TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady indicated Monday that family will play a substantial role in determining whether he will return to play next season. He also said that if this is it, he could walk away "proud and satisfied," even though the Bucs lost 30-27 when they were eliminated in the divisional round of the playoffs Sunday by the Los Angeles Rams.
"I think as I've gotten older, I think the best part is, is football is extremely important in my life, and it means a lot to me, and I care a lot about what we're trying to accomplish as a team and I care a lot about my teammates," Brady said on his "Let's Go!" podcast with Jim Gray. "The biggest difference now that I'm older is I have kids now, too, you know, and I care about them a lot as well. They've been my biggest supporters. My wife is my biggest supporter. It pains her to see me get hit out there. And she deserves what she needs from me as a husband, and my kids deserve what they need from me as a dad.
"I'm gonna spend some time with them and give them what they need, 'cause they've really been giving me what I need the last six months to do what I love to do. I said this a few years ago, it's what relationships are all about. It's not always what I want. It's what we want as a family. And I'm gonna spend a lot of time with them and figure out in the future what's next."
Brady has three children. His oldest, Jack, is 14 years old and lives with his mother, actress Bridget Moynahan, in New York, and Brady sees him as much as he can. Brady's son Benjamin, 12, and daughter Vivian, 9, live with him and his wife, supermodel and philanthropist Gisele Bundchen.
While Brady expressed disappointment in being eliminated from the postseason, he said it meant getting to eat waffles with his children Monday morning, something he cannot do in-season.
He said there is no rush to make a decision on his future, and coach Bruce Arians said Monday that no timetable has been set. The team expressed a strong desire for Brady to return but has encouraged him to take all the time he needs and will look at contingency plans in the event he decides not to come back.
Some have questioned how Brady could consider walking away after a loss. He has won seven Super Bowl rings, and owns a 243-73 record during the regular season and a 35-12 record in the postseason. And because of his competitiveness, he said, he felt he couldn't take everything in Sunday, in the event it was his last game.
"I would say I'm proud and satisfied of everything we accomplished this year, so I know when I give it my all, that's something to be proud of," Brady said. "And I've literally given everything I had this year, last year, the year before that, the year before that. Like, I don't leave anything half-ass, you know? I think I leave it with everything that I have. My physical being, I work really hard on that. I feel like I give everything I can to my teammates. Although, it is divided attention as you get older, 'cause there's different priorities and responsibilities in life. And, you know, I have things happening outside of football that require some time and energy.
"Every year I just have to make sure that I have the ability to commit to what the team really needs, and that's really important to me. The team doesn't deserve anything less than my best. And if I feel like I'm not committed to that, or I can't play at a championship level, then you gotta give someone else a chance to play. And, you know, we'll see. There's a long time between now and the start of next football season. I've gotta really figure those things out, which is probably natural for anyone. And at the same time, I would say this, we never know what's gonna happen in the future. We really don't. I mean, Kobe Bryant, a friend of ours, God rest his soul. You think you're gonna live forever. We're not. We think we're gonna play forever. We're not. What can we do? We can enjoy the moments that we have.
"As challenging as the season was, I was glad I played and glad I participated, 'cause I'm living my life and I'm not just counting the days. So my days are meaningful to me. I'm gonna try to keep 'em meaningful to me. And, you know, in the meantime I'm gonna do as best I can to enjoy, you know, the time that I have not playing football. 'Cause that's equally important. Playing football I get so much joy from. I love it. But not playing football, there's a lot of joy in that for me also now, too, with my kids getting older and seeing them develop and grow. So all these things need to be considered and they will be. And, you know, the funny part is always that most guys retire and then move to Florida. I'm already in Florida. So it's really confusing, even to me."
Brady also said he wouldn't want a farewell tour with all the fanfare that accompanies it. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was acknowledged by fans and players as this past season wound down, even taking a final lap around Heinz Field. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he didn't want one either, though many felt there was a strong possibility 2021 might have been his last season, at least with the Packers.
"I think that would be distracting for me. ... My enjoyment comes from not a recognition of kind of what I've accomplished as a player in the league -- my enjoyment comes from the competition," Brady said. "More so than anything, even yesterday, I was thinking about competing. I was thinking about, this whole year, about competing. I wasn't thinking about anything other than that.
"So when the time comes to think about post-career and second career, I'll think about those things. It's just when you're 44, I guess you get asked about that a lot. And a lot of people thought I was done playing football in 2015. A lot of people in 2016 said, 'You're done.' A lot of people in 2018, and when I left the Patriots, they said, 'You're done.'"
Instead, Brady signed with the Bucs in 2020, took them to the postseason for the first time in 13 years and led the franchise to its second Super Bowl 18 years after its first. The Bucs came up short this season, though, as Brady's team failed to advance in the divisional round for just the fourth time in his career.