Inside Tom Brady’s rapid return to the NFL from retirement

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This was already The Week That Shook The NFL To The Core. A player was suspended for a year for gambling on NFL games. Two hours apart, Aaron Rodgers stayed and Russell Wilson left. Carson Wentz was traded to his third team in 14 months. Deshaun Watson took a giant step toward being traded. Khalil Mack’s a Charger, Joe Buck’s on ESPN, Amari Cooper’s a Brown, Kirk Cousins is filthy rich—again.

Nice offseason.

Then, on the seventh day, the NFL did not rest. It had an earthquake.

At 7:13 Sunday night, Tom Brady unretired.

Legends, totally healthy, totally smitten with their profession, don’t stop loving their jobs because history says they can’t be great at 45. Don’t complicate this. A man who loves his job wanted to keep doing it. That’s exactly what happened here.

That doesn’t mean the world wasn’t shocked Sunday night when the news broke. Little Steven of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band tweeted: “Holy sh–! Brady’s back!”

Brady unretiring after 40 days as a man of leisure wasn’t a shock to all. There was quiet chatter that Brady was having second thoughts after his Feb. 1 retirement, and coach Bruce Arians and GM Jason Licht were using quiet diplomacy with him in the past couple of weeks. Licht and Arians did it the smart way: no pressure, take your time, do what makes you happy, we’ll always have a spot for you. When I met with Licht at the NFL Scouting Combine nine days ago, I sensed he thought the Bucs had a chance at Brady returning.

“Always thought there was a chance,” Arians told me in a text Sunday night. “Slim, but had fingers crossed the last few weeks.”

Meanwhile, Brady took advantage of that leisure time to figure out his life. He and his family went to Costa Rica, to New York, and to England (most recently) to watch Manchester United. On Saturday, Man U star Cristiano Ronaldo scored three goals in a 3-2 win over Tottenham, and afterward, cameras caught him asking Brady, “All good? You’re finished, right?” Brady made a face like, Ummmm, well, not really. And a day later, Brady made it official.

So what happened? I think once Brady found out his family backed him doing what he truly wanted to do—play or not play—he figured he had clearance to make the decision he wanted to make. That decision, his good friend and podcast partner Jim Gray told me Sunday night, was rooted in how he feels about football, and how he feels, period.

“I don’t think Tom wanted to be sitting there, out of the game and watching football in September and thinking, ‘I’m as good as those guys. I can still do this. I still love it,’ “ Gray said.

Logically, the world wondered what his wife, Gisele Bundchen, thought of her husband continuing to play. Apparently, she felt pretty good. “Here we go again! Let’s go Bucs!” she said on social media.

Go back to the end of the season. Brady led the NFL in passing yards and touchdown passes, the Bucs went 13-4, and, against the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams in the playoffs, Brady led a furious comeback from 24 points down to tie the game with 42 seconds left. Tampa Bay lost 30-27 on a last-second field goal.

“It takes a whole lot to turn off that love of the game,” Gray said Sunday night. “He would not play if he didn’t think he could win the Super Bowl.”

There was a subplot in the Brady return Sunday. It revolved around Brady and free-agent Bucs center Ryan Jensen.

Jensen’s agent, Mike McCartney, had been engaged in talks to try to get Jensen, 30, re-signed before the legal tampering began today at noon ET. But it was a slog. McCartney wanted $13 million per year for Jensen, minimum, to stay in Tampa, and the cap-strapped Bucs weren’t going there. But Sunday afternoon, Brady reached out to Jensen. What he said exactly, I don’t know. But it was something like, I’m coming back and I need you and we gotta get your deal done. Maybe Brady said he pushed the Bucs to be sure they got a deal done with Jensen.

Brady doesn’t have a lot of must-haves, or guys he feels close to and really wants to have at his side. Tight end Ron Gronkowski is one, a clear number one. Jensen, on the Bucs, is two. Particularly with the uncertainty at guard in Tampa with the retirement of Pro Bowler Ali Marpet, getting his center back was a must for Brady.

So Brady calling Jensen, and Brady coming back, did two things: It motivated Jensen to forgo the market, where McCartney thought he might be able to get a $15-million-a-year average. And it motivated the Bucs—clearly after Brady telling them he wanted Jensen back—to up the offer to the veteran center to get the deal done Sunday night, before McCartney could begin playing one offer against another today.

The happy result for player and team: Jensen signed for three years and $39 million (in Florida, with the plus of no state tax). He didn’t want to move, and now gets to stay with Brady and the Bucs. And Tampa ensures the return of both tackles and a very good center who Brady valued greatly. Win-win.

Regarding Brady’s other priorities: Gronkowski’s free, and his friends think he’ll return if Brady asks. Wide receiver Chris Godwin, a Brady favorite, is rehabbing a torn ACL while on the franchise tag. I’d expect the Brady return to influence Godwin’s decision to sign the tag or do a longer deal. He loves Brady.

The collateral effects of Brady returning are many.

• The NFL schedule just got an infusion of prime-time and doubleheader-window games. Howard Katz’s schedule team has been working on the schedule daily since mid-January, and working on the premise that the Tampa Bay quarterback was going to be someone other than Brady. Without Brady, Tampa Bay might have been in prime time maybe three times. With Brady, Tampa will max out its prime-time appearances. (The max is six prime-time games scheduled to start the year, with the prospect of a team being flexed into a seventh.)

• The matchups. Look at the made-for-TV games Brady just made happen (assuming he stays healthy). The Super Bowl champ Rams at Brady and Tampa. The fifth Brady-Aaron Rodgers meeting, the fourth Brady-Patrick Mahomes meeting, the first Brady-Joe Burrow meeting. Brady, one more time at the Steelers. Brady, one more time at the beloved team of his youth, the Niners. What an incredible group of games.

• Happiest people, outside of Tampa, might be in Munich. The Bucs, with maybe Kyle Trask playing quarterback, might have been 4-5 by the time they played the first-ever NFL game in Germany in mid-November. But now, with Brady the likely starter, that game will be a mega-event in Europe.

Late Sunday night, a prominent agent texted me gee-whizzing about the night and the week. “This is fantasy football in 3D!” he texted. “This week defined and redefined what the NFL is today. And the fans love it.”

Big events in the NFL have a natural megaphone with the cacophonous media covering it. What Brady did fit right in to the 24/7/365 world the league has created. With opening day six months away, appetites are whetted. Brady’s too.

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

What to know about the 2023 Pro Bowl: Dates, how to watch/live stream info, AFC, NFC coaches, competition schedule, and more

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The 2023 NFL Pro Bowl will take place over the course of two days at Allegiant Stadium–home of the Las Vegas Raiders–in Paradise, Nevada. The excitement begins on Thursday, February 2 as NFL fan-favorites compete in a brand-new skills challenge featuring the following events: Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball, Lightning Round, Longest Drive, Precision Passion, and Best Catch.

Sunday, February 5 will feature the following: the Best Catch Finale, Gridiron Gauntlet, Kick Tack Toe, Move the Chains, and three seven-on-seven non-contact Flag football games between the league’s best players.

See below for additional information on how to watch the 2023 Pro Bowl as well as answers to all of your frequently asked questions.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

Who are the coaches for the 2023 Pro Bowl?

AFC Coaches:

  • Peyton Manning – Head Coach
  • Ray Lewis – Defensive Coordinator
  • Diana Flores – Offensive Coordinator

NFC Coaches:

  • Eli Manning – Head Coach
  • Demarcus Ware – Defensive Coordinator
  • Vanita Krouch – Offensive Coordinator

How will the 2023 Pro Bowl be different from previous editions of the event?

Rather than the traditional tackle football game, this year’s Pro Bowl will debut a skills competition and a non-contact flag football game.

How will scoring work?

According to the NFL, points will be calculated in the following way:

  • The winning conference of each skill competition earns three points towards their team’s overall score, with 24 total points available across the eight skills events.
  • The winning conference from each of the first two Flag football games on Sunday will earn six points for their team, for a total of 12 available points.
  • Points from the skills competitions and first two Flag games will be added together and will be the score at the beginning of the third and final Flag game, which will determine the winning conference for The Pro Bowl Games.

How to watch the 2023 Pro Bowl:

  • Where: Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada
  • When: Thursday, February 2 (7:00 PM ET) and Sunday, February 5 (3:00 PM ET)
  • TV Channel: ESPN, ABC, and Disney XD

When is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 takes place on Sunday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

Where is Super Bowl 2023?

Super Bowl 2023 will be contested at State Farm Stadium–home of the Arizona Cardinals– in Glendale, Arizona.

What teams are playing in Super Bowl 2023?

The Philadelphia Eagles will face the Kansas City Chiefs marking the first time since 2017 that both top seeds qualified for the Super Bowl.


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Super Bowl food 2023: Appetizer, entrée, and dessert ideas for Super Bowl LVII inspired by the Eagles and Chiefs

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As the countdown continues toward Super Bowl LVII, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs are getting their game plans set. But while they go over their plays, the rest of America goes over their menus in preparation for the big day. When it comes to the Super Bowl, everything is always the best — the best teams, the best performers and, of course, the best food.

But how can you impress your party in the kitchen while showing support for your favorite team? Let’s take a look at some iconic food from each of the Super Bowl team cities to prepare for Super Bowl LVII.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl LVII: Date, location, how to watch

Philadelphia Super Bowl food

Crabfries

Why have plain old fries when you could have crabfries? That’s exactly what Pete Ciarrocchi, the CEO of the legendary Philadelphia restaurant Chickie and Pete’s, said one day when creating this intriguing concoction.

While the name may be misleading, crabfries do not contain any actual crab, but rather a blend of spices and Old Bay seasoning that allow the dish to take on a subtle seafood flavor. Topped with a creamy, cheesy dipping sauce, the crinkle-cut fries are sure to take your taste buds to the next level.

Cheesesteak sloppy joes

It simply isn’t Philly without a cheesesteak. Keep it casual in your kitchen on Super Bowl Sunday with Katie Lee Biegel’s Philly Cheesesteak sloppy joes, an easy way to rep the Birds.

Can’t get enough of the cheesesteak? Bring some more Philly specials to the table with this cheesesteak dip, the perfect way to amp up your appetizer game and leave party guests feeling like they just took a trip to the City of Brotherly Love.

RELATED: Rob Gronkowski predicts Eagles to win Super Bowl LVII

Water ice

Is the action of the game heating up? Cool down with a classic Philly treat, water ice. First originating in Bensalem, Pennsylvania in 1984, the icy dessert is now sold in over 600 stores nationwide. The original Rita’s Water Ice shop, however, still remains open for business.

You can even show a little extra passion for the Birds by whipping up this green apple variation, sure to leave you refreshed and ready for the Lombardi.

Kansas City Super Bowl food

Cheese slippers

If you’re looking for a classy, yet authentic appetizer to bring to the table, there’s no better fit than the cheese slipper. This ciabatta loaf baked with melty cheeses and topped with seasonal vegetables and herbs has Kansas City natives hooked.

While the bread is typically baked to perfection by local shops, test your own skill level with this gourmet slipper bread recipe that you can complete with the mouth-watering toppings of your choice.

RELATED: How many Super Bowls have the Chiefs been to, won?

BBQ burnt ends

It’s rare to hear the words Kansas City without barbeque following short after. If you’re looking to impress your guests with your Super Bowl food spread, get out to the grill and start showing off.

While many cities in America know how to cook up some excellent BBQ, the combination of the sweet flavors and mouth-watering sauce has made Kansas City a hub for barbeque lovers for decades.

BBQ burnt ends, while a bit time-consuming, are  well worth a little elbow grease. The dish is also one of the few in Kansas City with a distinct origin story. The meal first found its creation at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque, a legendary African American restaurant in KC. Bryant originally made the burnt ends from the trimmings of pork belly, but since then, BBQ lovers have made incredible bites out of many styles of meat.

And if you’re feeling extra ambitious, try fixing up some classic Kansas City sides to pair with your entrée to perfection.

RELATED: What to know about Rihanna, the Super Bowl LVII halftime performer

Chiefs chocolate chip cookies

While there is no specific dessert that defines the Heart of America, you can still show your Kansas City pride with these ever-colorful Chiefs chocolate chip cookies.

Make sure to have your food dye handy, because the red and yellow hue of these cookies are sure to show everyone whose side you are on.

Or, if you’re feeling artistic, design an eye-catching Chiefs jersey out of the fan-favorite rice krispie treats. Whether you make Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce or Chris Jones, you’ll have the tastiest Super Bowl jerseys around.

How to watch the Super Bowl 2023 – Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs:

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