Skip Bayless thinks so.
Brady took to social media two days after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ divisional-round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams to express gratitude for an “incredibly rewarding” season. The 44-year-old didn’t reveal much about his future, but one aspect of Brady’s post stood out to Bayless.
“All he did, this was his final message on Instagram to his team,” Bayless said on Wednesday’s episode of “Undisputed” on FS1. “And again, what is horrifying to me is it’s all past tense, and it’s all about gratitude, it’s all about thank you, I love you all, thank you for living and dying with me this year, because, as he said, we went out fighting. Past tense, past tense, past tense. He’s never been about past tense.”
Then again, there was ample speculation leading up to Sunday’s loss that Brady could walk away. And Bayless heard from a source Monday the Bucs basically are mentally preparing for Brady’s departure.
“I told you (Tuesday) to start the show, a high-ranking Tampa Bay source told me that they were horrified because they wanted to hear after the game, ‘Let’s go,’ ” Bayless said Wednesday. “Because after the Super Bowl win, it was, ‘Hell yeah, I’m coming back.’ Like he was offended by the question. He was not offended by the question (Sunday); he ducked it and dodged it and said, ‘I need some time.’ And my source told me, ‘We will be surprised,’ and then he amended to ‘No, we will be shocked … if he comes back and plays.’ And he’s talking about football, period.”
It’s been a remarkable run for Brady, the greatest quarterback in NFL history. He led the New England Patriots to six Super Bowl titles across two decades, before then guiding the Buccaneers to a championship last season in his first year with the franchise.
All good things must come to an end, obviously. Brady can’t play forever, even though he still performed at an MVP-caliber level throughout the 2021 season. But it’s hard to imagine the NFL without Brady, as he’s long been the face of the league, continuously thriving even as the sport itself has evolved.
“It’s starting to feel like — which is unfathomable to me, as a Brady believer — that he came in quietly as a sixth-round draft choice, and it feels like he’s going to exit quietly,” Bayless said. “It just feels like he’s suddenly just gone. And I can’t wrap my mind around him being gone, because I’m gonna miss him, I think the game is gonna miss him, I think you (Shannon Sharpe) will miss him — just because he’s the GOAT and he’s still playing at the highest of levels. And I can’t make peace with the fact that he would leave it like that.”
Twenty-two years. Countless memories.