Rob Ninkovich might want to give Tom Brady some space.
Ninkovich, who played alongside Brady with the Patriots from 2009 to 2016, now works as an analyst for ESPN. And when asked Friday on “Keyshawn, JWill and Max” about whether the quarterback will return for a 24th NFL season, the former New England linebacker revealed a snarky text message he received from Brady after reaching out in wake of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
“I’ve been trying to investigate that. … I’ve been trying to get some info out of that and I’m not getting anywhere with it,” Ninkovich said. “And then I tried to be nice and just, you know, hit up a friend and be like, ‘Hey man, great season. I hope you’re recovering. You finished well, you still got it.’ And he responds: ‘Not according to your hard-hitting analysis.’ “
We imagine Brady was just giving his buddy a hard time, as Ninkovich chuckled while recounting his failed investigative reporting. But it nevertheless speaks to the difficulties that come with becoming an analyst upon retiring, something Brady will learn soon enough when he joins the FOX broadcast booth.
“I was trying to be nice,” Ninkovich said. ” … Now I’m trying to think back, like what did I say bad?”
It’s unclear at this point whether Brady will retire, return to Tampa Bay — where he has spent the last three seasons after 20 years in New England — or change uniforms in 2023. But it’s probably safe to say Ninkovich won’t break the news when Brady makes his decision.