Buccaneers' Tom Brady on NFL future: 'It's not always what I want'

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) fires a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half of an NFL wild-card football game Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (Jason Behnken/AP)

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers saw their Super Bowl defence come to an end on Sunday with a loss to the Los Angeles Rams meaning something that has become an annual off-season tradition in the NFL can begin: Speculation about the soon-to-be Hall of Famer's future.

The 44-year-old showed this season that he certainly can still play, putting together some of the best numbers of his career and surely earning some MVP votes. But at his age, the decision is about more than just him and Brady acknowledged as much Monday, saying he will take some time with his family before deciding whether to return to the field.

"There's no real rush for me to figure out what's next. I'll know when I know," Brady said. "I think as I've gotten older, I think the best part is, is football is extremely important in my life. And it means a lot to me.

"And the biggest difference now that I'm older is I have kids now too, you know, and I care about them a lot as well. They've been my biggest supporters. My wife is my biggest supporter. It pains her to see me get hit out there. And she deserves what she needs from me as a husband and my kids deserve what they need from me as a dad. And I'm gonna spend some time with them and give them what they need, 'cause they've really been giving me what I need the last six months to do what I love to do. I said this a few years ago, it's what relationships are all about. 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."

Whether Brady truly is finished or not, he has already authored one of the greatest careers in NFL history -- highlighted by seven championship wins and three MVP awards. Beyond Brady, the Buccaneers have a number of questions on offence with key contributors such as Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones and Rob Gronkowski all without contracts for next season.

But there's no doubt that Brady's decision will impact how the Buccaneers approach many of their other decisions. And it seems even the QB1 doesn't know what's going to happen.

"Playing football I get so much joy from. I love it. But not playing football, there's a lot of joy in that for me also now, too, with my kids getting older and seeing them develop and grow," Brady said. "So all these things need to be considered and they will be. And, you know, the funny part is always that most guys retire and then move to Florida. I'm already in Florida! So it's really confusing, even to me."

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