- Tom Brady Sr. blamed the media, specifically ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington, for his son’s retirement
- ESPN announced Brady’s impending retirement three days before the seven-time Super Bowl champion made an announcement
- The elder Brady might be onto something, although it doesn’t excuse Brady’s behavior during his 40 days out of football
On the eve of the NFL’s conference championship weekend, ESPN reporters Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington shocked the sports world by announcing Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady intended to retire. At long last, opposing defenses would be free of needing to plan against the seemingly-immortal 44-year-old gunslinger.
As we now know, that’s not how things quite worked out.
Although Brady did confirm his retirement three days later, he didn’t even last six whole weeks before announcing he had “unfinished business” and would return to the Buccaneers for the 2022 season.
Considering how short his time away from football was, some football fans have openly speculated if ESPN’s announcement forced Brady into retirement. Count his father, Tom Sr., among those believing in such a theory.
Common sense would dictate that Brady, given all of his accomplishments and his platform, would have been the one to reveal his plans and whether or not he planned on retiring.
The sports media world does not operate that way, especially in the social media era.
Darlington and Schefter broke the Brady news on Saturday, Jan. 28, and defended their reporting even as the quarterback’s camp pushed back and insisted he hadn’t yet made a final decision. Nearly two months later, Brady Sr. appeared on the March 15 episode of Mike Greenberg’s Greeny podcast and blamed the media, specifically ESPN, for rushing his son into a choice.
“They were announcing his retirement before he even retired. You know, the media made the news. He was not ready to make any decision and didn’t make any decision, but [Adam] Schefter and [Jeff] Darlington stated it as fact. You know, he hadn’t made any decision on that.”
Tom Brady Sr.
Brady Sr., who turns 78 in May, made similar comments when he spoke with WHDH’s Dan Hausle.
“I think people kind of put him into a corner and all these rumors and things before he was ready to make a decision, and he had to say something just to get the news people off his back,” the elder Brady said.
The question then becomes why the younger Brady potentially allowed the media to decide his fate
Although some football fans or staunch ESPN defenders might not be inclined to hear Brady Sr.’s thoughts, let’s at least hear him out. He truly believes ESPN’s rush to break the story forced his son into making a decision, one the quarterback went back on after taking time to reflect.
Brady Sr. might be onto something here. However, the problem is the legendary quarterback never made a forthright attempt at clearing things up and requesting — or even demanding — more time to make a genuine choice about his future.
Remember, rumors surrounding Brady’s retirement began before he played in the NFC Divisional Round on Sunday, Jan. 22. Those rumors lingered for parts of six days before Darlington and Schefter took to Twitter with the news, via sources, of the quarterback’s plan to retire.
Theoretically, Brady could have easily issued a statement saying he hadn’t made a decision yet. Unless the Buccaneers privately imposed a deadline, and there has been no indication yet that the franchise did anything along those lines, he could have taken his time and announced his future on, say, Feb. 25 or March 2, and he would have been fine.
For the sake of conversation, let’s say Brady announced on Tuesday, Feb. 1, that he hadn’t made any final decision on his future and planned to do so after the Super Bowl. He didn’t owe Darlington or Schefter anything, and he would have had every right to issue his own statement.
Brady is a 44-year-old man who survived 20 seasons of Bill Belichick. There would be a significant problem if he allowed two prominent NFL reporters to unintentionally force him into rushing and making a move he clearly didn’t believe was right for him.
Going forward, Brady needs to commit to whatever decision he makes, especially at his age
Barring an injury or another retirement, Brady will officially become the oldest starting quarterback in NFL history next season. He turns 45 in August and the oldest starting quarterback, Steve DeBerg, was 44 years old in 1998. Simple enough.
Brady cannot, and should not, let retirement become a yearly “will he or won’t he?” the way Brett Favre did. It would be far better for him to take his time and reflect rather than rush into retirement again and change his mind several weeks later.
The media likely isn’t going to respect Brady’s potential desire for patience, especially if he needs until March or even April 2023 to make the next decision on his future. But at this stage in his life, he shouldn’t need to wait for the media, whether it’s ESPN or an independent site, before announcing his plans.
The reality of the situation is that Brady will play the entire 2022 season at 45, the entire 2023 campaign at 46, and so forth. The next time he retires, he should only do so if he’s taken the proper amount of time, however much that may be, to think about things and decide what is best for him and his family.
If only things were that easy in the NFL, especially when the greatest quarterback of all time is involved.