Remember all those stories about Tom Brady’s retirement? Remember the glowing sendoffs and tributes? The documentaries? The talk-show gabfests? The fawning articles? All the fuss?

Never mind.

Brady’s back.

Did he ever really leave (not really)?

Tom Brady pulled a Brett Favre. Or a Michael Jordan, if you prefer. Or a George Foreman and Muhammad Ali (and every other memorable boxer). He retired and unretired.

Remember the guy who paid $518,268 at an auction to buy the ball that was used for his “final” touchdown pass?

He just lost a lot of money.

Like Ruth, Secretariat, Jordan, Gretzky before him, Brady was in a league of his own
How Tom Brady had three Hall of Fame careers in one

Remember the 24 free agents who were a threat to leave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for more money? As soon as Brady announced his “comeback,” his All-Pro free-agent center, Ryan Jensen, announced he would return to the team. His agent completed a deal on Sunday night, hours ahead of the official start of free agency. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, among many others, is likely to return, as well.

They should’ve known it would come to this. Actually, a lot of people did know. It was not a well-kept secret and the whole thing was something of a charade.

His retirement lasted 40 days.

Deflategate lasted longer than his retirement.

It was the length of a long vacation.

Years ago Brady said he wanted to play until he was 45. He’s going to do just that. He’s 44.

Brady says he has “unfinished business.” Presumably, the finished business is an eighth Super Bowl title. His team lost in the divisional round of the playoffs in December. If he continues to fall short of his perfect retirement ending, does this mean he’ll play until, say, 60?

Seven Super Bowl championships are not enough.

“These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands,” Brady wrote on Twitter. “That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business.”

The decline of the athlete (non-Tom Brady category)

What about that other unfinished business — you know, when he said he was retiring so he could (all together now) SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY. Where have we heard that before?


Let’s face it, more drama surrounds the NFL’s quarterback divas than the Kardashians. Was Russell Wilson unhappy enough to break up with the Seahawks? Were Aaron Rodgers’ feelings still hurt by the drafting of Jordan Love two years ago and would he hold it over the Packers’ heads forever to exact a cap-killing salary despite his terrible postseason record? Then there was the status of Carson Wentz and Kirk Cousins to fuss over, and, above all, would Brady return?

No one can question Brady’s ability to play at an advanced age. Last season he led the NFL in yards passing (5,316), touchdowns (43), completions (485) and attempts (719).

No one can question Brady’s ability to play at an advanced age. Last season he led the NFL in yards passing (5,316), touchdowns (43), completions (485) and attempts (719).

As recounted here in Brady’s retirement column about 40 days ago (please disregard it), he was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player at the age of 40. Five of his 10 Super Bowls came after the age of 37 — which is more than the combined total of Rodgers, Favre and Drew Brees for their entire careers; three of those occurred after the age of 40.

Brady will be welcomed back. Well, there’s always a party pooper in the crowd. Jon Cooper — a political gadfly — tweeted/virtue signaled, “Tom Brady is NOT retiring — the NFL is welcoming him back. Who else wishes the NFL would welcome back Colin Kaepernick instead?”

That old thing? Cooper needs some new material.

Almost no one who was close to Brady believed he was done. Not even after he said in February that he was “happy” with his decision. He dropped hints all along that he might change his mind. He said “never say never” when asked about a potential return. “I feel very good about my decision,” he said on a “Let’s Go!’ podcast a month ago. “I don’t know how I’ll feel six months from now.”

Now we know, if we ever doubted. The whole drama recalled the old inexplicable tradition of musicians leaving the stage after the “final number” when he and everyone in the audience knows very well he’ll be back for an encore.

Tom Brady is back for an encore.