Tom Brady’s retirement lasted 40 days.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion, who stepped away from football on Feb. 1, announced on Sunday night that he is returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 23rd NFL season.
These are Brett Favre levels of drama and decision from the so-called G.O.A.T. of football.
“These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands,” Brady tweeted. “That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business LFG.”
Brady, 44, won a Super Bowl in his first season with the Bucs in 2020 and played at an MVP level in 2021, finishing the regular season with 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdown passes, but Tampa bowed out in the divisional round of the playoffs to the eventual champion L.A. Rams. And there were whispers of discord between Brady and Bucs coach Bruce Arians in year two.
Arians, while acknowledging he’d love to have Brady back, even said at this year’s NFL Combine that not enough of Brady’s teammates got credit for their championship.
“Tom got all the credit,” Arians said. “It wasn’t just Tom Brady.”
Arians said on March 1 that he was confident Brady had shut the door on football for good “because of the reasons he retired.”
“He slammed it shut when I talked to him,” Arians said.
But something changed, or Brady just couldn’t help himself.
Multiple players and coaches who talked to the Daily News on Sunday were both unsurprised and confused by the drama Brady continued to create with this about-face.
Some didn’t understand what he meant when he said he has unfinished business. What does he have left to prove? Others wondered if he had surveyed his options with other teams from afar before recognizing it would be Tampa or nowhere.
Brady said on Feb. 1 in an Instagram post that he was “not going to make that competitive commitment anymore.
“I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention,” he added.
Brady always was expected to step away one day soon to spend more time with his family: wife and model Gisele Bundchen and his kids.
Brady never used the words “retire” or “retirement,” however. And an ESPN report actually beat Brady to announcing his own plans and prevented him from controlling the narrative. It’s possible that didn’t sit well with him and he wants that control back.
Brady is still technically under contract with Tampa for the 2022 NFL season, though, so he had always left the door open slightly to continuing to play this fall.
Brady then watched in person on Saturday at Old Trafford as Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick to beat Tottenham, setting professional football’s all-time scoring record.
And the very next day, he announced he’s not done playing American football.
The Buccaneers are poised to win a second straight AFC South title with Brady returning and Sean Payton stepping down as the New Orleans Saints’ coach.
The happiest reaction to Sunday’s news, hilariously, came Sunday from Rams corner Jalen Ramsey, who had surrendered Brady’s final career touchdown pass for 55 yards to Mike Evans.
“THANK YOU,” Ramsey tweeted. “Throw that last touchdown on somebody else.”