Tom Brady said on Monday that despite announcing his retirement, he knew he could still handle another season in the NFL and that he began to think about a return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when free agency began last month.
"I knew my body, physically, could still do what it could do and obviously I have a love for the game, I think I'll always have a love for the game," Brady told ESPN. "I do think physically I'll be able to do it. I just felt like there was still a place for me on the field."
When he retired on Feb. 1, he spent time with his wife and kids and reflected on the decision to leave football behind. He started to get the feeling that he should still be playing.
He spoke with people he had built relationships with in Tampa, including former coach Bruce Arians, and eventually decided that he wasn't done just yet. Brady said the love for his teammates and the excitement about the challenge the organization will face as defensive coordinator Todd Bowles took over.
But, the way the season ended -- with a 30-27 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional playoff game -- just didn't sit right with him.
"At the end of the day, I just love the competition on the field," said Brady, who spoke to ESPN a day before the launch of his new golf collection through his performance apparel brand, BRADY. "And last year was a very bitter ending to a season and we've got to make a lot of corrections to try to improve and put ourselves in a better position to succeed moving forward."
Brady doesn't know how much longer he has left to play football, but with his body feeling up to the task, he didn't want to sit on the sidelines and miss out on another chance at a successful season with his teammates.
"I know I don't have a lot left, I really do. I know I'm at the end of my career," Brady said. "I wish you could go forever, but it's just not and football comes at too high of a cost now. My kids are getting older and it's just getting harder and harder to miss these things.
"But, I wanted to give myself and my teammates and our organization another incredible opportunity to accomplish something that we'd all be very proud of."