TB Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A successful Tom Brady team like all the other successful Tom Brady teams.

Bucs Odds and Stats

Forty days.

For 40 days, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were stuck wandering the desert. After falling short in their comeback attempt against the Rams in the divisional round, they were hit with the news that effectively ended this version of the team: Tom Brady was retiring.

The decision was not wholly unexpected. While Brady remained one of the top quarterbacks in the league, he was 44 years old and well past reasonable retirement age for an elite athlete. He has more Super Bowl rings than any other human not named Bill Belichick and a trophy case overflowing with awards and honors. He could retire to Canton, to Giselle, to an eternity of celebrity golf and the wild world of being able to stay up later than 8:30 or eat a tomato. He had absolutely nothing more to prove.

In the world where Brady stayed at home, we’d be talking about all the free agents who drifted away with Brady no longer at the center of the universe. We’d be discussing the dubious claim made by Bruce Arians that Blaine Gabbert was the most underrated player in the NFL, and debating whether Kyle Trask was ready to step in. We’d be talking about rebuilding.

But something always seemed a bit off. Brady had initially refuted the reports of his retirement before going through with it. When he finally released a statement, he neglected to mention the Patriots, sparking rumors that this was a ploy to be an owner/player in Miami, or to get out from a deteriorating relationship with Arians. These rumors burst into flame when Brady told Jim Gray to “never say never” about the possibility of coming back. After all, Brady may well be the world’s most competitive human being; he was really going to walk away a loser when Peyton Manning and John Elway got to leave the field as champions?

Brady will keep the truth of what happened in those 40 days to himself, at least until he can figure out a way to monetize it for 199 Productions. Whatever the truth, Brady survived his 40 days...