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After he’d spoken to reporters and gathered his belongings from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers locker room, Tom Brady walked out of Raymond James Stadium. With him was his eldest son, Jack, following a game against the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago.
Brady’s 15-year-old boy is, by the way, built like his father. He’s already about 6-foot-1 and thin as a rail. But you can see he’s not done growing because his feet are already as big as his dad’s and he’s also likely to fill out like Brady. You remember Brady’s pre-NFL body from that infamous Indianapolis Combine photo 22 years ago, right?
Brady Turned 45 In August
Anyway, father and son seemed oblivious to everything except each other as they left the stadium that Sunday evening.
It was as if they were in their private little hub, with Jack talking as they walked and Brady, head tilted toward his son to hear every word, nodding in agreement.
I didn’t think anything of it then, but this moment came back to me Tuesday when I read the New York Post report Brady and his wife Gisele Bündchen have both hired divorce lawyers in advance of a possible marital split.
And the reason that scene replayed in my mind is because it showed Brady in his element. It showed him with family in a football environment. Perfect.
That leads me to this: if the Brady-Bündchen power marriage is indeed headed for an end — however sad and personal that process is — it could have a very public and significant repercussion for the NFL.
And that repercussion is as simple as Brady continuing to play past this season.
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One of the reasons Brady’s NFL future has been uncertain, beyond him not being signed for 2023, is Gisele has wanted him to be home. She has wanted him “present,” as she put it in a September interview with Elle Magazine.
“This is a very violent sport, and I have my children and I would like him to be more present,” Bündchen said. “I have definitely had those conversations with him over and over again. But ultimately, I feel that everybody has to make a decision that works for them. He needs to follow his joy, too.”
Brady followed his wife’s advice — and repeated wishes — when he retired on February 1st. But when he followed his “joy, too” and un-retired 40 days later, it led to an “epic” disagreement after which Bündchen left for South America and a separation that has apparently lasted until this day.
All this is background and it feels like gossip about a man’s personal business. But once Brady’s personal business bleeds into his NFL career and possibly determines the very length of that career, it becomes public.
Brady And Gisele Married In 2009
So here we are, asking people who might know what happens to Brady’s career if a divorce is inevitable. And one of those people told OutKick it will get tricky.
“Look, it’s too early to be saying with any certainty because so much has to play out, but I know this guy and it’s not outrageous to believe that as long as his children are happy with him playing, he could very well decide to keep playing beyond this year,” said one media source who has been as close to Brady as media are ever allowed get.
“If Gisele isn’t there to push him to retire, the factors that decide whether he gets out are his children, his [parents], and his ability to do what he’s always done, which is to be the best at his position.”
And if all those things align and there is no Gisele in the immediate picture pushing Brady to retire?
“Then, again, I go back to ‘is he at the top of his game?'” the source said. “We all know he loves playing and if he can still do that at a high level after this season with no one demanding he stop getting a say anymore, I can see Tom playing next season.”
This isn’t outrageous thinking. Patrick Mahomes, who has sought advice from Brady on countless issues both on and off the field, touched on it before the Chiefs and Buccaneers played Sunday.
“You see what Tom is – he’s still playing at a very high level,” Mahomes said. “I think that’s why it’s hard for him to kind of give it up. When you’re playing at a high level you don’t want to leave it.”
Tampa Bay Hosts Atlanta On Sunday
Don’t be fooled by the Buccaneers’ 2-2 record that has included consecutive losses. Brady is still playing well.
Tampa Bay had no running game to speak of against Kansas City on Sunday night, so all Brady did was pass for 385 yards and 3 TDs without an interception.
And, since 2020 two quarterbacks have had eight games in which they threw for 400+ yards and four touchdowns. Buffalo’s Josh Allen is one of those quarterbacks.
Tom Brady is the other.
Look, the hope here is Brady and Bündchen can reconcile somehow. But if they cannot, don’t be surprised if that allows Brady a freedom to continue with his other great love.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero