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

Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes: All-time QB matchups, records, stats

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It’s Patrick Mahomes vs Tom Brady this Sunday night on NBC and Peacock as the Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) head to Raymond James Stadium to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) in a rematch of Super Bowl 55. See below for additional information on how to watch the big game between the greatest of all time and the heir to the throne.

RELATED:  How to watch Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers – TV, live stream info, preview for Sunday Night Football game

Mahomes is currently in his fifth season as the Chiefs starting quarterback. The 2019 Super Bowl MVP signed a 10-year, $450 million extension in July 2020, which was the richest contract in American sports history by total value. Over the last four seasons (2018-2021), Mahomes has led the league in both passing yards (18,707) and touchdown passes (151). The 27-year-old looks to lead the Chiefs to their seventh straight AFC West Title. Kansas City is the only team to ever win six consecutive AFC West titles, which is tied for the 3rd-longest division title streak of any team in NFL history.

At 45 years old Tom Brady, who already holds 7 Super Bowl titles–the most in NFL history, is currently playing in his 23rd NFL season–one that many thought he wouldn’t see after an unpredictable offseason filled with rumorsretirement, and unretirement. But the greatest of all time is back–this time without the comfort of his longtime trusted TE Rob Gronkowski–and is not only facing the challenge of playing with a banged-up offensive line but is also adjusting to the turnover at the WR and TE positions from this offseason.

RELATED: NFL QBs with most Super Bowl wins – Where does Tom Brady rank ahead of Super Bowl 2023

This Sunday night’s game will mark the sixth meeting between Mahomes and Brady. The previous five matchups have been both high-stakes and high-scoring affairs as Brady holds a slight advantage over Mahomes. Here are all of their head-to-head matchups.

Every past matchup between Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes (3-2 overall record):

  1. Oct. 14, 2018 (Week 6) – Patriots defeated the Chiefs 43-40. Brady threw for 340 yards and 1 TD. Mahomes threw for 352 yards, 4 TD, and 2 INT.
  2. Jan. 20, 2019 (AFC Championship Game) – Patriots defeated the Chiefs 37-31, in overtime. Brady threw 348 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INT. Mahomes finished with 295 YDS, and 3 TD
  3. Dec. 8, 2019 (Week 14) – Chiefs defeated the Patriots 23-16. Mahomes totaled 283 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Brady had 169 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.
  4. Nov. 29, 2020 (Week 12) – Chiefs beat the Buccaneers 27-24. Mahomes threw for 462 yards with 3 TD. Brady finished with 345 yards, 3 TD, and 2 INT.
  5. Feb. 7, 2021 (Super Bowl 55) – Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs 31-9 playing on their home field at Raymond James Stadium. Brady threw for 201 yards and 3 TD and was named Super Bowl MVP for a record 5th time.

RELATED: NFL QBs with most Super Bowl wins – Where does Tom Brady rank ahead of Super Bowl 2023

In an interview with NBC’s Maria Taylor for Football Night in America, Mahomes discusses the trademarks of a Brady-led team.

“First off, they take advantage of mistakes,” Mahomes said. “If you make a mistake on the field, if I throw an interception or if you fumble, or if something like that happens, he’s going to make you pay and get points on the board and then he’s going to manage the game.”

Mahomes also knows that while Brady has a knack for capitalizing on mistakes, he does not often make many of his own.

“He’s going to make some plays when he needs to make plays, but at the same time he’s not going to make that big mistake. So you have to go out there and play a near perfect football game to win. Another thing, he’s never out of it and I think that’s something I try to pride myself on as well is never being out of the game. So whenever you play against a Tom Brady-led team, you make sure you keep that foot down on the pedal and try to do whatever you can to finish the game off.”

Patrick Mahomes absorbs Tom Brady’s lessons

Despite the difference in age and experience, Brady and Mahomes are alike in their impact on the game.

“You want to not like Tom but he’s just like the best guy,” Mahomes said. “So it’s hard to not like him, but to be able to play in golf tournaments, and him give me kind of advice and stuff like that. I mean, he’s the GOAT. You want to learn from the best and it’s really cool to have that relationship with him.”

Even when Brady and Mahomes have faced off in high-stakes postseason games, the advice continues. The two met in the 2019 AFC Championship game, when Brady was still playing for the New England Patriots. Both quarterbacks delivered stellar performances, but Brady managed to lead the Patriots to an overtime victory.

Following this loss, Mahomes tells Taylor that he is upset and spends a lot of time after the game sitting in the locker room. But when Mahomes finally walks out, Brady is waiting for him.

“He could be celebrating” Mahomes said. “He’s going to the Super Bowl and everything like that, and all he said to me, ‘Hey, just keep doing it how you’re doing it. You’re doing it the right way.’ And as a young quarterback, you just go out there and play and try to have fun and do whatever you can to put your team in the best position to win.

But when the GOAT’s saying that, he’s saying you’re doing it the right way, it shows you that you are doing it the right way. And so that was big for me”

While Brady has not revealed all his football wisdom to Mahomes, the Chiefs’ signal-caller looks forward to learning more.

“He won’t give me all the secrets yet,” Mahomes said. “But hopefully one day I’ll get the secrets and can put those into my game.”

Patrick Mahomes embraces the Tom Brady mindset

While Brady and Mahomes are competitors, their respect from one another extends beyond the football field into their personal lives. Mahomes and his wife Brittany, have a young girl, Sterling, and are expecting a baby boy.

“You want to be able to be a family man and be with your family and you want to be able to do these different things, where you’re going into businesses and then helping out and shooting commercials and, at the same time, keeping football first.”

One of the biggest lessons Mahomes has taken from Brady is the importance of prioritizing football in addition to consistently improving at the game.

“That’s the greatness in Tom Brady is no matter how much off the field stuff he does, football is always the main priority and he makes sure to keep it that way,” Mahomes said. “And so you watch that and then at the same time you go back to him on the field and he’s always getting better. I feel like every single year he finds something he can get better at. And that’s what I want to do, is I want to keep getting better as my career goes on so that I can play hopefully, maybe not as long as him, but pretty long as well.”


How to watch the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  • Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
  • When: Sunday, October 2
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your NFL jersey and gear needs ahead of the 2022 season, click here!


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

How to watch Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TV, live stream info, preview for Sunday Night Football game

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It’s the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday, October 2 in a rematch of Super Bowl LV where Tom Brady earned his seventh ring. Sunday’s matchup marks the sixth meeting between Patrick Mahomes and Brady with the 45-year-old veteran holding a 3-2 edge in the series.

RELATED: Tom Brady’s Super Bowl wins, rings, MVPs, losses: Every appearance, NFL stats, records

Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock with Football Night in America. See below for additional information on how to watch the game.

RELATED:Will Tom Brady make playing beyond 40 more common for quarterbacks?

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: FMIA Week 3 – Broncos’ Coaching Experiment Pays Off, Dolphins Win ‘Beast’ Game, and What We Learned About the NFL in September

Be sure to start your NFL Sunday with Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Football Pregame show beginning at 11 AM ET on Peacock and the NFL on NBC YouTube channel.

Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) picked up their first loss of the season last Sunday after falling 20-17 to the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kansas City struggled offensively in Week 3 as the team was held to just three points in the second half. The Chiefs are still working to fill the void in the passing game since trading star WR Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins in the offseason but according to Mahomes, that doesn’t excuse Sunday’s loss.

RELATED: Patrick Mahomes –  I don’t expect growing pains, offense has to gel together

“I don’t expect any growing pains,” Mahomes told reporters at ESPN.com. “Obviously have new players and you don’t know everybody’s going to respond to tough situations. . . . We’ve got to gel all together. It starts with me. There were certain throws I was putting on guys’ back hips instead of in front of him. There were certain situations where we were just barely off of it.”

Mahomes, who signed a 10-year, $450 million contract extension, in July 2020–the richest contract in American sports history by total value–is in his fifth season as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback and hopes to lead Kansas City to its seventh straight AFC West title. The Chiefs are the only team to ever win six consecutive AFC West titles, which is tied for the 3rd-longest division title streak of any team in NFL history.

RELATED: Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes: All-time QB matchups, records, stats

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brady and the Buccaneers (2-1) are also coming off their first loss of the season–a 14-12 defeat at home from Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers last Sunday afternoon. With WRs Mike Evans (suspension) and Chris Godwin (hamstring)–Brady’s top two targets–and Julio Jones (knee) out in Week 3, Tampa Bay’s offense racked up a total of just 285 yards in the loss. Additionally, the team is still adapting to the turnover at the WR and TE positions from this offseason. Despite some challenges on offense, Tampa Bay’s defense has remained consistent and currently leads the NFL in scoring defense (9.0 pts/gm) and also ranks in the top 5 in total defense.

RELATED: NFL QBs with most Super Bowl wins – Where does Tom Brady rank ahead of Super Bowl 2023


How to watch the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  • Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
  • When: Sunday, October 2
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your NFL jersey and gear needs ahead of the 2022 season, click here!


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

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

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!