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A moment with Ronaldo made Brady fans think he was coming out of retirement

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the team's NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa, Fla.
Lynne Sladky
/
AP
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the team's NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa, Fla.

Before Tom Brady announced that he will return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his 23rd NFL season, a quick exchange with Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo was enough to fuel speculation that Brady might not really be retiring.

Ronaldo, 37, had just moments earlier scored a hat-trick against Tottenham Hotspur to become FIFA's all-time top scorer with 807 goals.

After the match, the two met on the pitch, where Ronaldo was filmed asking the seven-time Super Bowl champion "You're finished, right?"

Although Brady's response is inaudible, his wry smile was enough to create a buzz on social media that he might be coming back.

The next day he did just that. "These past two months I've realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it's not now," he said on Twitter.

Tom Brady leads in many of the league's statistics

The 44-year-old will remain the oldest active NFL player and the league's all-time leader in passing yards (84,520), touchdown passes (624), completions (7,263), regular season wins (243), playoff wins (35) and Super Bowl MPVs (five).

He is certain to add to those eye-popping numbers next season, leading a team that won the NFC South and narrowly lost in the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl champions the Los Angeles Rams.

Brady would announce his retirement days after that loss. Now, less than two months later, he's ready to make his return.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski, left, and quarterback Tom Brady celebrate after the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa, Fla., in 2021.
Steve Luciano / AP
/
AP
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski, left, and quarterback Tom Brady celebrate after the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa, Fla., in 2021.

Although he the current leader in many statistical categories, Brady still has a few years to go if he wants to become the oldest player in NFL history. George Blanda currently holds that record, after retiring in 1976 at the age of 48. Brady will turn 45 in August, before the season begins.

Will he be able to break that record? Only time will tell. His production has never been in question. Brady hasn't seen a dip in his numbers, regardless of his age.

Since coming to Tampa Bay, he's taken the team to a Super Bowl victory in 2020 and led the NFL in both passing yards (5,316) and touchdown passes (43) during the 2021 season. Those are both Buccaneers franchise records and make Brady the oldest player in league history to ever win a passing title.

A historic football has almost certainly lost value

Brady's last touchdown pass this past season was to wide receiver Mike Evans during the playoff loss to the Rams, cutting the Rams' lead from 14 to seven and keeping Tampa Bay's hopes alive. Evans threw the ball into the stands, not thinking it could have been Brady's final touchdown pass of his career.

That ball was auctioned off for $518,000 on Sunday, and that same day the value of that ball almost certainly plummeted with Brady's announcement that "we have unfinished business."

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was at fault for the play that resulted in the touchdown, responded to the news by tweeting "THANK YOU! Throw that last touchdown on somebody else."

The news of Brady's un-retirement has once again made the Buccaneers Super Bowl favorites, but the road to the championship isn't guaranteed. Tampa Bay will face a tough sled of games this upcoming season.

Not only is there the looming rematch against the Super Bowl defending champions the Los Angeles Rams, but the Bucs will also face the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals and their upstart star quarterback Joe Burrow as well.

Will Brady pass the torch at the end of the season? We'll have to wait and see. But it's clear that we'll have one more year of watching one of the greatest players ever to take the field.

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