Tom Brady

Tom Brady Coming Back for 23rd NFL Season: ‘Unfinished Business'

Tom Brady is no longer retired. The QB said Sunday, "These past two months I've realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it's not now."

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The GOAT is back.

After all the speculation, it turns out Tom Brady isn't officially retired.

Less than two months after announcing his retirement from the National Football League, the QB announced on his Twitter and Instagram accounts Sunday evening that he has unfinished business and is returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his 23rd season in the NFL.

The seven-time Super Bowl champion said he has spent the past 40 days reflecting on his decision and came to realize he still belongs on the field, noting he is ready to go.

"These past two months I've realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it's not now," Brady wrote.

Brady credited his teammates and family with making this decision a reality, sharing two pictures alongside his announcement -- one of his wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, and his three kids; and the other of Bucs offensive linemen.

"I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible," he said. "I'm coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business LFG."

The Buccaneers were quick to post their own tweet with Brady's signature line, later sharing Brady's announcement, writing, "Tampa Tom is BACK."

And the NFL followed not long after, simply writing, "He's back."

Brady's reversal sent shock waves throughout the sports world, and his teammates, Buccaneers fans, and the City of Tampa reacted with jubilation.

Several of Brady's Bucs teammates, like receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, shared their joy in smiley face emojis.

Bündchen did not immediately post anything on her social media accounts Sunday regarding her husband's announcement, but she did reply to Brady's Instagram post, writing, "Here we go again! Let's go lovvvey! Let's go Bucs!"

Brady had cited his desire to spend more time with Bündchen and his kids -- John "Jack" Edward, 14, Benjamin Rein, 12, and Vivian Lake, 9 -- when he first announced his "retirement."

It was Feb. 1 when Brady announced he was stepping away from the league to pursue other endeavors, saying at the time he wasn't prepared to make a 100-percent all-in competitive commitment anymore.

But many had trouble believing he was officially retired, walking away from the game when he was still performing at the top of the league.

Brady led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title following the 2020 season and NFC South championship last season. The 44-year-old led the NFL in yards passing, touchdowns, completions and attempts last season, but the Buccaneers lost in the divisional round at home to the Los Angeles Rams, who went on to win the Super Bowl. 

Brady had remained vague on his status, though, seeming to drop hints here and there, like "never say never" when asked if he was done for good.

There was rampant speculation that even if Brady returned that he would want to play for another team. Some believed the Bay Area native wanted to join his hometown San Francisco 49ers, especially after reports had emerged in recent weeks that the relationship between Brady and Bucs head coach Bruce Arians had soured -- something Arians has adamantly denied.

Who knows if there's any truth to that, but it's unlikely the Bucs would agree to a trade for their star QB either way.

Michael Felger and Tom E. Curran say it's not surprising that Tom Brady is back, but it is surprising that he's returning to Tampa.

NBC Sports Boston's Michael Felger and Tom E. Curran were two people saying Sunday they weren't surprised to hear Brady is back -- but they are surprised Brady is back with the Bucs.

Felger says it came down to the fact that Tampa wasn't going to let the quarterback go, saying Brady knew if he wanted to keep playing, it would have be for the Buccaneers.

Meanwhile, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said Sunday it's "total excitement" for Arians now that Brady is returning under center for Tampa, noting the Bucs always left the light on for the QB while looking at other options for next season.

In a statement later Sunday, Arians said he is ecstatic that Brady has decided to come back and is ready to work toward another Super Bowl title.

"Tom Brady loves to play football as much as anyone I have ever been around. As Tom said, his place right now is on the football field. He is still playing at a championship level and was as productive as anyone in the league last season," Arians said in his statement posted to Tampa's Twitter account. "We are ecstatic that he decided to continue playing and working toward winning another championship."

The retirement of legendary quarterback Tom Brady shook Patriots Nation, but his omission of any mention of his two decades in New England bothered a lot of Patriots fans.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht also released his own statement Sunday, revealing that he and Arians had several conversations with Brady recently that made them believe the quarterback might return.

"We are thrilled that Tom has decided to come back this season. We said we would leave all options open for him should he reconsider his retirement and today's announcement is something we have been preparing for in recent days," Licht said. "Bruce and I have had plenty of conversations with Tom recently that led us to believe there was a realistic chance he would want to come back."

Licht heaped praise on his returning quarterback, calling him the greatest quarterback of all time who is still playing at an elite level.

"With this decision now made, we will continue to move forward with our offseason plans to reload this roster for another championship run," Licht added.

The Buccaneers should have a far easier time retaining star players and bringing new talent to Tampa Bay now that Brady has confirmed he'll be the signal caller.

With Brady under contract in Tampa for the 2022 season, many are understandably wondering about other key Bucs players whose futures were hanging in the balance, namely tight end Rob Gronkowski -- a close friend and longtime teammate of Brady's who was convinced to unretire to join his QB in Tampa in 2020.

Brady's news comes at an especially critical time for the Buccaneers organization, just days before free agency begins. The team still has to make decisions on several players like Gronk, running back Leonard Fournette, Gio Bernard -- who went to Tampa to play with Brady -- cornerback Carton Davis, safety Jordan Whitehead, linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and others. 

The team had already placed the franchise tag on Godwin ahead of this week's deadline, and they kept another important player when Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen agreed to a three-year contract late Sunday night, according to his agent Mike McCartney.

Legendary quarterback Tom Brady is retiring after 22 season in the NFL. He play 20 years of his career with the New England Patriots and finished his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It's worth noting that Brady announced his change of heart just a day after attending a Manchester United match where Brady sat with the Glazer family, who owns the club...and the Buccaneers.

In video posted to Brady's Instagram account ahead of his Sunday announcement, Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to ask Brady, "You're finished, right?" And Brady's face certainly looked to say, not quite. Now we know he's in fact not finished with football.

While some fans in New England said Sunday night that a comeback for the former Patriots QB was never out of the question, there was a good deal of confusion and even some bitterness after his announcement.

The news came as Boston sports fans were watching Kevin Garnett's jersey retirement ceremony at the TD Garden. No. 5 wasn't even hanging in the rafters when Brady posted he's back, and some fans are bitter he stole the spotlight from KG.

Regardless, many New Englanders still want Brady on their team, though it's highly unlikely Brady's unfinished business will be finished in Foxboro.

Other sports fans across the nation were mad Brady stole the thunder from Selection Sunday -- when the 68-team bracket for the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament was revealed.

It's no surprise that Brady's announcement caused quite the stir on social media. The NFL and its fans will be watching to see if Brady -- who turns 45 this summer -- can make a run at an 8th Super Bowl ring and build on truly staggering stats.

Brady is the NFL's career leader in yards passing (84,520) and TDs (624). He's the only player to win more than five Super Bowls and has been MVP of the game five times. Brady has won three NFL MVP awards, been a first-team All-Pro three times and selected to the Pro Bowl 15 times. He is 243-73 in his career in the regular season and 35-12 in the playoffs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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