Back in December of 2016, ESPN’s Jon Gruden revealed that Tom Brady told both him and play-by-play guy Sean McDonough of his desire to play until he is 45. The immediate reaction from fans was obviously very skeptical and something that many believed was cute exaggeration. Brady then backed his comments on WEEI’s “Kirk and Callahan,” stating, “I think I can do it.” This changed individual’s stances and backed the legitimacy of the ESPN Report and sent a ripple throughout the NFL.
But, are Brady’s comments legitimate? As a loyal Pats fan…I hope and pray that they are. The problem with Brady is that he is saying one thing, but his actions are hinting at something else. Both Brady as well as the Patriots organization have made steps that seem to look at life after Brady playing football. Before most New Englanders go into a frenzy, let’s look at the scenario.
TB12 Sports and Under Armor
The only thing that is arguably as important to Brady as his football career and his family is his brand and reputation. In the past year and recent months, Brady has strongly become an ambassador for sports, mainly football, through his TB12 Brand and his partnership with Under Armor. His releasing of cookbooks, snacks, apparel, and now a book (coming in September) displays a side of Brady that we have not seen up to this point. Furthermore, his trip to Asia to promote sleepwear shows something about Brady that is bigger than football. By no means is Tom putting his off field desires in front of football, rather it can be inferred that Brady’s recent actions look as ways to tee him up for life after football. And unfortunately, with his surge in promotion over the past year, “life after football” maybe isn’t that far away.
Yes, we have all heard the cliche expression: a happy wife makes a happy life. The problem is, I believe it to be true, and I bet Tom does too. It is no secret that Brady’s Wife, Gisele Bundchen, has expressed her wanting of Tom to call it a career. In fact, she reportedly told Tom this following his recent Super Bowl victory. I understand that Brady told Gisele, “too bad, babe” directly following the game (in regards to retiring) but I believe that’s just because he was riding the mental high of his fifth Super Bowl.
Gisele’s impact was further felt in mid May when she disclosed that Tom suffered a concussion last year, adding greater concern and hope for her husband to take the helmet off once and for all. Although Tom has been persistent in telling Gisele he wants to play until he is 45, her impact in his life cannot be questioned when he said, “She makes decisions for our family that I’ve got to deal with, hopefully she never says, ‘look, this has to be it.” Tom realizes the importance of his wife and kids, and at some point he knows it will be family over football, as what he does for them is exponentially greater than the five Super Bowl Victories that he has pioneered for New England.
The Jimmy Garoppolo Effect
Is he staying? Is he going? Who’s going to get him? All of these questions were swirling prior to the NFL Draft in April. The fact is, Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be a New England Patriot this year. In the final year of his rookie deal, Jimmy G is primed to do what he’s been doing the past three seasons… sit and wait. Although Jimmy is almost a sure bet to see little to no time this year (pending Brady’s health), next year could be a different story. The Patriots know something… They always know something… Jimmy Garoppolo would not be on the team right now if they didn’t know something…
In not trading Jimmy G, the Pats risk losing him to free agency after this year, essentially getting nothing in return. If they don’t lose him to the open market, Belichick would be forced to either sign or franchise tag the 25 year old QB. Both signing or tagging Garappolo would come at high cost, a cost too large for a backup QB. With a track record second to none, Coach Belichick is too crafty to lose a player for nothing or overpay for one to sit on the bench. So why would he keep Jimmy around? Could it be that Brady has had internal talks with management that he is changing views on how long he wants to play? Whatever it is… Jimmy Garoppolo is still here, and is here for a reason…
Would it be surprising if Tom Brady plays into his mid 40’s? No, not with the way he is playing like right now. But it also would not be a surprise if at the end of this year he calls it a career. Brady is not one of those guys who doesn’t know what to do after football. He is a revolutionary player, but more importantly a revolutionary person who will look to have an impact far beyond the sport. To fans I say: watch, cherish, and enjoy the number 12 while he still plays.
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