After limping into the playoffs with an 8-9 record, the Bucs went out with a whimper in their Wild Card loss to Dallas earlier this month, spelling an anticlimactic end to the most tumultuous season of Tom Brady’s career. Despite throwing for 4,694 passing yards, third-most behind Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert, this wasn’t the Brady of old, looking like a completely different player from the one that led Tampa Bay to Super Bowl glory just two short years ago. While many attributed his struggles to aging, experiencing diminished strength and athleticism, among other symptoms of decline, Brady’s highly publicized divorce from Gisele Bundchen apparently took a much bigger toll on him than any of us knew, resulting in a drastic 15-pound weight loss.
Brady’s frustration and angst were evident throughout the season, walking a tightrope between his broken marriage and commanding a struggling offense in desperate need of repair. “Brady knows his own mental focus was gone for a bulk of the season. His physical stature, faced with 15 pounds of weight loss, was also in peril,” said Jeff Darlington of Brady’s harrowing season, describing the 45-year-old as “bruised both physically and mentally.” “He felt at times like his preseason anguish ended his chances at success before the regular season even started.”
It's unclear what the future holds for Brady, an impending free agent who could entertain retirement this offseason, as he did briefly in 2022. Darlington reports at least two teams are interested in signing Brady, should he decide to return for what would be his 24th NFL season, though, as evidenced by his combative response to Jim Gray on his podcast earlier this week (a bizarre exchange that many presume was staged), the three-time MVP isn’t ready to make that determination.
Given the circumstances, it’s remarkable Brady played as well as he did this season, leading the Bucs to their third straight playoff appearance despite a new coach and a beat-up offensive line that, for much of the year, wasn’t on the same page. As much as Brady tried to downplay issues in his personal life, quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen could feel his pain, “blindsided” by his 13-year marriage coming to an end. “I worried about him. He lost that weight. It was very stressful,” Christensen told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “To watch Tom have to leave training camp for 11 days to take care of some personal problems, it was heartbreaking stuff.”
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