Tom Brady Explains Challenges Surrounding Decision to Retire or Continue NFL Career

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 9, 2022

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio

Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Tom Brady had a difficult time deciding whether would suit up for a 23rd NFL season, as evidenced by his offseason retirement and subsequent reversal.

The 15-time Pro Bowler explained to reporters Thursday how his perspective is far different than when he was younger, which added to his initial indecision:

"It's very easy when you're 25 to know what you want to do the next year. It's very challenging when you're 43 or 44 because there's a lot of other things that are pressing and a lot of other things that are really important in your life, like your kids and your wife and different relationships, and things are always taking a backseat to football. That's just how it's gone for me. So it's challenging. I've got to work through those things. It's part of what’s challenging about things that’s happening in your life, different decisions you make. I have a great life, I have zero complaints about it, I just try to do the best I can do."

On Feb. 1, Brady announced he was retiring from the NFL. By March 13, he had a change of heart, saying he "realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands."

Following Capital One's The Match on June 1, the 44-year-old offered more insight into his decision-making process. He said wanting to keep playing was "like 55 percent yes and 45 percent no" and "not 100-0."

Brady added he "felt some pressure" when he was on the fence to make up his mind ahead of NFL free agency. The free-agent negotiating window opened March 14, and free agency officially got underway March 16 with the start of the NFL's 2022 league year.

Things worked out for the Buccaneers because they not only retained their starting quarterback but could also turn around and make other moves with the knowledge Brady was back.

Tampa Bay held on to Chris Godwin, William Gholston, Ryan Jensen, Carlton Davis and Leonard Fournette, signed Akiem Hicks and Russell Gage, and traded for Shaq Mason.

But the team could've been in serious trouble if Brady had stayed retired. By the time he returned, the Denver Broncos had lined up a trade for Russell Wilson, and Aaron Rodgers had reaffirmed his commitment to the Green Bay Packers. Derek Carr was on his way toward signing an extension with the Las Vegas Raiders too.

Logical replacements for Brady were in short supply by mid-March.

Based on the legendary signal-caller's comments Thursday, the Bucs will find themselves in the same position next offseason with their fate hanging on his playing status.