'Never say never'

Rumors persist of Tom Brady's imminent unretirement

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We maybe haven’t seen the last of Tom Brady.
We maybe haven’t seen the last of Tom Brady.
Image: Getty Images

So what’s all this about Brady coming back?

After one of the more dramatic retirement storylines in recent memory, involving an Adam Schefter leak, an official Brady account deleted tweet, and finally an official announcement after days of denial, we all said good-bye to the greatest QB of all time after 22 seasons in the league. Or so we thought.

It’s only been two weeks since the announcement, but the rumor mill is doing what the rumor mill does, and not everyone is convinced that this whole retirement thing is going to stick.


Shortly after the announcement, Brady’s longtime teammate Rob Gronkowski said that he thought Brady would be back “in a couple of years” — despite the fact that the seven-time Super Bowl winner is 44 years old. Pats runningback Brandon Bolden said that he “wouldn’t be surprised if, come July, [Brady’s] trying to get into someone’s camp.” Former teammate Julian Edelman also said that while he wasn’t surprised to hear of Brady’s retirement, he also wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he was coming back.

Even Brady himself didn’t close the door, saying on his “Let’s Go” podcast, “You never say never… I’m just gonna take things as they come.”


Now the comeback rumors (can you even call it a comeback when he hasn’t yet missed a season?) are coming in more concrete predictions as NFL writers and analysts float the idea that Brady might be returning to the field, placing him with his hometown team, the San Francisco 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo is on his way out, but the team has been publicly on the Trey Lance train lately.

PFT’s Mike Florio thinks that Brady’s non-retirement is “unavoidable,” saying on Pro Football Talk Live that it’s a “classic mid-life crisis — step 1, a divorce from the Patriots, step 2, a short-term relationship with a trophy girl [like the] Buccaneers, step 3, a late-night text to the high school sweetheart, a.k.a the 49ers.”

NFL Network’s Mike Girardi reports that there are people close to Brady who “don’t believe for a second that he’s done.” He added that following the Schefter report, “a lot of people [felt] like he was almost forced in that direction.” Brady denied that he had made a decision either way shortly after the initial news broke, but did announce his retirement only a few days afterward.

Few of those who think he’s coming back see him returning to the Buccaneers, and former Patriots guard and current radio host Rich Ohrnberger tweeted that tension between Brady and Bucs head coach Bruce Arians triggered the departure, writing “The retirement announcement wasn’t because of the trouble seeing eye to eye on the offensive game planning, but the relationship was souring.”


So is there any truth behind these rumors? Brady’s own comments offer the strongest evidence that he may not be done, but the rest appears to be pure speculation (and perhaps hopefulness) at the moment. His teammates know him well, and may not be surprised that the hypercompetitive QB would want to return for another ring, but the analysts’ takes don’t appear to have much foundation to stand on apart from some hearsay. Time will tell if Brady decides to make all those retirement tributes meaningless.