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Will Tom Brady surprise everyone and retire after this season?

Chris Simms and Mike Florio wonder how Tom Brady and his Buccaneers offense will be able to handle the powerful Rams defensive line in their Sunday Divisional Round matchup.

For years, Tom Brady has tried to push his retirement date as far into the future as possible. With Brady saying plainly and clearly on multiple occasions that he’ll play this year and next year and then figure out his future, is it possible his future has already been decided?

Former teammate Rob Ninkovich said Wednesday on ESPN that Brady could indeed call it quits after the current season ends.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if Tom Brady decided to walk away [this offseason] and do whatever he wants to do,” Ninkovich said, via USA Today. “Right now, Tom is in bonus time. How many 44-year-old quarterbacks have we seen throw for the amount of yards and touchdowns? He’ll be 45 in August. So, at this point right now, what else does he have to prove to anybody? What else does he have to check off the list?”

Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was asked about that comment earlier today, during his weekly press conference. Oddly, Leftwich didn’t point out, for example, that Tom has said on multiple occasions he’ll play this year and next year.

“I don’t know him,” Leftwich said of Ninkovich. “I didn’t really hear the comment, but Tom is playing at a high level. I’ll leave it at that.”

It would be a stunner if Brady retires. Beyond making it clear that he plans to play through 2022, he has said that he never wants to believe he quit while he still had gas in the tank.

And as to the “what else does he have to prove to anybody?” argument Ninkovich advanced, Brady’s wife has been using that same reasoning on him for a while, possibly all the way back to New England’s win in Super Bowl LI, during which Brady helped the team overcome a 28-3 third-quarter deficit. She definitely played that card after Super Bowl LV.

Still, those who know Brady believe that he never wants to have a farewell season. An “All About Tommy” tour. What better way to avoid any season beginning as possibly Brady’s last (which next year would be) by walking away?

Another factor could be how the year ends. The idea of Brady retiring with anything other than a Super Bowl win seems odd, improper. Not befitting his achievements.

Regardless, it’s something to keep an eye on. No one other than Brady knows how his body is feeling after playing a full season at age 44. Maybe he finally has decided to invoke Danny Glover’s catch phrase from the Lethal Weapon series.

I’m getting too old for this shit.