Consider Bruce Arians potentially shocked.
The smoke regarding a potential Tom Brady retirement after the 2021 season is building, even though he previously had said — on multiple occasions — that he’ll play through 2022, the year in which he turns 45, and then decide what to do after that.
Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington of ESPN report that sources with the Buccaneers and sources close to Brady “all recognize” that Brady “remains noncommittal” to playing beyond this season. Schefter and Darlington call Brady playing in 2022 “currently far from a given.”
The possibility of Brady leaving, per the report, has “quietly come up” within the Buccaneers’ organization “for weeks now,”with “internal uncertainty” about what the future holds.
The outcome to the current playoff run will be a factor, per the report. If the Bucs win another Super Bowl, Brady becomes more likely to call it quits.
The team’s head coach said Friday that he’d be “shocked” if Brady retires. That could be wishful thinking, if the reporting about the feelings within the team is accurate.
It’s shocking that it’s gotten to this point. The phrase “remains noncommittal” implies that he became noncommittal at some point. When did that happen?
In late September, Brady said he’s definitely playing through 2022, with questions about his future arising in 2023. “Maybe it’s another year after ; maybe it’s two,” Brady said. “I’ll have to see where I’m at with my family. That’s probably the overriding factor — what I’m missing out on.”
Earlier that month, Brady said he wanted to play for the Buccaneers for a long time. “Hopefully, I’ll be here a long time,” Brady said at the time. “For many years.”
Before the season, Brady made it crystal clear that he’ll play through 2022.
“I felt for a long time I could play until I was 45 years old,” Brady said during a SiriusXM town hall. “This year, I’ll be 44. Which naturally takes me to next year, and I’ve got a two-year contract. We’ll see what happens beyond that.”
So how does Brady go from being so certain about playing through 2022 as recently as late September to thinking seriously about retiring? Maybe it’s a family issue; as recently mentioned, no NFL player has missed so much of his family’s life cycle, because no one has been all-in for football so deep into his life. It could be physical. Even though he doesn’t look 44, he quite possibly feels every bit of it — especially after a 17-game regular season (which he opposed) and a playoff game.
He may have been lying to the media about playing through 2022 (he said in June that 90 percent of the things he says publicly aren’t true), in order to avoid a full season of “will he or won’t he?” chatter, along with what could have become a potential farewell tour. Finally, it could be some sort of motivational tactic, aimed at getting everyone in the organization fully focused on capping what could be Tom Brady’s last ride with a Super Bowl win.
Surely, he wants to leave on top if he can. It would be the perfect ending to a perfect career. Actually, it could be the only ending that allows his career to be regarded as truly “perfect.”
However it plays out, something that wasn’t even on the radar screen a week ago is now smack dab in the middle of it, beeping loudly.