Tom Brady is one of only four quarterbacks to defeat all 32 NFL teams. With Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees, Brady is now a member of The 32-club.
The New England Patriots heartbreakingly lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night as kicker Nick Folk's 56-yard field goal attempt in the final minute of regulation bounced off the right upright to seal the win for Brady on his first return to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
After the game, NBC's on-field reporter Michele Tafoya asked Brady to describe his emotions on what could have been his last chance to play at Gillette Stadium.
He pushed back in a very typical Brady manner and noted that the Bucs and Patriots could lock horns again down the road before he calls it a career and retires.
If it was the final act, though, Brady reassured fans that they'd see plenty of him during retirement.
"I'll be up here quite a bit when it's all said and done. When I retire, I'm sure there will be a lot of time for—you know, I have a lot of friends up here, and it's a great place."
Robert Kraft wishes for a Brady return, but not as an adversary
Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, confessed this to the NFL Network before kickoff of Sunday night's game:
"I'm always rooting for Tommy, except when he's playing us. In the end, I hope and believe he'll come back here, and we'll give him his red jacket, and he'll retire a Patriot."
It would certainly be a fitting end to a legendary career, but it would be Brady's choice. Certainly neither Brady nor Kraft wanted to set fans' expectations too high, but the seven-time champion Brady seemed to leave the door open for a potential return to the Patriots.
Brady responded after being made aware of Kraft's comments.
"Are you offering me a one-day contract, or did he offer me that? He didn't offer me that, so… I still got some time left with the Bucs, and like I said, really enjoying that. I don't know what the future holds. Obviously could be an opportunity to come back here. We'll see. I feel like I'll always be a part of this community."
Brady's contract with the Buccaneers expires after the 2022 season, and the QB hinted at playing beyond that deal. However, the chances of an on-field reunion in Foxborough are slim given the capital the Patriots invested in Mac Jones, and given how the rookie is playing.
It seems unlikely the Patriots will bench him for a Brady return...at the moment.
Brady and the Patriots are simply on different timelines right now. He is enjoying his time with Tampa Bay as they look to repeat themselves as Super Bowl Champions. Meanwhile, New England is taking the proper steps to develop Mac Jones.
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There is a likely chance that Brady may retire from the Patriots by signing a one-day deal, which would be a fitting end to his twenty years in New England.