I was bowling on Sunday night when my one buddy said, “The G.OA.T is back!”
My pal was referring to Tom Brady, of course, the long-time Steelers tormentor who, after retiring just weeks earlier, took to social media that evening to announce he had a change of heart and will be back in 2022 to play in his 23rd NFL season.
“These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands,” said Brady in a tweet on Sunday evening. “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 LFG.”
Unfinished business? How much more business does that man have to get done?
Anyway, before I realized he was going to be back with the Buccaneers, who hold his rights through the 2022 season, I was hoping Brady was quickly coming out of retirement to sign with another nondescript NFL franchise—like maybe the Texans—and be like this Super Bowl Santa who goes around giving Lombardi Trophies to good little boys and girls all around the football world.
So why would I be excited about Brady coming back? I mean, my God, haven’t I suffered enough as a Steelers fan? Is this the very definition of Stockholm syndrome, where hostages develop a psychological bond with their captors?
I don’t know, maybe it’s more like how one craves the excitement of that crazy ex. Sure, you might get your car keyed, but things are just too boring without them around.
As a Steeler fan, I now cannot wait until the Steelers face the Buccaneers in 2022. Just when I thought it was over. Just when I thought Brady would be out of my hair forever, I’m going to have to awkwardly deal with him again at least one more time. And who will be on my arm now that Ben Roethlisberger has retired? Mitch Trubisky? Will Brady be sincere while wishing Mitch and me the best, or will he laugh as soon as we leave the room?
In all seriousness, I think the main reason I’m excited about the return of Brady—even though I’m a huge Steelers fan who hates his guts--is because he’s basically the last NFL player from my generation. As someone who is about to turn 50, it’s nice to know that a player who is about to turn 45 is still capable of going out there and doing damage at the highest level of professional football. It’s like, if Brady can still terrorize NFL defensive backs with his 45-year old arm, I can still terrorize co-ed recreational volleyball players with my 50-year old spike.
Also, Brady has always been a compelling figure, no matter how much we might try to deny it.
As a huge television fan, I often laugh at folks who want reunions of their favorite shows or even reboots. But who am I kidding? On some level, I’d go nuts for the return of a beat-up Roethlisberger or even the recently-enshrined Troy Polamalu.
Sure, it would be like watching a reboot of Burn Notice without Jeffrey Donovan returning, but I’d still tune in, even with his old money-launderer buddy—Barry—in the starring role.
I’ve found that it’s harder to let go as you get older, which I’m sure has always been a struggle for professional athletes, hence the reason why most of them hold on until they’ve got nothing left.
And that’s really what Brady was talking about when he said he still has unfinished business. Yeah, on an intellectual level, Brady was referring to a championship, but emotionally, he’s just not ready to give up being a football player.
Would nearly bringing his team back from a 27-3 deficit against the soon-to-be Super Bowl champions have been a badass way for Brady to end his NFL career? Sure, but it would be even more epic to end things with another Lombardi Trophy raised in the air.
Will that actually happen, or will Brady, like most professional athletes throughout history, stick around until he’s the proverbial shell of his former self?
I don’t know, but I’m certainly going to keep watching.