Seth Wickersham: ‘Seems like this is it’ for Tom Brady’s NFL career

The ESPN writer and author pointed to Brady's off-the-field aspirations as reasons he might retire and cast doubt on the quarterback wanting a "farewell tour."

Tom Brady retirement
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady talking to head coach Bruce Arians before a game against the Carolina Panthers. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio, File)
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Even as the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams prepare to do battle in the Super Bowl, the NFL world waits with bated breath to hear from Tom Brady amid reports of his possible retirement.

While some in Brady’s camp have thrown cold water on the quarterback supposedly having come to a firm decision, many believe the report issued by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington has the essential detail right: Brady could be on the verge of hanging up his cleats.

Count ESPN senior writer Seth Wickersham, author of the Patriots-centric chronicle “It’s Better to Be Feared,” among those who thinks the NFL’s greatest winner of all-time is ready to move on.


“It just seemed like he started to get more interested in some of the things he had started to create this season that really had nothing to do with football,” he said. “It had been the feeling in the building and certainly the feeling of people close to Tom that even though he had stated his goal to play until he was age 45 and even this year started to discuss playing into his 50s, this looked like it could be it.”

“He has the right to change his mind on anything, but…it seems like this is it.”

From an on-the-field standpoint, Brady absolutely looked as if he could play until–probably even past–age 45, leading the league in passing yards and touchdowns and putting the Bucs in position to win with an epic comeback in his final game of the season.

But the realities of football are still harsh. Brady struggled for much of the Bucs’ playoff loss and took three sacks and six quarterback hits in the game. It’s also worth noting he played most of last year on a torn MCL and had to have knee surgery in the offseason, which is no small thing for a 44-year-old quarterback.


Plus, Tampa Bay’s in-season turmoil due to injuries and the Antonio Brown fiasco and disappointing finish likely led to frustration on Brady’s part, according to Wickersham.

“You come from a place like New England if you’re Tom Brady, they’re so buttoned-up on everything,” he said, noting that Bill Belichick would’ve likely had a different game plan for Rams star receiver Cooper Kupp late in Tampa Bay’s Divisional Round loss. “The Bucs just aren’t as much.”

“All the things going on in Tom’s life, from the Brady brand to being 44 years old to the family issues…I think that the idea of coming back to Tampa with a different roster and having to reinvent yourself again with most of the world knowing that’s your last year and giving you a farewell tour, I just don’t think it’s something that, certainly if I were Tom Brady, who I’m not obviously, that doesn’t sound like something that would interest me.”

Wickersham didn’t have any guesses on whether or not an announcement might be imminent in the final episode of “Man in the Arena,” which does not yet have an air date.

And though the writer suggested there’s a “strong” possibility Brady might choose to ceremonially retire as a member of the Patriots organization he brought six championships to, he also noted Brady is “very proud” of winning a championship in Tampa Bay and might not return to Foxborough so immediately after retiring.


That said, Wickersham does believe the fracture between the all-time great quarterback and his former team has healed enough for that to happen.

“I think there was some indication of that from Robert Kraft after they played in early October that some of the issues that were going on between Brady and the Patriots have been resolved to an extent, and the idea of him coming back…and retiring in those colors is something that’s on the table,” he said.


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