Do I Feel Sad for Tom Brady Now?

Tom Brady is finally retiring Photo: Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

He’s doing it! He’s actually doing it: Tom Brady is retiring, and while we have been here before, this time he swears it’s “for good.” I believe him, seeing as he has lost basically everything — his family, his bitcoins (?), his shit, to say nothing of the season — to his decision to keep on quarterbacking well into his 40s and possibly forever.

“I know the process was a pretty big deal last time, so when I woke up this morning I figured I’d just press record and let you guys know first,” Brady, the NFL’s oldest player at 45, said in a video filmed on a gray beach and posted to his social-media accounts. “I won’t be long winded. You only get one super-emotional retirement essay, and I used mine up last year, so.”

Precisely 365 days ago, on February 1, 2022, Brady shared eight slides of text to Instagram, explaining that success rests on “a 100% competitive commitment,” and he was now going to “focus [his] time and energy on other things that require [his] attention.” Maybe he meant his exceedingly drab clothing line; maybe he meant his podcast; maybe he meant his wife, Gisele Bündchen, who harbored concerns over her husband’s determination to keep playing a brain-damaging sport for way too long while she mostly put her career on pause to raise their three kids — first in Boston, then in Tampa. Maybe he meant those three kids, for whom he was allegedly not so present, choosing to devote himself instead to the game. Anyway, his attention didn’t hold for long.

On March 13, Brady took it all back, saying in a tweet that his “place is still on the field and not in the stands,” then embarking on the worst season of his life, both professionally and personally. Gisele stopped showing up, and then she moved out. Rumors circulated that she was “done,” saging her car of his sweat smell, and that even his friends were annoyed with him for refusing to see her point. Then she divorced him, and he didn’t contest it but instead began blowing up at his teammates, at coaches, at referees, at his podcast partner. Meanwhile Gisele was taking the kids to Brazil for Christmas while he sat alone in his Phoenix hotel room. Now she is living it up in Costa Rica with her jujitsu instructor while he has no one to text but Ron DeSantis and (arguably) no one to blame but himself.

And so now here we are. Brady, against a backdrop of Florida condos, is thanking his teammates, his fans, his friends, his family, and even his competitors and insisting that he “wouldn’t change a thing.” Whatever gets you through, buddy, only after revisiting the whole slog, I find myself grappling with unexpected feelings about a man who won’t even eat a single strawberry. Do I feel sort of bad for Tom Brady even though sources close to him have said the reason all of this has been hard for him is that he’s unaccustomed to not getting his way? Do I feel sympathy for someone who has not infrequently behaved like a baby, because it must suck to have your life fall apart so publicly, even if the collapse comes from a failure to compromise with your loved ones and simply retire, bitch? Do I feel like this is really about one man’s hubris and headstrong self-interest? Many things can be true at once.

Do I Feel Sad for Tom Brady Now?