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Tom Brady sees the end coming “sooner rather than later”

Tom Brady said retirement is coming 'sooner rather than later,' but until then, the Patriots remain heavy favorites to win the AFC East once again.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady obviously is far closer to the end of his career than the beginning. It’s still not clear how close he may be. But he knows it’s coming.

I think about it more now than I used to,” Brady tells Oprah Winfrey in an interview that debuts this weekend, via the Boston Herald. “I think I’m seeing there’s definitely an end coming sooner, rather than later.”

He continues to avoid specifics about when he’ll walk away, keeping his commitment to play open ended.

“As long as I’m still loving it,” Brady said. “As long as I’m loving the training and the preparation and willing to make the commitment. But it’s also, I think what I alluded to a lot in the [Tom vs. Time] docu-series, there’s other things happening in my life, too. I do have kids that I love, and I don’t want to be a dad that’s not there, driving my kids to their games . . . my kids have brought a great perspective in my life. Kids just want the attention. You better be there. And be available to them.”

Despite plenty of speculation regarding the reasons for Brady’s absence from voluntary offseason workouts in 2018, the simplest explanation could be that his family has demanded more of his attention, prompting him to choose spending time with them over non-mandatory work days. And that could be part of the complex compromise that will come to characterize the latter days of Brady’s Hall of Fame career.

As long as he can maintain that balance -- and as long as he can perform at a high level -- he’ll keep going.

Even then, no one should ever expect Brady to provide an expiration date to his career. He’s not wired to have a Jeter-style farewell tour, which would put himself above the team. Brady likely will insist he intends to keep playing until the moment he decides to stop, and it will come as a surprise, no matter how inevitable everyone realizes it now is.