Tom Brady is not ready to announce what’s next for him after 22 N.F.L. seasons and seven Super Bowl rings. In his first public comments since ESPN reported that he would be retiring, Brady said on Monday night he was “still going through the process” of making a decision on his future.
“Sometimes it takes some time to really evaluate how you feel and what you want to do,” Brady said on his “Let’s Go!” podcast on Sirius XM Radio with Jim Gray. “When the time’s right, I’ll be ready to make a decision, one way or another.”
Brady, the 44-year-old quarterback, said he was trying to enjoy a “nice weekend” when ESPN published its report on Saturday afternoon, which cited multiple unnamed sources. In the ensuing hours, people close to Brady attempted to press pause on the news cycle, though they stopped short of saying that this was not the end of his career — just that Brady had not yet made a decision. Brady took the same approach on his show Monday, saying that he was going “day by day” since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the N.F.C. playoffs last week.
“There’s a lot of interest in when I am going to stop playing. I understand that, and it’s not that I don’t recognize that,” Brady said. “It’s just when I know I’ll know, and when I don’t know, I don’t know, and I am not going to race to some conclusion about that.”
Brady said he was “disappointed” that the retirement report cut into the conference championship weekend and took away some of the focus from the four teams competing for a Super Bowl bid. The implication in his words: If he is planning to retire, he would not have announced it just yet. The only timeline he gave for making a decision was “when the time’s right.”
Deciding when to walk away is difficult for any player, especially for one who won a Super Bowl last year and this season led the league in passing yards (5,316), completions (485) and touchdowns (43). When Brady signed with the Buccaneers in 2020, after winning six championships in his 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, he joined a ready-made roster with a solid offensive line, top skill players and a strong defense. The team was able to keep its starting lineup intact after last season’s Super Bowl win, but more turnover may be ahead this off-season with a long list of players set to become free agents, including receiver Chris Godwin and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Brady said on last week’s episode of the podcast that his three children and his wife, Gisele Bündchen, deserve more of his time, and that they will make a decision about what’s next as a family.
Nearly as difficult as the decision itself is how to announce it. It’s fair to assume that Brady, who spent his career controlling everything he could possibly control between the white lines, would like to dictate how the news of his retirement is released.
Asked by Gray if the false start on Saturday might tip the scales toward his coming back for another season, Brady responded by saying that he’s mostly motivated “from inside.” Brady has already said that he would not want a farewell tour, calling it “distracting,” but that would be hard to avoid if he returned in 2022.
“I understand my decision affects a lot of people’s lives,” Brady said. “So when that decision comes, it’ll come.”