Tom Brady stepped away from the NFL for a little over a month. But that was all he had in him. For now.
On Sunday, Brady rocked the NFL world when he announced he is coming out of retirement for his 23rd season. Brady made the declaration just moments after the NCAA’s March Madness Selection Sunday show.
These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. 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 pic.twitter.com/U0yhRKVKVm
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) March 13, 2022
If you’re wondering just how bizarre this announcement is, well:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 13, 2022
Brady coming out of retirement is not shocking
From the moment he announced it, Brady’s retirement status seemed to be teetering on the verge of him coming back. Just six days after his retirement, Brady threw fuel on flames of his return, saying on his podcast “you never say never” about a potential return. On top of that, the manner in which Brady retired didn’t sit right with a lot of people, with it initially being leaked, denied by Brady himself, and then confirmed later on by Brady again.
Brady seemed torn in his decision.
MORE: Why some people think Tom Brady won’t stay retired for long
Bruce Arians hardly did anything to quell the rumors, either, saying the Buccaneers would “leave the light on” if Brady wanted to return. Other Buccaneer players — including free agent-to-be Rob Gronkowski — also kept the option of Brady returning open.
Just before confirming his retirement, Brady put a lot of emphasis on committing to his family, and seemed to be flustered with the way things played out. “I was trying to enjoy a nice weekend,” he said on his podcast “Let’s Go!” with Jim Gray when the rumors hit a fever pitch. “It didn’t turn out that way.”
Ultimately, Brady coming back could have boiled down to a change of heart, but this appeared to have been in the works. When Cristiano Ronaldo asked him over the weekend if he was staying retired, Brady looked entirely noncommittal.
Keep in mind, Brady posted this himself. He didn’t want to hide it.
Timing of Brady’s announcement
The timing is also important, with the new league year set to begin on Tuesday and the Buccaneers having a lot of work to do in free agency to retain their core group.
By announcing his decision to return to Tampa tonight, Tom Brady sends a message to the 24 Buccaneers free agents who could have begun entering into agreements with other teams at noon Monday.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2022
MORE: NFL free agency predictions 2022: Projected landing spots for top 22 free agents, from J.C. Jackson to Rob Gronkowski
The Buccaneers immediately become contenders again with this announcement, as Brady looks for his second Super Bowl in three years with his new team. Brady and Bucs lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams in the NFC Divisional Round this year. This could be as simple as Brady wanting to go out on top. If the Buccaneers can retain some core players, he’ll certainly have the fire simple to do so.