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It’s been a wild offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but no story was bigger than the retirement and subsequent comeback of legendary quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady announced his retirement in February, but then returned just 41 days later, and now continues to prepare for his 23rd NFL season.
The GOAT recently sat down with Variety for a wide-ranging interview that covered topics both on and off the field, from his decision to retire (and then return), to his many business ventures, as well as his upcoming performance on the big screen with some Hollywood legends.
Here’s some of what Brady had to say about his past, present and future:
On if he knows 2022 will be his last season
“I really don’t. I would say it’s year to year: Could this be my last year? Absolutely. Could I change my mind? Absolutely. I’ve realized I don’t have five years left. I want to do it my way. I want to give it everything I got and see where I’m at. My body feels really good. I’ve had a lot of traumatic injuries over the years, but if things go really smoothly and we win, that’d be great.”
On if he came back to win one more Super Bowl
“I think that would obviously be the greatest way to end. I just have a competitive fire that got the best of me.”
On why he decided to retire in February
“I made the decision in the moment, and I felt it was the right thing for the team to let the Bucs know. You need time to plan. And then through conversations with Bruce [Arians, the team’s former coach], Jason [Licht, general manager] and my wife, I felt like I could still play and compete.”
“And it’s not that I’m any less committed once I say that it’s a yes, but I’ve got a 14-year-old son who lives in New York City — he wants time. My wife, she’s been incredibly supportive of my career over a long period of time. So I had to talk with her, you know what I mean? Those decisions get made with me as a family. And I have two younger kids, one 12 and one 9 — everyone’s got challenging lives.”
“I know, I know (a 40-day retirement is rare). I would have preferred to un-retire in July if I wanted to play. But I couldn’t. If I said I’m not playing, they’d make plans. So I felt there was a lot of pressure to make a decision quickly. And then ultimately, I just decided, “Yes, let’s do it.” And once I said that, it was like — OK, here we go.”
On how he started building businesses outside of football
“Most guys’ careers end before the age of 30, and I’ve been really lucky that I’ve had this career that I’ve loved to do for two-plus decades. Cultivating experiences that are outside my main thing, which is my sport, has always been something that I’ve been preparing for. I’ve been planning for not playing football, and football’s just continued to go. So I know that I’m at the very, very end of my career. It’s not like I have 10 years left. When I’m done, I’ll be able to transition to things that are already up and running.”
On his relationship with Bill Belichick and the Patriots
“We’ve had a great relationship. I mean, there’s ebbs and flows. We had great success and we did amazing things as a team. I had 20 incredible years in New England. I learned a lot, grew up — it toughened me up. You’re never going to hear me say anything negative about my experience there.”
On how his broadcasting deal with Fox came about
“They approached me after the season. And there’s a lot of history that I have with Fox. I spoke with their executives, and I really had to evaluate if that’s what I wanted to commit to. I have a very unique perspective on football and how it should be played, and what good plays look like and what bad plays look like. I feel like I can still have a great impact on the game. I could stay in the game, doing what I love to do, talking about this incredible sport.”
“Initially, I told them I didn’t want to do it. There was a lot of different emotions. I couldn’t make the decision from the place where I needed to be. For the first time, I was a free agent in life. It’s different than being a free agent in football when one of 31 teams can come after you. I had lots of different people say, “You’re free now; we’d love to have you involved in” — different parts of football, broadcasting, business and finance.”
On what kind of football broadcaster he'll be
“I’m there to support. I’m there to inform. I have a great knowledge of the game. And I also have very high expectations of what players and coaches should do in the field. I’ll have no problem being critical of things that I disagree with, and I’ll have no problem praising things that are exceptional.”