The 2022 Tom Brady rollercoaster: No retirement, blowouts, losing streaks and divorce
Being the biggest star in the NFL puts you under the microscope. Every turn, every move, every utterance, whether on or off the field, is scrutinized.
Over the years, it’s fair to say that 2022 has become something of an Annus Horribilis for Tom Brady.
His Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost three games in a row first time this has happened in Brady’s career history since 2002.
The Bucs’ inconsistency has seen the 45-year-old quarterback’s frustrations fade, with his explosive bursts caught on the sidelines in several games.
Meanwhile, Brady’s personal life has also dominated major column inches. After rumors of marital unrest between him and his wife, Gisele Bündchen Bündchen, the couple announced last week that they are divorcing after 13 years of marriage.
So how did we get to this point?
After a crushing end to the Bucs’ season in last year’s playoffs, the team was left with more questions than answers.
What would happen to head coach Bruce Arians? What would happen to all the veteran players in the franchise? How do they avoid playoff pain in the 2022/2023 season?
One thing the Bucs probably weren’t worried about was Brady’s long-term commitment, given that the quarterback had previously said he wanted to keep playing until he was close to 50 years old.
However, just weeks after the Super Bowl in February, the NFL world was stunned when Brady announced he was retiring from the sport he had conquered with such aplomb.
It appeared to be the end of an era in which the NFL’s most successful player called time on his career, as Brady cited a desire to spend more time with his family.
But saying goodbye to a sport that has practically been your life is easier said than done.
Within days, rumors began to circulate that Brady’s status as a retired player was not as concrete as previously thought.
A few weeks later, Brady confirmed would return for his 23rd NFL season, saying he “realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands.”
With Brady back on the bench and many of their veteran players opting to return, the Bucs regained their status as a Super Bowl contender.
The only major change for the franchise was head coach Arians, who stepped down and became a senior advisor to the general manager.
However, for Brady, whose commitment to the game has taken him to heights never before achieved, this was a season that just felt different from the start.
He had an unexplained and unexpected 11-day absence from training camp in August to deal with some “personal things” and repeatedly sounded more pensive about retirement, saying it wasn’t too far off.
And while he’s reiterated his commitment to the Bucs organization, Brady hasn’t quite seen himself this season.
While he’s played pretty well, Tampa Bay’s team has struggled overall, and Brady has shown glimpses of his human side; not the almost robotic winning machine we’ve come to know him as.
Broke a tablet with annoyance one week; he was seen swearing at his offensive line against the Pittsburgh Steelers; and in general, he has cut a frustrated figure on the field.
None more so than last week, when the 45-year-old became the most sacked quarterback in NFL history during the Bucs’ 27-22 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football.
Brady was sacked twice late in the first half to initially match and then break the record held by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The next day came the big news confirming his divorce from Bündchen.
Reports of marital problems between him and Bündchen surfaced just over a month ago, with sources close to the couple telling CNN that they have hired divorce lawyers and are “living apart.”
In an interview with Elle magazine published last month, Bündchen, 42, said she had “concerns” about her husband returning to the field after initially retiring last winter.
“This is a very violent sport, I have my children and I wish I was more present,” Bündchen told the publication.
“I’ve definitely had those conversations with him over and over. But ultimately, I think everybody has to make a decision that works [them]. He too must follow his joy.”
In early October, Brady admitted on his podcast that he has been using physical and mental therapy to address his mental health in recent years so he can “be good to the people around me” while opening up about the “intense amount of stress” that has faced his podcast. NFL career
Brady’s tough 2022 has led some commentators to suggest the quarterback should have remained retired.
In particular, football writer Don Yaeger has drawn parallels to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s final season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of organization we’re talking about; Leaders make everyone around them better understand what their peers need from them and from each other to succeed,” Yaeger wrote. on Forbes.com.
“Leaders model and transmit the values of the coach and the organization as new players come in, and leaders inspire their teammates with the strength of their success and talent.
“When age claims this talent, as it claims all things in this life, the equipment not only loses functionality; it loses some of that precious psychic glue that holds a collection of individuals together as a team.”
Yaeger added, “As for Brady, all those who watched him lead his teams to victory over the years and exemplify grace under pressure deserve to wish him the best before he breaks another Microsoft laptop in the frustration margin None of us benefit from this, least of all your current colleagues.
“We all grow old outside of our profession. A trait of a leader is knowing each other well enough to do it gracefully.”
Or, as District Attorney Harvey Dent put it more prosaically in the 2008 hit film ‘The Dark Knight’: “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain “.
In what is supposed to be Brady’s final season in the NFL, many, including no doubt the quarterback, would have expected a fairytale ending to the greatest career in sports history.
The caveat is that we’ve seen Brady perform miracles before, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could turn it around.
But with his personal life changing and problems on the field piling up, it’s looking like a tall order, even for the GOAT.
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