, and I will not race to any conclusion about that.”
Brady said he was “disappointed” with the retirement report Sunday during the conference championship weekend and took some of the focus away from the four teams competing for a Super Bowl bid. The implication in his words: if he was planning to retire, he would not have announced it yet. The only timeline he gave for making a decision was “if the time is right.”
Deciding when to leave is difficult for any player, especially for someone who won a Super Bowl last year and this season led the league in passing yards (5,316), completions (485) and touchdowns (43). When Brady signed with the Buccaneers in 2020, after winning six championships in his 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, he joined a ready-made list with a solid offensive line, top-ranked players and a strong defense. The team was able to keep its starting lineup intact after last season’s Super Bowl victory, but more turnover could be ahead of this off-season with a long list of players who will become free agents, including receiver Chris Godwin and tight-end Rob Gronkowski.
Brady said in last week’s episode of the podcast that his three children and his wife, Gisele Bündchen, deserve more of his time, and that they will make a decision about what’s next as a family.
Almost as difficult as the decision itself is how it is announced. It’s fair to assume that Brady, who spent his career controlling everything he could possibly control between the white lines, would like to dictate how the news of his retirement is released.
Asked by Gray if the false start on Saturday could tip the scales after his return for another season, Brady responded by saying he is mostly “from within”. Brady has already said he would not want to say goodbye, calling it “distracting”, but that would be difficult to prevent if he returned in 2022.
“I understand that my decision affects the lives of many people,” Brady said. “So when that decision comes, it comes.”