Tom Brady couldn’t stay away after all. His retirement lasted less than six weeks, reversing course to announce his intentions of returning to Tampa Bay for his 23rd NFL season. Harkening back to memories of Brett Favre with the Jets and Vikings, Brady’s “retirement” more so served as a long vacation. Brady will be 45 when he takes his next NFL snap, starting his professional journey before most of the athletes in the NCAA Tournament were born.
On Selection Sunday, the true loser wasn’t any of the teams settling to play in the NIT. It was Blaine Gabbert. Any chance Brady’s two-year back-up with Tampa Bay had of guiding the Buccaneers next season is dead. This is Tom’s team, and really, Tom’s league until he says otherwise.
Brady announced his “retirement” on Feb. 1, seemingly ending the career of the most prosperous quarterback of all-time. He spent 39 days as a former athlete before deciding to come back to the NFL for at least one more year. Of course, he may change his mind again and actually never play another down. Brady could also play until he’s 50.
Statistically, Brady walking away from football never made sense. The longtime Patriot finished the 2021 season with an NFL-record 485 pass completions and a career-high 5,316 passing yards. He threw 43 touchdowns and only a dozen interceptions. Brady is the oldest player in NFL history to pass for at least 5,000 yards, with his 2021 total representing the third-highest mark in a single season in the league’s existence.
Brady’s timing comes less than a day before NFL free agency begins, as some of the Buccaneers’ key players, including center Ryan Jensen and running back Leonard Fournette, could have signed with other teams starting at Noon EST on Monday. Now many of the pieces Brady led to a Super Bowl victory in the 2020 season and a close loss to the eventual-champion Rams in NFC Divisional Round should return to Tampa Bay this coming season.