Let’s begin with lyrics from a popular 1950s song.
“Now you want to play
And then it’s no,
And when you say you’ll stay,
That’s when you go.
You’re undecided now
So what are you gonna do?’’
That appears to be the situation with Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady, who is thinking things over at the moment. At 44, Brady is considering ending his Hall of Fame career. Or maybe not. He is, as the lyrics to the song indicate, undecided.
Championship weekend in the NFL was jolted by the ESPN report that Brady was finished with football. The network cited several unnamed sources who confirmed the decision.
But, as the Lone Ranger’s faithful Indian companion liked to say, “Not so fast, kemosabe.’’
Brady’s agent would not confirm or deny the report. Brady’s father went a step further, saying it was not true. For his part, Brady was mum about the matter. The message was stay tuned, as he reiterated on his Sirius XM podcast, “Let’s Go,” Monday night.
Now all of this would not matter much, except that Brady has been a special player in the NFL for 22 seasons. He has played in 10 Super Bowls, won seven of them and been chosen the game’s most valuable player three times. He is the NFL’s all-time leader in quarterback wins with 243, the all-time leader in passing yards with 84,520 and touchdown passes with 624.
If this was his last season, he made it memorable, leading the NFL with 43 touchdown passes and in passing yardage with 5,316.
That’s some way to say good-bye, except that Brady is taking his own sweet time doing that. And he has earned the right to do that, to make this announcement when he’s ready to make it.
Don’t worry. He is a smart cookie. He knows enough to give the Buccaneers a heads up, to let them know in enough time to formulate their draft plans.
What we know is that Brady has evolved from an anonymous sixth-round draft pick, the 199th player selected, to the defining player of his era. He benefited from arriving at a time when the NFL was changing into a pass-oriented league and turned the New England Patriots into a football dynasty.
And then, just to prove how good he really was, he moved to Tampa Bay and guided that team to their second and his seventh Super Bowl championship.
The man deserves to go out on his own terms. And if he’s undecided right now, he earned the that right.