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Among all the blockbuster trades and free agent contracts during this year’s NFL offseason, one event, the return of Tom Brady, is still being talked about. Brady, who once said he wanted to play pro football until he was 45 years old, ended his weeks-long winter retirement by informing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers he would play his 23rd season with them at age 45 this upcoming fall. Looking and how everything reportedly played out for Tom Brady, it is only a mild surprise that he retired, and then un-retired so quickly. 

Based upon what we read at the end of the 2021 NFL Playoffs, it sounded like Tom Brady made a promise to his wife at the start of last season to make it his last in professional football. With that mindset, Brady posted one of the best seasons of his 22-year career with the Buccaneers and was poised to go on a Super Bowl run before being upended by the eventual champions, the Los Angeles Rams. Now, days later someone leaked to ESPN that Brady had already told the Bucs his time in the NFL was over and he would retire; something both he and his agent first denied before Tom Brady eventually confirmed by walking away from the game. Until, of course, he figured out that he could still play, which is when Brady un-retired.

The mistake Tom Brady made was simple: You can’t promise anyone else that you are going to give up your career in advance, especially a career that you began as a child.

Brady’s wife, Gisele Bündchen, has made it clear for years she is worried about her husband suffering an injury that will impact the quality of his life after he leaves the NFL. So, for me, it is very easy to understand if Brady calmed down his home life by telling Gisele last summer that 2021 would be his last season. However, after posting one of his best years ever and knowing how close he was to winning his eighth Super Bowl title, it was Tom Brady who was nagging his wife during the month of February before she agreed to let him out of his promise and un-retire to the game he loves as much as her.

Retirement for an athlete is a lot more difficult than most people realize. Unlike most 9-5 jobs that can be done into a person’s 60’s or 70’s, the window that athletes have to perform well enough to earn a job is limited, with Tom Brady already breaking that window by playing more than half his life in the NFL.

The lesson here is that athletes can’t promise they will retire for anyone other than themselves, and even that promise can be broken. But expecting a family member to retire from their sport because of an offseason promise they were talked into making is unfair to the athlete, and never something they should be expected to keep. Athletes are not actors who can work late into their life, with most not reaching 40 before being told they are no longer good enough. Athletes need to play every game they can before walking away for their own piece of mind and to not resent the fact they walked away too early rather than a little bit too late.

I am glad Tom Brady followed his heart and decided to un-retire, because football is something he has had in his life longer than almost anything else, and only he should decide when the time is right, not anyone else, including his wife. 

 


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Why Tom Brady Made The Right Decision To Un-Retire | TooAthletic.com

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