Aaaand there it is. After one of the more dramatic weekends of sports news in recent memory, the “is he or isn’t he” question has been answered by the man himself. It’s time, as TB12 wrote on Instagram this morning, to “focus [his] time and energy on other things” than football.
We all kind of figured this was the case after the ESPN story broke on Saturday, but there was always the chance that Brady was so pissed about getting scooped on his own retirement announcement that he would come back for a year to spite Adam Schefter. That would involve a full NFL season at 45 years old, but it’s also the type of thing that isn’t completely unrealistic for the 22-year league veteran, and to be fair, it would have been an excellent bit. But alas, seven-time Super Bowl champ and at-least-one-time ball deflater Tom Brady is no longer playing professional football.
I’m not exactly going to be the first to jump up to defend Schefter, but this couldn’t have been an enjoyable weekend for the guy. Rather than just staying on vacation and ignoring the rumors, maybe giving Arians a quick call to smooth things over, Brady chose to tell the world not only that he was still deciding whether to retire, but that he was “not even close to making up his mind.” It’s clear now that he was, in fact, very close to making up his mind, and likely had already made the decision, but was annoyed that he didn’t get to be the one to break the news.
Is that an understandable frustration? Sure. Of course. To a point. I’m going to guess that Schefter didn’t pull that tweet out of his ass. If Brady didn’t retire after that, his credibility would have been completely shot, so I’ll give him the benefit of assuming that he had a good source in his ear on that one. (Gisele? Was it you?) But even without breaking the news himself, all Brady had to do was take an hour to scroll through Twitter or Reddit or Instagram or really anything and essentially get to see himself eulogized while he was still alive and healthy. The highest praises, the greatest admiration, the most expressive thanks — the flattery was off the charts. The celebration of his career was a veritable online funeral, equal parts fond memory and mourning. It was enough to feed an ego for a lifetime. Was Brady really going to make everyone do that all over again? He definitely made it seem like he might for a minute there. At least we all got some good content out of the past three days.
In the end, he goes out in the most annoying way possible — by denying retirement reports for 72 hours before announcing the retirement that was coming all along and making everyone do a second living eulogy after news outlets (and the NFL itself) had to retract their Saturday quick-turnaround stories. He probably took a good couple years off Schefter’s life, too — hope he got on some blood pressure medication this weekend. But Brady is, as of this morning, officially out, and as we saw this weekend, there is no definitive heir to his role in the league right now. There may never be.
I doubt this “retirement” situation lasts too long, though. There’s something about a guy like that that won’t let him stay away from the sport for too long. Michigan head coaching job, anyone?