Tom Brady sounded ready to bid goodbye. In the aftermath of a blowout loss during Wild Card Weekend, the National Football League’s acknowledged Greatest of All Time delivered what appeared to be a valedictory. It wasn’t simply that his presser lasted less than five minutes. It was what he said during his abbreviated stint on the podium. “Thank you, guys, for everything this year,” he told members of the media. “I really appreciate all your efforts. And I know it’s hard for you guys, too.”
The question, to be sure, is this: What was Brady referring to? And there’s cause to ask because, like contemporary great Aaron Rodgers, he continues to argue that he can win under the right circumstances. In other words, his knee-jerk inclination is to keep on donning his cleats, even as he heads north of 45, and as his skills seem to be on the wane. In other words, he may well be doffing his hat to the Buccaneers while casting moist eyes in another destination.
Make no mistake. Even at his advancing age, Brady remains in the top half of quarterbacks in the league. That said, he can no longer win games by himself, especially in this day and age of mobility. Significant changes to the way the sport is placed have made pocket passers — even those in the elite like him — less valuable vis-à-vis athletic types who combine strong arms with nimble legs. Which is to say he needs the right personnel around him in order to encounter success.
Brady will, of course, not have any shortage of suitors, among them franchises aiming for upgrades under center. If he’s smart, though, he’ll be making his list of potential destinations short. Make that very short. Among them is Las Vegas, where he can reunite with Raiders coach Josh McDaniels to run a familiar offense with ample weapons. New York is likewise a good option, with the Jets boasting of a solid defense and enough in the war chest to get the necessary talents to support him. Heck, even Miami is a good bet, assuming the Dolphins want to move on from Tua Tagovailoa.
That said, Brady would do well to rethink his position and stick with the Buccaneers. They’re all he needs; they just had a string of injuries that derailed their season. Barring the financial calisthenics required for them to retain vital cogs on defense, their offense is ready-made for him. There is also the not inconsiderable leeway the front office has only been too willing to give him as he tries to juggle his time between his family and his profession. All things considered, it’s safe to say he will be deciding on the basis of work-life balance. The championship may still be the objective, but it won’t come at the expense of everything else.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.