The 2018 off-season has been a whirlwind adventure for New England Patriots fans. Between losing several fan favorites in free agency to reported tension between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady to rumors of Rob Gronkowski’s retirement, this off-season has been one of the longest in recent memory. However, the biggest worry of them all is off the table. Tom Brady isn’t going anywhere, and he’s all but confirmed he’s aiming to play until he’s 45.
Patriots Fans Rejoice: Tom Brady Isn’t Going Anywhere
Brady’s “imminent” retirement has been in the news for the majority of 2018 and picked up steam after the series finale of “Tom vs. Time”. In the show’s climax, Brady implied that the competitive fire within him might soon be going out. He said that he wants to be more present in his children’s lives and that the end of his career was in sight.
The talk behind this rumor only grew after a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey. One of the most eye-opening quotes from the 45-minute interview came when Brady said that “…there’s definitely an end coming, sooner rather than later.” While he didn’t give a specific timeframe, some fans took that to mean that 2018 would be his last season or 2019 at the absolute latest.
However, Brady silenced those talks on an Instagram post. On a post by ESPN regarding Brady’s possible retirement, Brady commented “cuarenta y cinco”, which is Spanish for 45. Brady states many times before that he intends to play until at least 45, so it’s easy to read into what Brady’s cryptic comment referred to.
The question now becomes is Brady telling the truth? Does Brady truly intend to play until 45, or is he just trying to save face following the Oprah interview? While it’s impossible to know for sure, there are several reasons to believe Brady’s Instagram comment was nothing but the truth.
Does Brady Mean It?
Historically, Brady has always said that he wants to keep his football career alive as long as possible. Despite his advanced age, he says football has never been easier for him, and his body has never felt better.
“I have the answers to the test now…[i]t’s not as hard as it used to be,” Brady said following Super Bowl LI. While it may sound arrogant, it’s true. Brady has played the game for so long that there’s no defense he hasn’t seen. He’s at the top of his game, and his three-year stretch from 2015-2017 rivals any in his career. He’s clearly not wearing down, so it’s not like a lack of production could be playing into early retirement thoughts.
Additionally, he’s stated as recently as 2017 that he wants to play several more seasons. “I’d like to play until my mid-40’s, then I’ll make my decision,” Brady said roughly a year and a half ago. Brady is entering his age-41 season, so that means he should have at least three more seasons left in the tank.
There are countless more examples of Brady expressing the desire to play for as long as he humanly can. Prior to the 2014 season, Brady famously declared “[w]hen I suck, I’ll retire.” Brady just won MVP, so he certainly doesn’t suck yet. His workout and diet routine is one of the most intense in sports, and he devoted basically his whole life to sustain his play. If he didn’t plan on doing this for a while, he wouldn’t sacrifice this much for the sport.
All of this is to say that this makes his comments to Oprah all that more perplexing. However, when analyzing his comments a little deeper, it’s clear that Brady is not contemplating retirement for the immediate future.
Reading Into the Oprah Interview
Brady says that he wants to play into his mid-40’s, but he also said that he sees an end coming “sooner, rather than later.” While these appear to be contradictory statements, they’re actually not. Both statements can be true, and that’s due to the longevity of Brady’s career.
Tom Brady entered the NFL in 2000 and is now entering his 19th season in the league. He’ll be 41 years old on opening day, and only four years away from being 45. By the standards of Brady’s long career, four years is not that long a time. In order for the end to be later, rather than sooner, Brady would need to play until the 2039 season. That’s obviously not going to happen, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Brady is closer to the end of his career than the beginning.
Additionally, there were several other quotes from the Oprah interview which show that Brady’s competitive fire has never burned brighter. At one point, Oprah asked about the sacrifices Brady makes for his career, and Brady gave an enlightening answer.
“I put a lot into it. I’ve got decisions in the course of the day…so when you fail in your career, you look at all those decisions in your life and you go, is it worth it?… Why don’t I just give a [crap] less? But I don’t think that’s my personality, because I really do care. When I look at my teammates, I want them to know that I care.”
Brady acknowledges that he’s sacrificed a lot for football, including a lot of time with his family. However, he also states that he’s not the type of person to let those sacrifices stop him. His heart is still in the game, and he still loves playing football.
Last Word on Brady
It’s not natural for a quarterback to remain this productive this late into their career. Most ordinary human beings wouldn’t want to make the sacrifices Brady does on a daily basis after accomplishing all he has accomplished.
However, that’s what makes Brady so great. His competitive fire is burning as strong as ever, and he’ll be the Patriots quarterback for at least the next three years. Contrarily, Father Time is still undefeated, and Brady knows that. Ideally, Brady will make it until 45, but no matter how much time is left, savor every second of it. There’s never going to be anything like this again.
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