The biggest question facing Tom Brady this offseason was answered Wednesday morning: The greatest quarterback in NFL history will not continue playing in 2023. He has officially retired, this time for good.
The question now becomes: What kind of pomp and circumstance, if any, awaits Brady in the coming days and weeks?
Patriots fans surely will wonder whether Brady intends to sign a one-day contract with New England and retire as a member of the franchise for whom he played 20 seasons. The controversy surrounding last year’s bogus retirement statement, in which Brady omitted any mention of the Patriots, might indicate a hesitance to sign on for such a ceremony, but it probably is best not to read too much into it.
Brady clearly had no real intentions of retiring last year, and as such, we can’t really glean anything from his words and actions in the month that followed.
However, it’s worth revisiting the comments Brady made when directly asked about the topic following an Oct. 2021 game between the Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Hours before the game, New England owner Robert Kraft made his feelings on the matter perfectly clear.
” … Life has its twist and turns,” Kraft said. “And, look, I’m always rooting for Tommy except when he’s playing us. In the end, I hope and believe he’ll come back here, we’ll give him his red jacket, just like we gave you, and he’ll retire a Patriot.”
During his postgame news conference, Brady was asked about Kraft’s comments and whether he’d consider signing a one-day contract with the Patriots.
“(Kraft) didn’t offer me that,” a laughing Brady said. ” … I still got some time left with the Bucs, and like I said, really enjoying that. We got a lot to accomplish this year.”
Asked the question one additional time, Brady said “I’m not sure” while walking away from the podium.
These comments delivered early in the news conference also are worth pointing out:
“It’s been a great stadium for me for a long time,” Brady said of Gillette Stadium. “I don’t know what the future holds. Obviously could be an opportunity to come back here. We’ll see. I feel like I’ll always be a part of this community. I’ll be up here quite a bit when it’s all said and done. When I retire I’m sure there will be a lot of time for — you know, I have a lot of friends up here and it’s a great place.
“My kids were born on Beacon Street in the city. It’s been an amazing place for me; it still is. I obviously see a lot of familiar friendly faces, and great to see you guys, too.”
It’s unclear whether Brady’s remark about an “opportunity to come back” was about retiring as a Patriot or potentially facing New England in a future game. Obviously, he would’ve visited Foxboro again had he decided to sign with the New York Jets or Miami Dolphins this offseason.
As for actual reporting on the topic, there’s not much to go on — but there’s one soundbite from a year ago that’s worth highlighting.
“I think that’s strong,” ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, who covers Brady as closely as anyone, said during a WEEI interview when asked about the chances of Brady retiring with the Patriots. “I don’t know exactly how it would work out, if Tom would sign a one-day contract and officially retire with the Patriots, or figure out a way to do it, you know, after the press conference or whatever it is he ends up doing.”
So, now we wait.
Brady, of course, is a shoo-in for the Patriots Hall of Fame. But whether he’s honored at One Patriot Place before his Hall of Fame induction arrives remains to be seen.