Well, that didn’t last long.
“These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands,” Brady, 44, posted. “That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business LFG.”
Brady, the greatest quarterback and winningest player in NFL history, had officially announced his retirement after 22 seasons on Feb. 1.
Brady had made the retirement announcement in a lengthy Instagram post. “I’ve done a lot of reflecting the past week and have asked myself difficult questions,” he wrote. “And I am so proud of what we have achieved. My teammates, coaches, fellow competitors, and fans deserve 100% of me, but right now, it’s best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes.”
Brady continued to heap effusive praise and thanks on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization, where he played his final two seasons, but his statement did not mention the New England Patriots, where he played his first 20 — nor did it mention Patriots owner Robert Kraft or his longtime coach Bill Belichick.
While Brady — thanks to his “TB12 Method” toward health, training, and wellness — had previously hinted that he would play until at least the age of 45, his decision to retire came just over a week after the 44-year-old quarterback lost on a last-second field goal to the Los Angeles Rams, despite leading the Buccaneers on one of his typical fourth-quarter comebacks.
“I understand that at this stage in my career, there is going to be interest in my future whenever a season ends, but this week, all that is on my mind is the gratitude I have for this team and the fans that have supported us all year long. This year has been incredibly rewarding personally and professionally and I am appreciative of everyone who worked their ass off to help our team achieve so much,” Brady wrote on Instagram after the game. “I always want to win, I think that’s pretty apparent by now, but that doesn’t mean I equate losing to failure, especially when you go out fighting the way we did… There’s so much to appreciate in a season like this when you’re surrounded by a team that believes in each other, and plays for the people standing on either side of them.”
A sixth-round pick (and 199th overall) by the New England Patriots in the 2000 NFL Draft out of the University of Michigan, Brady was the seventh quarterback drafted that year. After spending his rookie season on the bench backing up Patriots’ All-Pro QB Drew Bledsoe, Brady was forced into the starting role in 2001 after Bledsoe was injured in Week 3. Brady would never relinquish the role, guiding the Patriots to their first-ever Super Bowl victory in only his second season; Brady was also named MVP of Super Bowl XXXVI, the first of his five Super Bowl MVP awards.
For the next 20 seasons in Foxborough, Brady would lead the Patriots to five more Super Bowls (in nine appearances), 17 AFC East division titles, and 13 AFC Championship Games. Brady also won three NFL MVP awards, was selected to the Pro Bowl 15 times, and established the NFL records for most wins by a quarterback, most touchdowns, most passing yards, and most completions.
However, Brady’s career was not without setbacks and controversies: He missed the entire 2008 season after he tore his ACL during Week One. Years later, the quarterback was embroiled in the infamous “Deflategate” scandal, where it was alleged that Brady demanded that — prior to a cold-weather game — the footballs be illegally deflated in order to better control them; following an investigation and failed appeal, Brady was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season.
Already established as the G.O.A.T. QB thanks to his clutch and comeback performances — Super Bowl LI in 2017, for example — Brady further cemented his legacy when he joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 and, in just one season, steered that team from a 7-9 record to a Super Bowl championship over the Kansas City Chiefs, the favored defending champs. The win, which proved that Brady could win without his longtime Patriots coach Bill Belichick, marked Brady’s seventh Super Bowl victory — two more than the next closest player — and his fifth Super Bowl MVP. However, his campaign for back-to-back Super Bowl wins with Tampa Bay ended with the loss to the Rams; soon after, NFL insiders began to question Brady’s future.
In a recent interview with Jim Gray, Brady — who is married to supermodel Gisele Bündchen — used the word “satisfied” to describe his NFL career, ESPN reports, adding that his family would play a large role in whether he continued to play football.
“I said this a few years ago, it’s what relationships are all about,” Brady said. “It’s not always what I want. It’s what we want as a family. And I’m going to spend a lot of time with them and figure out in the future what’s next.”
This post has been updated to reflect Tom Brady’s un-retirement announcement.