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Did the Bucs’ Tom Brady play his last NFL game? What 5 national media outlets have to say

two football players celebrate - one smiles and pats the other on his helmet
Mark LoMoglio
/
AP
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, right, celebrates with wide receiver Mike Evans after Evans caught a touchdown pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of the Bucs ' 31-15 win in an NFL wild-card game on Jan. 16, 2022.

The Bucs' 30-27 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC divisional playoffs fueled speculation that this may have been Tom Brady's final season.

It became the predominant backdrop to Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game, perhaps even more than the Bucs advancing to the NFC championship game and defending their Super Bowl title.

Speculation had been building that 44-year-old Tom Brady could announce an end to his record-setting NFL career after 22 years and seven Super Bowl championships.

That chatter became even louder after the Bucs lost 30-27 to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium — a game in which Brady led the Bucs from a 27-3 deficit, only to lose on a Matt Gay 30-yard field goal as time expired.

While Brady was non-committal about his future after the game, saying "we'll just take it day by day and see where we're at," the talk quickly turned from the game's outcome to Brady's future.

Here are excerpts of stories from what five national media outlets are saying about a potential Brady retirement:

We’ll Believe His Retirement When We See It, But That Would Be a Fitting Final Game for Tom Brady [Sports Illustrated]

While it would not be the tidy narrative of Peyton Manning limp-arming the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory, it would be something almost more admirable: the best player of all time, still at his best, rifling footballs at a greater velocity and accuracy than the class of new-age passers who we celebrate so much more frequently these days. It would mean going out undeniably on top. Tom Brady’s father once told The New York Times’s magazine that no matter what happens, his son’s pursuit of timelessness cannot end well. While he was addressing a potential end in New England specifically, the comment was rooted in his son’s desire to continue throwing a football until each and every general manager in the league refused to pay him for the privilege. On Sunday, Brady looked like a man still years away from that kind of forced retirement. Should he actually choose to retire now, he’d do so on a handcrafted stage from which we can still celebrate him for the best of what he was. If he wants to sign a five-year contract, we could make sense of that, too. [Read more]

Tom Brady nearly delivered more magic. Was that the last time we get to see him try? [Yahoo Sports]

Was Brady’s 365th career game his last?

If it is, then he’ll probably one day smile at the endearing image of himself, mid-40s, bloodied and bitter yet never backing down. The loss will hurt longer than the lip. But if he couldn’t go out hoisting a Lombardi Trophy, then at least still putting a fourth-quarter scare into the Rams was something, an old gunslinger still pumping off shots until the end. [Read more]

Buccaneers QB Tom Brady undecided on returning for 2022 season [NFL.com]

To be sure, there has been no drop-off in his play. Brady led the NFL in touchdown passes (43) and passing yards (5,316) in 2021. Considering the maniacal way he takes care of his body, there's no reason to believe a drop-off is coming anytime soon.

However, given his age and where he is in life — plus having already won a Super Bowl with another team besides the Patriots — retirement is something he'll consider. [Read more]

What's next for Tom Brady, Buccaneers? Playoff loss to Rams may not signal end to Super run, retirement [Sporting News]

First, Brady has to decide whether he wants to return for his Age 45 season with his second team. He is under contract for $25.4 million through 2022. The Bucs still have many strong promising pieces, offensively and defensively, that might make him believe he can make one more run at an eighth ring. Then again, he could be satisfied with already winning a ring away from the Patriots and Bill Belichick to stamp his career as the unquestioned GOAT QB.

Brady still played at high level, but it's a yearlong toll to stay in shape and continue to fight Father Time. He could go either way in wanting a lot more of the grind in pursuit of a little more glory. What Brady decides will influence his favorite go-to tight end, Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski is unsigned going into his Age 33 season and may, like after winning Super Bowl 53 vs. the Rams, opt to retire, this time for real. Without Brady, the Bucs would suddenly need to find a QB solution, likely another veteran bridge given they still pick late in the first round of the draft. [Read more]

Has Tom Brady played his final NFL game? What we know about legendary QB's future [USA Today]

As Brady's former Patriots teammate Rob Ninkovich pointed out on ESPN's "Get Up" last week, Brady does not have anything left to prove on the football field.

His seven Super Bowls are a record. But past accomplishments likely won't be a good enough reason for Brady to hang up the cleats.

As his children get older, there will be family considerations. He has burgeoning business endeavors in apparel (the Brady line partnered with college athletes through new name, image and likeness rules), cryptocurrency and the media space – his production company helped air a 10-part documentary about his Super Bowl seasons on ESPN+.

Could there be enough going on for Brady outside football that it factors into the decision? [Read more]

I wasn't always a morning person. After spending years as a nighttime sports copy editor and page designer, I made the move to digital editing in 2000. Turns out, it was one of the best moves I've ever made.
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