Watch Tom Brady's lips closely as he speaks with soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo on Saturday.
To Ronaldo’s question, "Are you finished?" Brady seems to say, "One more." And even if those aren’t the exact words, the accompanying body language pretty much says it all.
"I thought I was done, but I’m not. Last round. One more."
Who among us hasn’t said "one more?" We know we should be leaving but -- dammit! -- we’re just having too good a time.
Do you begrudge Tom Brady "one more?" I don’t. He’s a big boy. He’ll get home safely. Selfishly, he’s good company. And he said himself he’d call it a career, "When I suck." He doesn’t suck. So why not stick around for one more? What’s the harm in that?
That it will hurt his legacy? Come on. Brady can throw 25 picks this year and it won’t undo what he’s done. A bad individual season won’t leave a stain as much as it will confirm that there was indeed an expiration date on his greatness. There’s shame in doing something until collapse? Disagree.
That he might get hurt? How’s that different from the past 35 years he’s been playing? It isn’t. When your enjoyment is overshadowed by fear of getting hurt, then you get out. If you do get hurt, well, that’s the price you paid to play and you’re OK with it.
His family’s OK with it, his bosses want him back, you can be sure his teammates want him back and -- even if you’ve got a terrible case of Brady Fatigue -- you're still begrudgingly curious as to how it will turn out. Wins all around.
Unless there aren’t wins in Tampa. And that’s the real risk for Brady. He went out the door and into the parking lot, then busted back into the bar. Everyone who thought he’d left and taken the party with him is fired up about the fun continuing just like it was.
But "one more" usually isn’t satisfying. Sometimes it’s melancholy and maudlin. Everybody’s pretty tired. Often it just serves as confirmation that what your gut told you -- the party's over -- was exactly right.
There will be plenty of people the next few months predicting that Brady will embarrass himself. For about 30 years, I’ve been reading in The Boston Globe about Willie Mays staggering around in the Mets outfield at the age of 41 as the cautionary tale for overstaying your welcome. God forbid.
Honestly, the conceit that informs that viewpoint is that the athlete’s experience is about the consumer. The fan. Don’t play badly at the end because then I’ll see my hero vulnerable. Or play badly at the end so I can say, "See? You should have quit."
The reality is that Brady’s comeback isn’t about the fans or his teammates or even his family. It’s about him and using his gift as long as he can. Maybe too long. Who knows?
Another Michigan man, Bo Schembechler, once famously said, "Nothing good ever happens after midnight." Maybe. But usually something happens, good or bad.
Tom Brady’s out way past midnight. Let the good times roll.