NFL – The shortest retirement in history: Why Tom Brady is coming back (already)

Old Trafford, Saturday. Tom Brady attends the match between Manchester United and Tottenham. After the meeting, the mega star of US football exchanges at the edge of the lawn with another legend, that of football without hands, Cristiano Ronaldo. « So, that’s it, you stop? » asks CR7. Brady’s response was not audible, but the expression on his face suggests that, perhaps, the door is not yet fully closed. Still, no one could seriously imagine that forty mere days after announcing his retirement, the most successful quarterback of all time would reconsider his decision.

However, Tom Brady is back. He won’t even have had time to really leave. « In the past two months, I have realized that my place is always on the pitch and not in the stands. That time will come. But it’s not now« , he explained, announcing his decision on Sunday evening. In Tampa, we uncorked the champagne. The Florida franchise has never stopped believing in it. Perhaps because the general manager, Jason Licht, and coach Bruce Arians, have interpreted every little signal in recent weeks as a subliminal message: What if, deep down, Brady wasn’t sure he made the right decision?


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Lots of talk with Tom recently that made us think there was a real chance he wanted to come back

« Never say neverhad entrusted the man to the seven Super Bowls a month ago in a podcast. I feel good about the decision I just made. How I’ll feel in six months, I don’t know.  » So it did not take him six months, but barely six weeks to realize that retirement, ultimately, was not for him yet. There was no forcing on the side of the Buccaneers. We do not force Not helping Tom Brady, but listening, yes, and the contact was never broken.

While his retirement had been the subject of rumors and denials back and forth for days, this time Tampa and Brady have locked down their dealings in recent weeks. Nothing filtered. Even the country’s best-informed insider journalists were taken aback by Sunday’s surprise announcement. The secret was very, very well kept.

« Bruce Arians and I had a lot of talks with Tom recently that made us think there was a real chance he wanted to come back.mentioned Jason Licht on Sunday evening after the announcement of Brady. Tom is the greatest quarterback of all time and he always wants to play at the highest level. » For Bruce Arians, it is the fear of lack, perhaps that of emptiness, which has caught up with the player: « Tom Brady loves his sport more than anyone else I’ve come across. And as he said, his place today is always on a ground. »

Tom Brady and Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians.

Credit: Getty Images

Tampa faces the challenge of free agency

If Brady loves the game itself, this competition-obsessed man probably loves winning more than anything. « There’s a job to finish“, he also slipped at the end of the message announcing his return. He knows he is always competitive, and is not unaware that Tampa Bay was perhaps not so far from the double this year. The Bucs were eliminated by the future champion, the Rams, during a duel with the knife where Brady had almost guided his team to yet another miraculous comeback, by revealing his intentions on Sunday, the eve of the start of the great circus of free agency. , number 12 sent a message to his teammates: don’t leave the ship, the captain is back.

The first effects were not long in being felt. A handful of hours after Tom Brady’s tweet, offensive lineman Ryan Jensen signed a new three-year contract. Jensen, one of the best centers in the country, was one of the main players out of contract in Tampa. A first sign. But the Bucs face a huge challenge, as there are still multiple free agents to manage.

Carlton Davis, Jordan Whitehead, Jason Pierre-Paul or Ndamukong Suh in defense. In attack, besides Jensen, Alex Cappa, Leonard Fournette and Rob Gronkowski are also free. What will the « Gronk », who came out of retirement for the first time to join Brady in Tampa two years ago, do? He reserves his decision and had sworn that his fate was not linked to the decision of his quarterback.

With very limited salary cap leeway, Tampa will certainly not be able to re-sign everyone. But the return of Brady necessarily changes the situation. First, because the prospect of extending the adventure with such a charismatic and legendary leader could encourage some of these free agents to stay. Above all, the simple fact of having Brady again, or rather always, in charge, is enough to put the Buccaneers on the list of contenders for the title. Because beyond the glamour, the stats and the dollars, « Tom Terrific » remains above all one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Even at almost 45 years old.


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