This story sounds a little too familiar.
Exactly one year ago – literally to the day – Tom Brady officially announced his retirement from the NFL after 23 seasons in the league. It came days after ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news, which kicked off a weekend of speculation revolving around Brady’s immediate NFL future before Brady eventually told the world his plans to walk away from football.
We all know what came next: Brady unretired 40 days later, suited up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played the entire 2022 season until he and the Buccaneers lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC wild-card round.
And now, 365 days after that first retirement, here we go again. Brady announced with a social media video he is retiring “for good” after 23 seasons and seven Super Bowl titles. He put to bed any questions about his desire to continue playing in a poignant video where Brady joked about how “you only get one super-emotional retirement essay and I used mine up last year.”
But one can’t help but compare Brady’s retirement this year to the one that happened last year. There are striking differences between the circumstances surrounding each announcement — both in how they were conveyed to the public and where Brady is in his life.
Brady’s botched 2022 announcement
This was, by all accounts, a giant mess.
Schefter broke the news on Saturday, Jan. 29 at 2:29 p.m. ET and, after the initial wave of praise and admiration from the collective NFL and sports world, was met with skepticism by those close to the quarterback.
Brady reportedly called the Buccaneers after Schefter’s tweet to tell them he hadn’t made a decision yet. Brady’s father, Tom Brady Sr., told KRON4 News in San Francisco that his son wasn’t retiring. Brady’s agent, Don Yee, said in a statement that “Tom will be the only person to express his plans with complete accuracy. And two days later, on Feb. 1, Brady said on his podcast he was “still going through the process” and would take everything “literally day-to-day.”
Ultimately, though, Brady did retire – initially – three days after Schefter’s tweet. He did so with a long, eight-slide Instagram post where he thanked everyone from his teammates and coaches to his then-wife, Gisele Bündchen and his parents. It seemingly ended the 72-hour saga that left the Buccaneers in limbo at their most important position.
Until he unretired 40 days later.
A cleaner, quieter retirement in 2023
Juxtapose the fanfare of the 2022 announcement with this year’s and maybe it’s a bit more believable.
For one, Brady posted a video at 8:12 a.m. ET, sitting on a beach in front of some tall buildings wearing a grey shirt. Simple, plain and to the point — quite different from what happened a year ago. And certainly different than many of Brady’s other social media videos.
He didn’t wax poetically about his career or his family. Brady succinctly stated his appreciation to those that followed him on his journey.
“I really thank you guys, so much, to every single one of you for supporting me. My family, my friends, my teammates, my competitors — I could go on forever. There’s too many,” Brady said. “Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream. I wouldn’t change a thing. Love you all.”
The reactions were, of course, skeptical. Why wouldn’t they be after what everyone went through in 2022?
But the personal touch of a selfie video perhaps highlighted what Brady missed out on last year. Brady reportedly told the Buccaneers his decision to retire two hours before he posted the video, according to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington. The message Brady tweeted was also pre-recorded, according to NFL Network’s Peter Schrager.
So the plan went off without a hitch this time around. And now Brady heads toward new waters — and a big paycheck. Brady signed a 10-year, $375 million deal this past May to join Fox Sports as the network’s lead NFL analyst when he officially retired from football. Brady reportedly won’t be in the booth for the Super Bowl — which airs on Fox this year — but his television journey could start at any moment.
Brady’s NFL journey is over, but another one is just beginning.