Tom Brady

Tom Brady nearly made NFL comeback in May until surprise retirement party changed his plans

Brady made the revelation in a New Year's Eve Instagram post, joking that the party "kind of forced my hand"

Tom Brady
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady jogs onto the field during a ceremony honoring Brady at halftime of New England’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Maybe Tom Brady's friends should have waited a little longer to throw him a retirement party.

Brady revealed on social media Sunday that he nearly came out of retirement (again) in May until the party made that difficult to do.

"The only downside to 2023 was when I was about to unretire in May and my friends threw a surprise retirement party. Kind of forced my hand," Brady wrote with a laughing emoji at the end of a New Year's Eve Instagram post.

The seven-time Super Bowl champion first retired in 2022, only to return roughly six weeks later. He announced his retirement again in February after his 23rd NFL season, posting a video in which he said, "I'll get to the point right away. I'm retiring. For good."

After those definitive words, Brady's friends apparently started sending out invitations for a retirement party. If they hadn't, and if Brady was serious in his post about unretiring, he might have been playing this weekend.

But for which team?

There was offseason speculation about the 46-year-old Brady possibly making another return, whether that meant remaining with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or signing with his former AFC East division rival New York Jets before they dealt for Aaron Rodgers, or playing for a Las Vegas Raiders team that he has a minority ownership deal in place with.

But Brady decided to remain in retirement rather that chase an eighth ring and add to his NFL records, which includes the most completions (7,753), pass attempts (12,050), yards (89,214) and passing TDs (649) in league history.

Brady said in October on the SiriusXM podcast "Let's Go! with Tom Brady, Larry Fitzgerald and Jim Gray" that his family would not have been pleased with him making another return to the NFL.

"My parents would call, my kids would call. They'd kill me," Brady said. "I wouldn't be around by tonight. As I said, you're only allowed one un-retirement. And I've used it up."

So, the NFL is set to complete its first full season without a single snap being played by Tom Brady since 1999.   

Based on the message and photos in Brady's Instagram post, he doesn't seem to regret his retirement decision. 

"Looking back on 2023 grateful for every moment," he wrote. "Cherishing the highs, learning from the lows, and looking forward to what’s coming next. I’m blessed to have family and friends filled with so much love, joy, and compassion surrounding me. As you get older, you realize that this is really the only thing that matters, and I’ll never take these people for granted. Hug your kids, call your parents, tell your friends that you love them, and let’s all help make 2024 a kinder and happier year for everyone in our lives."

He concluded the post with a postscript in parentheses saying he nearly unretired.

But many commenters told Brady there's still time to make a comeback.

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