Tom Brady 'happy' with decision to retire from NFL, but 'never say never'

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tom Brady is "happy" with his decision to retire and is looking forward to "doing things other than playing" football, but he also said "never say never" when asked about potentially returning to the NFL next season.

"I'm just going to take things as they come. I think that's the best way to put it, and I don't think anything, you know, you never say never," Brady told Jim Gray on their "Let's Go!" podcast Monday. "At the same time, I know that ... I feel very good about my decision. I don't know how I'll feel six months from now.

"I try to make the best possible decision I can in the moment, which I did this last week. And, again, I think it's not looking to reverse course. I'm definitely not looking to do that. But in the same time, I think you have to be realistic that you never know what challenges there are going to be in life. Again, I loved playing. I'm looking forward to doing things other than playing. That's as honest as I can be with you there."

The comments by Brady, who would still be under contract with the Bucs if he did opt to return in 2022, came six days after he announced he was retiring. They also came on the one-year anniversary of him winning the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brady, 44, said his decision to retire after 22 NFL seasons wasn't about age or injury. He underwent surgery to repair a torn MCL in his left knee last offseason -- an injury he played through for the entirety of his first season with the Bucs in 2020. He came back in 2021 to produce one of the best seasons of his career, leading the NFL in passing attempts, completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns as the Bucs won the NFC South title.

Tampa Bay, the NFC's No. 2 seed, lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Brady said family played a large role in his decision. He and wife Gisele Bundchen will celebrate 13 years of marriage this month, and Brady has said in the past that she has turned down numerous professional opportunities to care for their family. They have two children, Benjamin, 12, and Vivian, 9. Brady also has a 14-year-old son, Jack -- whom he said he tries to see as much as possible -- from a previous relationship with Bridget Moynahan, who lives in New York.

"I think the choice is, everything certainly comes at a cost, and the cost is, 'What am I missing out on other aspects of my life?'" Brady said in his first public comments about his decision to retire. "And things that are, as you get older, you experience things that are outside of the sport that demand the level of attention and energy that football has always gotten. And it's time for me to commit to those types of things.

"A lot of things have come up over the years in the last 10 years of my life -- as I've got closer to this decision this last week -- and it, just in the end, felt like it was just the right time to do it. I think for anyone who loves the sport like I have over the years, it'll always be in my heart, as it should be, because I've committed a lot of time and energy and hours to it. But at the same time, there's a time and place for everything. I've had an amazing time and place doing it, and I'm just ... I am really excited for what's ahead, and I don't know what that means or where it takes me, but I know that it'll be fun and exciting and I'm going to make the most of whatever opportunities present themselves as I go forward."

Brady also has a growing list of professional ventures outside of football that he can now focus on: a global wellness brand in TB12 that he co-founded with longtime trainer Alex Guerrero in 2013, a multiplatform content company, an NFT platform and an apparel line that was launched earlier this year.

"I've been to the Kentucky Derby a lot. So I look at those horses and they have the blinders on and you literally are just running full speed as fast as you can for basically the entire season, and there's no time to look right or left," Brady said. "And there's a lot of things that are happening in your life that, because you don't look right or left, you're still looking straight ahead, that you miss some things.

"There just comes a time for all of us where we've got to decide what we want to look [at] going forward. I can always look at the past and look at all the teams we've had and all the success and stuff and the amazing relationships and all the great teammates. I've seen so many great players retire over the years.

"The game just goes on, and it should. It's going to outlast everybody. But I was fortunate to do it for a long time, for 22 years. I did it at the highest level, and I had the best teammates and mentors and coaches and friends. And, again, it's just pretty simple: It's just, there's time for other things. I need to make time for other things in my life."