(NEW YORK) — Just 40 days after Tom Brady announced his retirement, the quarterback called an audible on his previous plan and said his place is still on the football field.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion posted on social media Sunday, one day before NFL free agency negotiations start, that he was coming out of retirement for a 23rd season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“These past two months I have realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands,” Brady wrote. “I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. We have unfinished business.”
ESPN NFL insider Jeff Darlington weighed in on the 44-year-old’s reversal, telling ABC News’ Good Morning America that Brady left the window of opportunity open.
“I’d love to say that I was shocked, but just understanding the fact that the Bucks themselves sort of knew in the last few weeks that Tom Brady wasn’t exactly fully committed to retirement, that there was some willingness to believe that ultimately Brady would come back,” Darlington said.
When Brady said he would retire in January, the sports world celebrated him as the greatest quarterback that ever played the game. But even after his career seemed to be closing, Brady opened the door to playing almost immediately in an episode of his podcast.
“You know, you never say never,” he hinted on “Let’s Go! with Tom Brady, Larry Fitzgerald and Jim Gray.”
“It does feel a little bit surprising from the standpoint that Brady is always so methodical about his decision-making, always so decisive,” Darlington said. “And in this case, ultimately just felt like he wasn’t done yet. And maybe he was premature by ultimately thinking he was.”
When asked what more he has to prove after his initial retirement announcement, Brady previously told GMA: “I don’t think proving it for me is the motivation. Like I still want to play. I got like a little sickness in me that just wants to throw a frickin spiral. You know what I mean? Also about football once you stop you cant go back and do it. I got some more football in me. Not a lot and I know that, but what I got left I’m gonna give it everything I got.”
Brady is not the first to change his mind about coming back to the gridiron; Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre came out of retirement twice after his first attempt in 2008 to continue his 20-year NFL career that ultimately ended with the Minnesota Vikings in 2010.
Plus, Brady’s 2021 stats speak for itself; he set a career-high 5,316 passing yards and led the league with 43 touchdown passes.
Longtime teammate Rob Gronkowski came out of his retirement when Brady first made the move from New England and followed him to Tampa Bay in 2020. Now, with free agency opening in just hours, fans of the football duo have speculated what this will mean for the tight end.
ABC News’ T.J. Holmes also addressed the timing of Brady’s update that upset some sports fans who thought the news took the spotlight from the student athletes playing in March Madness.
“The free agency opens at noon today and there is a suggestion that he was trying to get the news out there so the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be in a better position to maybe resign some of the guys,” Holmes explained. “Now it makes Tampa Bay more attractive. That might have something to do with it.”
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