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On Saturday afternoon the news broke that superstar quarterback Tom Brady will retire from his illustrious NFL career after 22 years and an astounding 7 Super Bowl wins, the last with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, his second team with which he won the title at the age of 43, but ESPN may have jumped the gun in the rush to be first.
There has been much buzz that the G.O.A.T. would hang up his cleats, especially in the aftermath of the Bucs’ brutal 30-27 loss in last Sunday’s NFC Divisional Playoffs to the Los Angeles Rams, a game in which Brady led his injury depleted squad to a valiant comeback from a 24 point 3rd quarter deficit only to be denied a shot at overtime when the defense collapsed in the waning seconds.
ESPN ace Adam Schefter, who cited “multiple sources,” took to Twitter to make the announcement and to tease the outlet’s upcoming reportage of Brady’s apparent bending of the knee to Father Time.
Tom Brady is retiring from football after 22 extraordinary seasons, multiple sources tell @JeffDarlington and me.
More coming on https://t.co/rDZaVFhcDQ. pic.twitter.com/6CHWmMlyXg
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 29, 2022
The massive story was quickly picked up by other major media outlets including the Associated Press which was also in a hurry to report the news although editors likely soon regretted not running it by their “fact checkers” first.
Tom Brady wraps up an unprecedented NFL career. His TB12sports Twitter account wrote: “7 Super Bowl Rings. 5 Super Bowl MVPs. 3 League MVP Awards. 22 Incredible Seasons." Still at the top of his game, he had cited a desire to spend more time with family. https://t.co/PplQcwpIZt
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 29, 2022
However, ESPN’s premature bombshell was soon defused when Brady’s agent Don Yee issued a statement saying that, “I understand the advance speculation about Tom’s future. Without getting into the accuracy or inaccuracy of what’s being reported, Tom will be the only person to express his plans with complete accuracy,” Yee said. “He knows the realities of the football business and planning calendar as well as anybody, so that should be soon.”
Also rebutting Schefter was the future Hall Of Famer’s dad, Tom Brady Sr. who told San Francisco television station KRON-4 that the reports were untrue, he also denied the ESPN report to the NFL Network’s Mike Giardi who tweeted Brady senior’s remarks that “This story, Mike, is total conjecture. Tommy has not made a final decision one way or the other and anybody else that says that he has is absolutely wrong.”
Checked in with Tom Brady Sr. who tells me, and I quote, "This story Mike is total conjecture. Tommy has not made a final decision one way or the other and anybody else that says that he has is absolutely wrong." #TomBrady #Buccaneers
— Mike Giardi (@MikeGiardi) January 29, 2022
AP was also forced to update its reporting with what was effectively a correction after Brady told Bucs General Manager Jason Licht that he had yet to make a final decision on the matter.
BREAKING: AP sources: Tom Brady tells Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM he hasn't decided on retirement, despite ESPN report. https://t.co/EYjt7ePYR2
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 29, 2022
“Despite reports that he is retiring, Brady has told the Tampa Bay Buccaneers he hasn’t made up his mind, two people familiar with the details told The Associated Press,” AP updated readers, “It’s unknown when he’ll make an announcement, leaving his team guessing and fans hoping for one more run that seems unlikely considering his age and family situation.”
The ESPN report set off a wave of farewells from his teammates from both the Buccaneers and the New England Patriots where he spent the majority of his career including Bucs WR Mike Evans who was on the receiving and of what may have been his final touchdown pass, a 55-yard-bomb against the Rams that cut the deficit to seven.
Julian Edelman, who was one of Brady’s top targets with the Pats also took to Twitter with a sendoff which he then walked back.
Can’t a guy thank another guy for the memories without everyone thinking he’s retiring!?
— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) January 29, 2022
While confusion over whether or not TB12 has taken his last NFL snap reigns with no immediate answers, the plot has thickened with a report that Brady is only days away from collecting millions of dollars if he doesn’t retire.
According to the website Spotrac which reports on sports contracts, Brady has 15 million reasons to not announce his retirement yet, citing terms of a signing bonus.
FWIW: $15M of Tom Brady’s $20M signing bonus from last March is set to be paid out February 4th, 2022. Seems like something a guy or gal would want to have process before making any life changing career decisions official.
— Spotrac (@spotrac) January 29, 2022
Brady, who has said that his family will have the ultimate say in whether he takes the field again in 2022 may never have another shot as good as this year to win an eighth Super Bowl title with the Bucs facing serious salary cap issues that could lead to the dismantling of the NFC powerhouse that were it not for untimely injuries to key offensive linemen and receivers and Antonio Brown’s ugly temper tantrum when he quit on the team last month, would have had a serious shot at the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
If he chooses to hang it up, Brady will go out as the NFL’s all time passing leader in multiple categories and personally owns more Super Bowl rings than any single franchise.
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