Seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady doesn’t have to look too far when deciding on the time to hang up his football cleats for good.
Brady maintained for a while that he will play until age 45 and has two years left on his contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also shied away from playing until age 50 when asked about it this offseason.
“Things change as you get older and there’s a lot of different responsibilities I have in my life,” Brady, 43, told Jim Gray on SiriusXM Town Hall on July 22.
“My kids and my family is certainly very important and they made a lot of sacrifice over a long period of time to watch me play. So, you know, I owe it to them, too,” Brady added.
Brady has a wife, Gisele Bundchen, and three children — Benjamin, Vivian, and Jack. Bundchen had been vocal about Brady retiring in 2017. Brady shared that Bundchen asked him “three times” to retire in a 2017 Sirius XM interview via Sports Illustrated.
Bundchen hinted at the subject again this year when she asked Brady “what more do you have to prove” immediately after the Bucs’ Super Bowl LV win.
“I play because I love the game. I play because I love to compete,” Brady told Gray. “We shouldn’t stop our life, even though we love something because it’s just, someone puts an arbitrary timeline on that.”
Brady again reiterated his thoughts on playing until age 45. That would take him through the 2022 season.
“I felt for a long time, I could play until I was 45 years old. I think I committed to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to play till I’m 45.’ And this year I’ll be 44, which naturally takes me to the next year,” Brady said.
“I’ve got a two-year contract. We’ll see what happens beyond that,” Brady added.
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Will Brady Be Better in 2021?
Brady had to adjust to a new team, coaching staff, receivers, and playbook last year. Continuity works in his favor this year as the Bucs return all 22 starters from the 2020 Super Bowl-winning team.
That doesn’t mean Brady can play like it’s 2007 when he led the New England Patriots to a 16-0 regular season with 50 touchdown passes. He doesn’t expect to, either.
“You’re past your physical prime,” Brady told Gray. “I’ve sustained it for a long period of time.”
Brady threw for at least 4,000 yards every season since turning 40 in 2017. He also threw 29 or more touchdowns each of those four seasons except in 2019 when he managed 24 with a depleted receiver group in New England.
“There wouldn’t be a reason to improve let’s say my arm strength or the distance I can throw a ball or the speed I can run physically,” Brady told Gray. “It is what it is. It’s just that I’ve actually maintained that for a long period of time through a lot of, you know, unique thoughts and my workout, my recovery, my training. You know, mentally, I know how to prepare.”
“It’s really maintaining a championship level of play,” Brady added. “It’s not about how much better I can be at 44 than I was at 38.”
Brady Had ‘Serious’ Knee Surgery in the Offseason
Brady’s career reached a second decade in part due to his health, but he knows well that won’t last forever.
Brady revealed he played with a nagging knee issue during the 2020 season and hard surgery on it after the season. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians originally called it “a cleanup” though it took four months of recovery.
Brady began throwing with Bucs receivers in May in lieu of organized team activities. He said the knee has been feeling good since the surgery.
He took another step at training camp this week, removing the knee sleeve on his left knee, which he’s worn since 2008 when he tore his ACL.