A look back at Tom Brady’s roller coaster 2022: From career decisions to personal drama
It’s safe to say that no active NFL player has spent more time in the headlines than Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
After moving on from the New England Patriots following a 20-year career and six Super Bowls, the future Hall of Famer joined the Bucs in 2020, winning his seventh ring and taking the team to back-to-back playoff appearances.
Questions surrounding Brady’s age and plans for retirement plagued his 2021 season but no one could expect the events that would unfold – both on and off the field – in the coming year.
Here’s a look back at Brady’s 2022.
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TOM BRADY RETIRES … BRIEFLY
Talk of retirement was the highlight of Brady’s 2021 season as the veteran signal–caller fielded questions about it at seemingly every press conference. The rumor mill began heating up following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ NFC Divisional round loss to the eventual Super Bowl champions.
Brady seemed noncommittal but then on Feb. 1, one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game finally called it quits after 22 seasons in the NFL.
“I have always believed the sport of football is an ‘all-in’ proposition – if a 100% competitive commitment isn’t there you won’t’ succeed, and success is what I love so much about our game,” he said in an Instagram post. “There is a physical, mental, and emotional challenge EVERY single day that has allowed me to maximize my highest potential. And I have tried my very best these past 22 years. There are no shortcuts to success on the field or in life.”
“This is difficult for me to write but here it goes: I am not going to make that competitive commitment anymore,” he continued. “I have loved my NFL career and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention.”
THE GOAT RETURNS
Less than two months after shocking the sports world with news of his retirement, Brady decided he had enough downtime and just like that, the GOAT was back.
“These past two months I have realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it’s not now,” Brady wrote in a brief Instagram post. “I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. Without them, none of this is possible.”
“I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. We have unfinished business.”
A NEW REGIME
Brady’s decision to return to the game had sparked something within Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and on March 30, he officially announced his decision to step down, handing the reins over to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
“The simple answer is that I have accomplished more than I ever dreamed I could during this incredible coaching journey. Winning Super Bowl LV at our home stadium, with my mom and family in attendance, was really the last item I wanted to check off my career bucket list. For me, this is about more than just trying to add more wins to my coaching record,” he wrote in a statement, obtained by G3 Box News Digital.
“Tom was kind of the key,” he told another outlet. “When Tom decided to come back … and all of these guys back now, it’s the perfect timing for me just to go into the front office and still have the relationships that I love.”
Arians remained with the team as the Bucs’ senior football adviser and fans would certainly not see the last of him as the 2022 season unfolded.
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Reports surfaced in April that alleged Brady had planned to join the Miami Dolphins as a minority owner after announcing his retirement in February and with it would bring coach Sean Payton with him, but the Brian Flores racial discrimination lawsuit and allegations of tanking threw the scheme into disarray.
Just days later, Bucs general manager Jason Licht dismissed the reports as “chatter”
“We’re focused on putting our team together here with the draft and we’re all excited. We’re all in lockstep here – Tom, Todd [Bowles], myself, Byron [Leftwich], the entire coaching staff on this season,” Licht said at the time.
Brady addressed the reports during a press conference in June but did not deny the claims outright.
“I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people, as I’ve had for the last three or four years in my career about different opportunities when I’m done playing football,” Brady said. “I kind of made a decision of what I’d like to do. I’ll get to be in the game of football.”
THE NFL WEIGHS IN…
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was suspended by the league and was docked two draft picks following the NFL’s lengthy investigation into tampering allegations between 2019-2022 that involved improper conversations with Tom Brady and Sean Payton and accusations that former head coach Brian Flores was instructed to lose games intentionally.
The six-month probe led by former U.S. Attorney and SEC Chair Mary Jo White found that the Dolphins violated the league’s anti-tampering policy following “impermissible communications” with Brady and the former New Orleans Saints coach via his agent between August 2019 and January 2022.
The organization was also ordered to pay a $1.5 million fine as a result of the NFL’s probe and Ross was barred from all league meetings prior to the annual meeting in 2023 and removed from all league committees indefinitely.
Brady did not face any discipline following the investigation.
Brady was excused from a practice in early August for “personal, non-football reasons” just days after previously being excused from training camp for a personal matter.
On Aug. 11, Bowles told reporters that Brady was expected to miss more time to “deal with some personal things,” but noted that his absences were previously discussed with the team.
“This is something we talked about before training camp started,” Bowles said, at the time. “We allotted this time because he wanted to get in and get chemistry with the guys and go through two weeks of training camp, knowing he wasn’t going to play the first two games [of the preseason].”
He eventually returned in time for the final preseason game of the year against the Indianapolis Colts and had a vague response for questions about his absence.
“It’s all personal. You know everyone’s got different situations they’re dealing with, so we all have very unique challenges to our life,” he said. “I’m 45 years old, man, there’s a lot of s— going on. Just got to figure out life the best you can. It’s a continuous process.”
MARRIAGE ISSUES TAKE THE SPOTLIGHT
Despite winning the first two games of season, reports began surfacing that Brady and his wife, Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen, were experiencing marital issues tied to his return to the NFL and living separately as they worked through their issues.
Bündchen shared her concerns regarding her husband returning to the sport in Elle’s October issue.
“Obviously, I have my concerns. This is a very violent sport, and I have my children, and I would like him to be more present,” she told the outlet. “I have definitely had those conversations with him over and over again. But, ultimately, I feel that everybody has to make a decision that works for [them]. He needs to follow his joy, too.”
In early October, reports revealed that the couple had hired divorce attorneys and were working on how to divide their assets.
THE UNEXPECTED SEASON
Amid his issues off the field, Brady also battled through scoring issues on the field.
Following a 27-22 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 27, the Bucs fell to 3-5 on the season and Brady fell two games below .500 for the first time in his 23-year NFL career. It also marked his first three-game losing streak since 2002.
“We’ve struggled pretty much at everything. Red area. Third down. Run game. Two-point plays. Backed up. Start of (the) third quarter,” Brady said postgame. “Just didn’t play well enough to win. Give them credit. They played good. Certainly better than we did.”
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Brady and Bündchen announced their divorce just days after the Bucs’ loss to the Ravens, officially ending their 13-year marriage.
“In recent days, my wife and I finalized our divorce from one another after 13 years of marriage,” Brady wrote. “We arrived at this decision amicably and with gratitude for the time we spent together. We are blessed with beautiful and wonderful children who will continue to be the center of our world in every way.”
BRADY’S HOMECOMING ENDS IN HEARTBREAK
The Bucs’ disappointing season hit a new low in Tampa Bay’s Week 14 game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Rookie Brock Purdy, the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, defeated the veteran quarterback in his home state in stunning fashion – becoming the first quarterback to beat Brady in their first career start.
Brady reportedly left the stadium without showering, telling the San Francisco Chronicle’s Michael Silver: “Some things I don’t give a f— about, at this point.”
“We just have not played consistently well very often,” Brady said after the loss. “We haven’t played it for four quarters. Have we played it a little bit? At times, not today at all, but some games we play well for five minutes and don’t play well for 55 minutes. Some games we played pretty well for half.”
“We just have not played consistently well for a game.”
THE PLAYOFF PUSH
Despite throwing four turnovers and blowing a 17-point lead over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15, the Bucs still have a chance of winning the NFC South.
With a 5-9 record before their Christmas Day matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, the Bucs will likely make the playoffs, giving Brady more than enough space to rewrite his 2022 season.