‘Bitter ending’ to last season helped spark unretirement

TAMPA — Tom Brady knows the end of his career is near but had a bitter feeling about the way the 2021 season ended with a 30-27 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams.

“At the end of the day, I just love the competition on the field,” Brady told ESPN. “And last year was a very bitter ending to a season, and we’ve got to make a lot of corrections and try to improve and put ourselves in a better position to succeed moving forward.”

You have to wonder if one of those corrections was naming Todd Bowles the new Bucs head coach after Bruce Arians abruptly retired to take a front office job.

Brady said after retiring Feb. 1 that he spoke with several members of the organization that he had built relationships with ― including Arians ― and decided he wanted to continue playing. The Bucs own Brady’s rights and made it clear they weren’t interested in trading them.

In other words, if Brady wanted to play, it would be with the Bucs.

Brady’s announcement that he was ending his retirement came on the eve of the start of free agency. That wasn’t a coincidence. As that deadline approached, Brady said he started seriously thinking about playing again.

“I knew my body, physically, could still do what it could do and obviously, I have a love for the game,” Brady said. “I think I’ll always have a love for the game. I do think physically, I’ll be able to do it. I just felt there was still a place for me on the field.”

But he made it clear, this time it may not be for long.

“I know I don’t have a lot left, I really do,” said Brady, who turns 45 on Aug. 3. “I know I’m at the end of my career. I wish you could go on forever, but it’s just not and football comes at too high a cost now. My kids are getting older and it’s just harder and harder to miss these things.

“But I wanted to give myself and my teammates and our organization another incredible opportunity to accomplish something that we’d all be very proud of.”

Brady spoke to ESPN the day before the launch of his new golf collection through his performance apparel brand BRADY.

On June 1, he will team with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers against the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Bills’ Josh Allen in the latest installment of The Match, a golf event to raise money for charity.

Brady did not address reports that he planned to join the Miami Dolphins ownership group headed by Michigan booster Stephen M. Ross or whether Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the team and the NFL, which dropped the same day he announced his retirement, affected his plans.

It’s clear Brady won’t participate in the Bucs’ offseason program so the next time he’s likely to be questioned about his unretirement will be during the team’s mandatory minicamp June 7-9.

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