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After another Pro Bowl season that included MVP chatter and a playoff berth, few thought that this would be the year Tom Brady hangs it up.
But after Sunday's season-ending loss to the Los Angeles Rams, it appears that the seven-time Super Bowl champion hasn't slammed the door on retiring this offseason. The 44-year old Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback didn't offer much on the topic in the immediate aftermath of Sunday's game. He also didn't rule it out.
"I haven't put a lot of thought into it," Brady told reporters. "Taking it day by day."
Gisele 'deserves what she needs from me'
On Monday, he provided a deeper look into his decision-making process while speaking with Jim Gray on the "Let's Go" podcast. He made some compelling points in favor of shutting things down, primarily involving his family.
"I said this a few years ago, it's what relationships are all about," Brady said, per the Tampa Bay Times. "It's not always what I want. It's what we want as a family. And I'm gonna spend a lot of time with them and figure out in the future what's next.”
That adds up to a boiler-plate response for any high-profile athlete being asked about retirement. But a visceral look at his wife Gisele Bundchen's gameday experience offers more insight into his and his family's thought process.
"It pains her to see me get hit out there," Brady continued. "And she deserves what she needs from me as a husband, and my kids deserve what they need from me as a dad."
Brady addressed the decision again on Instagram on Tuesday, and it sounds like a decision isn't coming this week.
"I understand that at this stage in my career, there is going to be interest in my future whenever a season ends, but this week, all that is on my mind is the gratitude I have for this team and the fans that have supported us all year long," Brady wrote.
Brady still loves to play
Brady has long alluded to playing well into his 40s. He told the Tampa Bay Times in October "I’m going to play as long as I can" and that he'll consider retiring only when he's not playing at a championship level.
There's little sign on the football field that the wheels are ready to fall off. Meanwhile, Brady's approaching the second season of a two-year $50 million contract extension in Tampa Bay. But money's a minimal factor here. Brady's earned $293 million on the football field, not to mention his endorsements. And he's not the household's top earner.
No, Brady and Bundchen will surely discuss the decision outside the parameters of paychecks before Brady ultimately makes the call. He appears to be genuinely torn.
"I'd rather play and lose than not play at all," Brady continued. "As much as the losing hurts, it's much more enjoyable for me to be in the arena than not in the arena."
As for when he'll make the decision? Don't hold your breath, Bucs fans.
"I'll know when I know," Brady said. "It's a day after the season."