Wife, 3 kids remain top consideration as Tom Brady assesses future

Joey Knight
Tampa Bay Times

Until he reaches a decision on whether to play a 23rd NFL season, Tom Brady’s every sound bite will be scrutinized by a public desperate to get a read on his future.

Which takes us to his latest Let’s Go! podcast Monday evening, when the married dad of three often sounded like a middle-aged man content to call it a career and start giving back to a family that has sacrificed several autumns for the sake of his craft.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, his wife, Gisele Bundchen, and their family arrive for a NFL football walkthrough, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, in Atlanta, ahead of Super Bowl 53 against the Los Angeles Rams.

At one point, he even seemed to assess his mortality, invoking the late Kobe Bryant’s name.

“As I’ve gotten older, I think the best part is, football is extremely important in my life, and it means a lot to me,” Brady, who turns 45 in August, told podcast co-host Jim Gray.

“And the biggest difference now that I’m older is, I have kids now, too, 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, my kids deserve what they need from me as a dad.”

Brady’s oldest son Jack (whose mother is actress Bridget Moynahan) now is a teenager who accompanied his dad a handful of days at training camp this past summer. Younger son Benjamin and daughter Vivian, with wife and model Gisele Bundchen, are at or approaching middle-school age.

On Monday, hours after the Bucs’ staggering rally from a 24-point deficit ended with a 30-27 playoff loss to the Rams, Brady said he was able to have waffles with his two younger children because he had no practice to attend.

“Playing football, I get so much joy from, I love it,” he said.

“But not playing football, there’s a lot of joy in that for me also now, with my kids getting older and seeing them develop and grow. So all these things need to be considered, and they will be. The funny part is, most guys retire and then move to Florida. I’m already in Florida. So it’s really confusing, even to me.”

Brady, who technically has a year remaining on his contract with the Bucs, said he’s in no rush to make a decision. Among the considerations (which he often has repeated) is whether he can – or desires – to keep performing at an elite level.

He did so this past season at age 44, leading the NFL in passing yards (5,316) and touchdown passes (43) in the regular season, while leading the Bucs to a franchise-record 13 regular-season triumphs and their first NFC South title in 14 years.

“Every year I just have to make sure that I have the ability to commit to what the team really needs, and that’s really important to me,” Brady said. “The team doesn’t deserve anything less than my best, and if I feel like I’m not committed to that or I can’t play at a championship level, then you’ve got to give someone else a chance to play.”

He has ample time to assess that commitment level. For now, Brady said he’ll decompress and savor the waking moments.

“We never know what’s going to happen in the future, we really don’t,” Brady said.

“I mean, Kobe Bryant, a friend of ours, God rest his soul. You think you’re going to live forever, we’re not. We think we’re going to play forever, we’re not. What can we do? We can enjoy the moments that we have. As difficult as it was to lose the game (Sunday), I was glad I played in it, and I was glad I was a part of it.”

Other topics addressed by Brady during his podcast:

The unsportsmanlike-conduct flag he drew (first of his NFL career) for arguing with referee Shawn Hochuli after receiving a bloody lower lip from the helmet of Rams star Von Miller:

“If I feel like they miss a call, I want to let the guy know, and I’ve done that literally a thousand times over the course of my career and never got called. … I didn’t cuss, I didn’t do any of those things other than identify (the hit) to him.”

On whether he’d be interested in having a series of farewell-tour tributes his final season:

“I think that would be distracting for me. My enjoyment comes from not recognition of kind of what I’ve accomplished as a player in the league. My enjoyment comes from the competition.”

On whether he could exit his career proud and satisfied even after an excruciating loss like Sunday’s:

“I would say I’m proud and satisfied of everything we accomplished this year. I know when I give it my all, that’s something to be proud of, and I’ve literally given everything I had this year, last year, the year before that. I don’t leave anything half-ass. I think I leave it with everything I have.”