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Tom Brady sidesteps whether he still plans to play until he’s 45

Tom Brady said he wants to stay in New England beyond next season and that he could play until he's 45, but just don't expect him to tell you when he's going to retire.

On Tuesday morning, Tom Brady told WEEI that he hopes to be with the Patriots “next year and hopefully beyond.” That means he’ll play at least until he’s 43.

So what about the longstanding claim that he’ll play until he’s 45? He was asked about that during a Tuesday media availability.
“You know, I think you always have short-term goals and long-term goals and this year’s the one I’m focused on and obviously I want to play for a long time so I’ve said that for a while,” Brady said. “Feel like I’m a broken record. You know, it’s really this year is the focus and this team. This team needs a great quarterback and you know, hopefully I can go out and be that.”

Brady, in my view, has pointed to 45 in the past because he doesn’t want to ever have a farewell year, for plenty of reasons. He doesn’t want to take the focus away from the team, and he doesn’t want the extra emotion that would come from having a serious of “lasts.” He just wants to be done when he’s done, and he doesn’t want it to be clear in advance that the train is pulling into the station.

There’s also another reality that quickly is becoming relevant, given his contractual status. When the time came to adjust Brady’s contract last week, the Patriots didn’t extend it. Meaning that he’s under contract only through 2019. Which means that when he says “hopefully beyond,” he’s referring to the inescapable reality that the Patriots still may decide to separate from Brady before Brady decides to separate from the game.