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Patriots' Tom Brady says his NFL career will end 'sooner rather than later'

Guardian sport
  • New England quarterback will turn 41 in August
  • League MVP led team to Super Bowl appearance last season
Tom Brady was named the league’s most valuable player last season. Photograph: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA/REX/Shutterstock

Tom Brady, who turns 41 before the start of the new NFL season, says he is in the final stages of his career.

The New England Patriots quarterback, who led his team to the Super Bowl last season where they were defeated by the Philadelphia Eagles, has said in the past that he intends to play into his mid-40s. However, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey broadcast on Sunday, Brady said the end may come sooner.

“I think about it more now than I used to. I think I’m seeing that there’s definitely an end coming, sooner rather than later,” said Brady, who has won five Super Bowls with the Patriots.

Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, has spoken in the past about her concerns for her husband’s health in a brutal sport. On Sunday, Brady said his children would be the main reason he retired. “As long as I’m still loving it [I will carry on playing],” he said. [But] 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. I think my kids have brought a great perspective in my life, because kids just want the attention. You better be there and be available to them, or else they’re going to look back on their life and go, ‘Dad didn’t really care that much.’”

Brady was named the league’s most valuable player last season, and shows few signs of slowing down. “I still feel like there’s still more to be accomplished. I still feel like I can be better, be a percentage better. I’ve played a long time. It’s not like you go, ‘Hey man, I’m going to become something different.’ No. I am what I am. I know my strengths. I’ve improved on some of the weaknesses. And I still think I want to go out there and compete and play with a bunch of 22-year-olds. It’s still a lot of fun.”

The subject of anthem protests has dominated much of the off-season, with the NFL introducing new rules that will see teams fined if players protest during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. Brady told Winfrey that he respected those who protest. “I’ve been playing sports long enough [to know] everyone comes from something different, and I think showing respect for everybody, in a locker room, with a team of guys trying to go in the same direction – you better have that empathy for everybody. That’s what sports are about,” he said.

Brady also denied reports that there is a rift between him and the Patriots’ long-time head coach Bill Belichick. “Umm, no. I mean, I love him. I love that he’s an incredible coach, mentor for me. And he’s pushed me in a lot of ways. Like everything, we don’t agree on absolutely everything. But that’s relationships.”