With the kind of speed he never displayed on the actual football field, Tom Brady has reversed course and decided to unretire from the NFL. He stated on various social media accounts that he’ll be back in Tampa Bay for the 2022 season.
“These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands,” Brady tweeted. “That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business.”
Brady officially announced his retirement on Feb. 1, so the whole thing lasted just 40 days. It’s a Britney Spears marriage. Brett Favre was impressed with the reversal. Barry Sanders never changed direction so effortlessly.
Whatever happened, 40 days must have felt like two months to Brady. Too many handyman tasks around the house? Did the stock market dip decimate his nest egg? Or was it the surging gas prices?
Who cares? Brady is back and for the NFL in general, and the Buccaneers in particular, this is terrific.
There will be plenty of days post-Brady. The league is more fun with him in it.
He’ll turn 45 during training camp, fulfilling a once-mocked goal of playing to that age. Yet he will enter the season with the active ironman streak among quarterbacks – 107 games (and none missed due to injury since 2009). He can pad his career stats (playoffs included) such as crossing the 100,000 passing yard mark (currently 97,569).
He has played in 365 games, won 278 of them, including 35 in the playoffs. There have been 67 game-winning drives and 710 touchdowns.
It’s not like he has been fading of late. He completed 67.5 percent of his passes in 2021 for 5,316 yards and 43 touchdowns. The Bucs went 13-4 and looked to be having a lot of fun.
In the divisional round, Brady led Tampa back from 27-3 to tie the Los Angeles Rams in the final minute. It took a dramatic Matthew Stafford game-winning drive to beat him.
Had Leonard Fournette not scored on what was a fourth-and-1 attempt from the 9, it’s possible the Bucs would have run the clock down, scored to tie the game, won the coin flip and gone on to win the Super Bowl.
Instead, Stafford got time and the rest is history. The Lombardi Trophy is in L.A.
There is absolutely no way Brady hasn’t thought about how close Tampa was … and just how wide-open the NFC remains compared to his old AFC, which is now loaded with quarterback talent.
Tampa needs a lot of work in keeping and developing a Super Bowl-caliber roster for this fall, but the key piece is in place. Brady tends to draw in talent, and free agency is about to begin.
Per various social media accounts Brady spent the past six or so weeks on vacations, with family and most recently visiting Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored three goals in his presence. After the game, Ronaldo asked Brady if he was retired and Brady appeared non-committal.
Hours later, he was back.
Brady isn’t any different than most athletes. They stop playing when someone tells them it’s time to stop playing. Maybe it’s getting cut in high school. Maybe it’s when no college recruiter ever shows interest. Maybe it’s when the draft comes and goes – Brady had to wait until the 199th selection before New England took him in 2000.
Maybe it’s when no team really wants them.
That isn’t Brady. Not yet. Tampa had no viable replacement. The immediate future was uninspired. Who knows if Brady can really still lead the Bucs to another Super Bowl – his eighth – but if nothing else the season is exciting again.
Tom Brady still has more football in him. He still has the competitive fire that drove him this long. He gave the retirement life a brief chance and immediately realized that it wasn’t for him.
Good for Brady. He’s playing for the love of the game, for himself, for his own worth. The dream he pursued all those years ago growing up in San Mateo, California, overshadowed by his older sisters, deep on the depth chart at Michigan or a late-round draft pick in New England are still his dreams.
Brady is back. Retirement can wait.
LFG, as he’d say.