The Nuclear Rumor That Went Around the Combine: Tom Brady is Ready to Re-Un-Retire
In Julius Caesar, a heartbroken Marc Antony is speaking before the corpse of his assassinated friend and, alluding to the affect he had upon the world, says, "The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones." (Which didn't stop him from then scooping up Caesar's sloppy seconds in the form of Cleopatra, but that's for another discussion.) Unfortunately, it's altogether true.
But not always. Because when Shakespeare's pen put those words in Antony's mouth, neither of them could've anticipated the existence of Tom Brady. The good he did in the NFL is so profound, it's outliving his actual playing days. The representatives of all 32 teams came to Indianapolis not to bury Brady's career, but to praise him. Even 23 years after one of the most forgettable, unimpressive Combine performances of all time:
… the GOAT generated more buzz than all the bench presses, 20-yard shuttle drills, hand measurements and Wonderlich scores combined. In fact, according to people who were there, he was the No. 1 story line. Rich Eisen is the ringmaster of the Lucas Oil Circus, and related what he heard (Brady remarks begin at 6:30):
“This one just blew my mind: Tom Brady might not be done after all. A couple people were just like, ‘Hang on, just you wait.’ And I was like, ‘He’s Instagramming out pictures of his cat.’ But it doesn’t look like he’s getting big and fat, does it? And just let it play out and see who wants what.”
Hard as that might be to believe, when you consider the terabytes of reports he's been trying to get himself to the Dolphins since he was still under contract with the Patriots, it becomes way more plausible:
“The one place that folks are saying to keep an eye out for is Miami. If the Dolphins, somehow or some way get a doctor’s report, a piece of information from a medical evaluation of Tua [Tagovailoa] that he may not be ready to go, and suddenly there’s Tom Brady sitting in Florida, where his family is located and where he can easily locate himself. Keep an eye on that, I was told by a couple birdies at the combine."
To review: Phillip Rivers wants back into pro football. The Bears are "long down the road" of trading the No. 1 pick. Three seasons removed from Lamar Jackson winning the league MVP, "it is NOT pretty" between him and the Ravens. Aaron Rodgers won the next two MVPs, but the Packers don't want him back and are hoping he either retires or demands a trade. Yet despite those absolute banger rumors, the guy getting the lion's share of the attention in Indy was the guy who's off playing with his kids and planning to launch his stand up career.
Pro Football Talk doesn't disagree, though with some caveats:
For reasons previously articulated in this space, I don’t believe the door is completely slammed on Brady returning to football in 2023. While he can truthfully say as of now that he’s done, he could change his mind at any time. …
And the right situation could be Miami. They were linked to him in 2020 and 2022. They were busted for tampering with him during that same period of time. Now, they have real questions about the short- and long-term durability of Tua Tagovailoa. Also, two of Brady’s children are now living in Miami. …
Still, Brady could change his mind at any time. And it would be foolish to assume that it’s impossible he’ll wake up one day in June or July and decide to continue playing.
I'd call it preposterous. I'd insist there's no way this could possibly happen. I'd say anyone giving this idea serious consideration needs to check with their doctor and ask about getting on some powerful psych meds. But I'm not doing any of those things because I do not doubt there's something to this. I say again, he wanted to get to Miami as far back as 2019. He actually retired on the same day in 2022, right after Brian Flores filed his lawsuit against Dolphins' ownership. And only unretired after flying to England to talk to Bucs ownership at a soccer game, presumably what it would take to make him return (Read: Remove Bruce Arians as coach, more time off during training camp and the regular season.) Based on all of it, I have no doubt Tampa Bay was his Plan B. His safety franchise. And if Flores' lawsuit didn't blow up his spot at the worst possible time, he'd have played in Miami last year.
And speaking of timing, Brady unretired last year on March 13th.
That would be this coming Monday. I can't shake the feeling that retiring on February 1st and unretiring on March 13th is already a GOAT Tradition Unlike Any Other. We'll know for sure if the people talking to Eisen and Mike Florio are onto something in just about a week. Stay tuned.