By Jake Force
Boston University News Service
It comes as absolutely no surprise whatsoever that Tom Brady, one of the greatest quarterbacks to play in the NFL, announced his comeback to football via Instagram Sunday afternoon. Brady, only 39 full days into retirement, said that his place is “still on the field and not in the stands.”
But was he ever really retired in the first place?
Let’s break down some of the most important clues we received over the last 41 days that led us to believe Brady wasn’t by any means done with football.
First, news of his retirement was broken by Adam Schefter in late January. A few days later, Brady said he wasn’t sure. A few days after that, he made the “earth-shattering” retirement announcement. That announcement, of course, made no mention of the Patriots, sending New England into a collective tailspin.
Oh, and that announcement also never used the word “retire.”
Then, after being retired for merely five weeks, Tom Brady told Jim Gray on his “Let’s Go!” podcast that he has been spending time with his family “for the last five weeks.”
Tom, do you seriously know exactly how much time it’s been? You’ve been paying that much attention to it? No one keeps track of time like that when they’re actually enjoying something. Then, Gray asked him the comeback question straight up, and part of Brady’s answer included the phrase “never say never.”
Let’s be real, the guy never actually retired.
This weekend we saw a video of Brady on the field after the Manchester United game congratulating his friend and fellow icon, Cristiano Ronaldo, on a three-goal performance in the United victory. Many suggested that Brady saw what Ronaldo is still doing at his age (37, which is old for soccer players) and was inspired to keep pursuing greatness.
While I don’t disagree with that sentiment, I would ask if you’ve bothered to look up who owns Manchester United. Yes, the Glazer family, who you wouldn’t know, also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Coincidence? Absolutely not.
Bottom line, Brady was in England for the final negotiations of his comeback. You can even audibly hear Ronaldo ask Brady “You’re finished right?” To which Brady responded with a long deep breath and leaned back with a smirk that told you everything you needed to know.
Later that day, Brady announced he’ll be coming back.
An interesting side note of this whole situation is just how much leverage Brady has over the sports media landscape. Kevin Garnett got his number retired yesterday (a great moment, by the way), Major League Baseball ended its lockout and has free agency in full swing, and LeBron James just became the only NBA player to ever record 10,000 points, rebounds, and assists in a career.
Yesterday, after Brady announced his comeback, none of those stories mattered anymore. As 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Jim Murray tweeted last night, “Brady just usurped KG” … and he really did.
The only remaining question is if Brady’s return will be with the Buccaneers, given the connection between the comeback and trade rumors. Although he used the words “in Tampa” in his note yesterday, there still are scenarios for Brady to end up with the San Francisco 49ers or maybe — and I know all you Patriots fans would absolutely love this — the Miami Dolphins.
Regardless, even with Brady fiending for attention, this is going to get interesting.