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#pounditThursday, January 27, 2022

Football

Tom Brady acknowledges uncertain future in heartfelt Instagram post

Tom Brady throws a pass

If Tom Brady has made a decision about whether or not he will play in 2022, he is clearly not yet ready to share it.

There have been several reports that Brady is legitimately contemplating retirement for the first time in his career. Brady seemed to acknowledge that in a lengthy Instagram post on Tuesday. However, he made it clear that the point of the post was to reflect on another great season.

“I understand that at this stage in my career, there is going to be interest in my future whenever a season ends, but this week, all that is on my mind is the gratitude I have for this team and the fans that have supported us all year long. This year has been incredibly rewarding personally and professionally and I am appreciative of everyone who worked their a– off to help our team achieve so much,” Brady wrote (edited by LBS for profanity.

“I always want to win, I think that’s pretty apparent by now, but that doesn’t mean I equate losing to failure, especially when you go out fighting the way we did.. There’s so much to appreciate in a season like this when you’re surrounded by a team that believes in each other, and plays for the people standing on either side of them. I’ll spare you the Man in the Arena quote, but that feeling is something that I promise I’ll never take for granted. To everyone that was a part of it this year, thank you. I love you all!”

That didn’t really answer any questions about Brady’s future. Those answers will come at some point, just not this week.

Brady has said in the past that he will retire when he can no longer play at a high level. The 44-year-old had one of his best seasons in 2021 with 5,316 yards, 43 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He is clearly still more than capable of winning games, but does he finally feel he has won enough?

Brady offered a somewhat telling quote on his future during the latest episode of his podcast. For the first time in his Hall of Fame career, it would not be a shock if he decided to walk away.

Photo: Dec 26, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) warms up before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Baker Mayfield frustrated with ‘toxic’ social media

Baker Mayfield on the sidelines

Baker Mayfield was as entertained as the rest of us with the finish in Sunday night’s playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. The Cleveland Browns quarterback was far less thrilled with the backlash he received for expressing his admiration on social media.

There were several great games during Divisional Round weekend, and Mayfield decided to share his reaction to them on Twitter. He congratulated all the teams that moved on while noting that he would “much rather be playing.”

The tweet seemed innocent enough, but many fans jumped at the opportunity to troll Mayfield. The former first overall pick seemed to take note when a member of the media jabbed him for not being as good as Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes.

Shortly after sharing his initial observation about how competitive the games were over the weekend, Mayfield wrote in a follow-up that social media is “toxic.” He said he is going to go back to keeping his circle tight, though it’s unclear what that means.

Mayfield recently underwent shoulder surgery to address an injury he played through during a frustrating fourth NFL season. His career has not gone as planned to this point, though he recently made a big prediction about the future.

Many players use criticism to fuel them, but there are times when Mayfield seems like he focuses a bit too much on the negative things people say about him. We saw an example of that recently when he unloaded on a reporter over some trade rumors. Calling social media “toxic” is further proof of how much he listens to outside noise.

Photo: Aug 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) is shown on the sideline during their game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Gronkowski offers telling quote about his future with Bucs

Rob Gronkowski in a Bucs uniform

Tom Brady has not yet committed to playing football in 2022, which means there is a chance the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to find a new starting quarterback this offseason. They may also need to start shopping for tight ends.

Rob Gronkowski spoke with TMZ on Tuesday about his playing future. He said his body is so beat up at the moment that he has no idea on whether he will return next season. Gronk even went as far as to say he would retire if forced to make a decision right now.

“If (the Bucs were) like, ‘Rob, you’ve got to decide right now, right this second if you’re playing next year,’ I would say no right now,” Gronkowski said. “It’s two days after the season. I would be like, ‘No, I’m not playing, way too soon.’ You’ve gotta give it some time and some rest to see how everything goes.”

Gronkowski added that it could take him about a month or so to really evaluate his body. The 32-year-old has suffered numerous injuries throughout his career, which is the main reason he took a season off in 2019. Gronk missed several games this season after he suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung on a vicious hit (video here). He said he only has minor “bumps and bruises” now.

“If I had an answer right now, it would be no,” Gronkowski said. “I just want to heal completely, see where my thoughts are from there. Just let things settle down — got to just heal a little bit.”

Gronkowski showed this season that he is still capable of making an impact. He had 55 passes for 802 yards and six touchdowns despite missing five games. Many have speculated that his future will be tied to Brady’s, though he had a surprising remark about that recently.

Photo: Nov 15, 2020; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) on the sidelines in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady offers telling quote about his future

Tom Brady ready to pass

Tom Brady’s latest discussion of his playing future will not do much to quiet speculation that he is seriously considering retirement.

Brady talked about his next steps in his weekly “Let’s Go” podcast with Jim Gray, and admitted that the decision of whether to continue playing was not solely his. Brady said he planned to “spend a lot of time” with his family to make a decision, and that he valued the chance to see his children grow and mature.

Brady also added that if he felt he could not give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers his very best and a full commitment, he would prefer not to play.

The 44-year-old Brady has typically left little room for uncertainty about his future. The fact that he isn’t committed to playing in 2022 is noteworthy in itself. These remarks are even more intriguing, and he sounds like someone well aware of the toll his playing career can take on his family life.

On one hand, Brady does have one year remaining on his contract. It is also difficult to imagine him going out on the back of a loss like the one he and the Buccaneers suffered Sunday. That said, he does appear to be genuinely undecided, and if family is the deciding factor, there is a very real chance he might not come back.

Photo: Jan 16, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) drops back to pass in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles in a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady had awesome postgame exchange with Eric Weddle

Tom Brady nods to the crowd

Tom Brady and Eric Weddle have both been around the NFL for quite some time. That helped lead to a pretty great postgame exchange following Sunday’s playoff game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams.

Weddle was lured out of retirement by the Rams due to the team’s injuries, and wound up playing the whole game at safety against Tampa Bay. Brady recognized that when speaking to Weddle after the game.

“You gotta be sore as f—,” Brady said. Weddle laughed, and responded by jokingly asking Brady why he and the Buccaneers had to make what had been a 27-3 game into a nail-biter.

The respect is clearly mutual between these two. They did battle for many years as AFC rivals with the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens, so they are certainly familiar with each other.

Brady is clearly pondering retirement, making the interaction even more interesting. Perhaps he’ll reach out to Weddle for an account of what retired life is like.

Photo: Aug 28, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) jogs off the field after a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Brown says Bucs tried to pay him to go to mental health facility

Antonio Brown smiling

Antonio Brown has claimed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tried to force him to play hurt, and the star receiver has now made another troubling allegation against the organization.

Brown and his attorney, Sean Burstyn, sat down for an interview with Bryant Gumbel for HBO’s “Real Sports” this week. The entire interview will air on Tuesday night, but the show has released a preview. In it, Brown and Burstyn say the Bucs offered to pay Brown $200,000 to check into a mental health treatment facility.

“These guys at the Tampa Bay Bucs tried to make an agreement with me and give me $200,000 to go to the crazy house so these guys can look like they know what they’re talking about,” Brown said. “These guys are unprofessional.”

Brown then instructed Burstyn to share the details of the proposed agreement. Burstyn said the Bucs wanted Brown to sit out and admit he had mental health issues.

“The offer was basically that Antonio would sit on the sidelines, go on some list and commit himself to some form of intensive mental health treatment,” Burstyn said. “We were specifically told in writing by the general manager twice, ‘Don’t spin this any other way.'”

Brown has insisted he does not have any mental health issues. He said recently that his mental health is in a good place and that he only stripped his clothes off and left the field in Week 17 because Bucs head coach Bruce Arians kicked him off the sideline. Arians says Brown threw a fit about not getting the ball enough. Brown told Gumbel there is no truth to that and that he knew Tom Brady would get him the ball. He insists he only could not play because of his ankle injury. You can see the full clip below:

One former NFL player recently speculated that Brown hasn’t been the same since a vicious hit he took years ago. Brown is determined to push back at that narrative. It seems like it will be part of his and Burstyn’s strategy when they inevitably take legal action against the Bucs.

Photo: Oct 14, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Saints owner has interesting response to Sean Payton rumor

Sean Payton on the sideline

A report over the weekend claimed Sean Payton has not yet decided if he wants to coach the New Orleans Saints next season, and it sounds as though he has left the team in the dark as well.

Saints owner Gayle Benson was asked on Monday if she expects Payton to coach the team in 2022. She laughed it off and essentially said you never know with Payton.

“We’ll find out soon enough, I guess. I don’t think any of us know, but he’ll let us know soon,” Benson said.

Payton is signed through 2024, so it is significant that his boss is unsure if he plans to return next season. The 58-year-old has reportedly been contemplating his future while on vacation.

If Payton decides to take a year off in 2022, he may have another job waiting for him. However, that would likely be the end of his tenure in New Orleans, which began in 2006.

Drew Brees retired following the 2020 season, which has left the Saints in a transitional period. Jameis Winston then suffered a torn ACL back in November. The Saints seemed desperate for QB help down the stretch. They still managed to finish 9-8, but it’s possible all the uncertainty has taken a toll on Payton.

Photo: Aug 23, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton looks on during the second half against Jacksonville Jaguars at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles Pro Bowler announces his retirement

Brandon Brooks on the field

The Philadelphia Eagles have said they are confident in their offense heading into next season with Jalen Hurts, but they suddenly have another hole to fill on their offensive line.

Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks announced on Wednesday that he is retiring. The 32-year-old is in his sixth season with the Eagles, though he has missed almost all of the last two with injuries.

Brooks played in just two games this year due to a pectoral injury. He missed all of 2020 with a torn Achilles. The guard made three straight Pro Bowls from 2017-2019. Brooks cited the injuries as the main reason he is calling it a career.

Prior to his announcement, Brooks restructured his deal with the Eagles to free up salary cap space for the team.

The Eagles seem committed to Hurts going into 2022, despite his struggles in their playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Brooks retiring, it would not be a surprise to see them address the O-line in the draft.

Photo: Aug 12, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles offensive guard Brandon Brooks before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Brown reveals the 1 NFL quarterback he wants to play with next

Antonio Brown smiling

Antonio Brown has played with both Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady, to varying degrees of success. Now he has another quarterback that he would like to add to the list.

The mercurial wide receiver appeared this week on the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast and was asked what NFL quarterback he wants to play with next.

“Lamar Jackson,” said Brown. “Action Jackson. Let’s give Lamar Jackson his flowers.

“Shoutout Lamar Jackson, that’s it,” Brown added. “Lamar Jackson is a great quarterback, not only him throwing the ball, the dynamic of him playing, the excitement.”

For his part, Jackson seemed to approve of the shoutout from Brown.

The Baltimore Ravens missed the playoffs this season for the first time in Jackson’s career. Granted, the former MVP Jackson was banged up for the last month or so of the year, and Baltimore lost their last six straight games.

Brown’s problems are obviously well-documented, but he continues to angle himself for another NFL contract. Whether he can convince not just Jackson but the entire Ravens organization to give him a shot is an entirely different story though.

Photo: Oct 14, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins reportedly have favorite for head coach job

Brian Daboll on the field

The Miami Dolphins have been looking for a new head coach since firing Brian Flores at the end of the season. They may have a favorite for the job, according to a report.

The New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard reports that Daboll is favored to become the head coach of the Dolphins.

Leonard’s report was framed around what may happen with the Giants job. According to Leonard, the Giants would likely turn to the likes of Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn or Flores if Daboll goes to Miami.

Daboll heading to Miami could be regarded as a surprise.

There were a lot of reasons to believe that Daboll was being lined up for the Giants job. After all, someone Daboll is quite familiar with was just hired as New York’s general manager. It made a great deal of sense that Daboll would be targeted as head coach in light of that.

Miami could have some appeal for Daboll. He might be interested in working with Tua Tagovailoa, and the team does appear to be closer to contention than the Giants are. Those may be factors in Daboll’s thinking.

Photo: Sep 12, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll looks on prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports