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Just when everybody in the NFL world thought they were going to have a relaxing Saturday in the lead-up to the Conference Championship games, there was the report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington that Tom Brady had decided to retire after 22 seasons.
The report, claiming that sources close to Brady had spilled the beans, was immediately and forcefully refuted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady’s agent Don Yee, and even Brady’s father, Tom Brady Sr.
That doesn’t mean that Schefter and Darlington were wrong, per se — just that they may have gotten ahead of themselves with the news.
On Monday, during an appearance on Mad Dog Radio, Brady tried to provide some clarity on the situation.
“I’m just still going through the process that I said I was going through,” Brady told co-host Jim Gray, per the Boston Globe. “Sometimes it takes some time to really evaluate how you feel and what you want to do. I think when the time’s right, I’ll be ready to make a decision one way or the other.”
Brady wasn’t surprised by the reports, he said.
“There’s a good line — I’m responsible for what I say and do and not responsible for what others say or do,” he said. “We’re in such an era of information and people want to be in front of the news often. I totally understand that. I understand that’s the environment we’re in.
“I’m just trying to do the best I can every day and evaluate things as they come and make a great decision for me and my family. I’ll know when the time is right. I’m very blessed to have played as long as I have.
“As things have gone on in the later parts of my career, whether that was five years ago or even this year, there’s a lot of interest in when I’m going to stop playing. I understand that. It’s not that I don’t recognize that. It’s just — when I know, I’ll know. When I don’t know, I don’t know.”
So, at this point, it appears that he doesn’t know.
“I think my motivation for playing football is to win and be successful,” Brady concluded. “Maybe there’s little parts of motivation that come from different places or what people may say or think, but I’m mostly motivated from inside and wanting to be the best for my teammates, my coaches, and my organization. That’s kind of been where motivation’s been for a long time.
“At different times, you use different techniques and tools to put yourself in the right frame of mind, but for me, it’s always about being the best I can be.”
Brady had quite a remarkable season at age 44 — including the postseason, he completed 544 of 810 passes for 5,916 yards, 46 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a passer rating of 100.7. It’s clear that he could play at a high level for at least one more season, but as Brady said, the decision is yet to be made.