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Tom Brady tells Oprah he sees the end of his career coming 'sooner, rather than later'

You’d think, based on most of his comments through the years, Tom Brady has never considered retirement.

He has mostly shrugged off the question about his football immortality. Or, he has claimed he wants to play to his mid-40s, which seems like forever in NFL terms.

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But there were some hints that the New England Patriots quarterback, who will turn 41 in August, was starting to think about the end of his career in his “Tom vs. Time” Facebook series. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey he gave the strongest hint yet that the end might be coming sooner than any Patriots fan wants to admit.

When might Brady step away from the NFL?

Brady sat down with Winfrey for an interview to air Sunday on Winfrey’s OWN network, and the Boston Herald said that an excerpt released dealt with the retirement question.

“I think about it more now than I used to,” Brady said, via the Boston Herald. “I think I’m seeing there’s definitely an end coming sooner, rather than later.”

What does that exactly mean? Brady wouldn’t say. Winfrey tried to pin him down to an age, but Brady wouldn’t bite. So maybe in Brady’s mind, “sooner, rather than later” is still three or four years away. The Patriots would happily sign up for that.

But while it seems like the 2017 NFL MVP really can play forever, especially with his famed training regimen, the quarterback with the greatest resume in NFL history understands the end is near.

Brady has a consideration other than football

Brady’s main consideration seems to be his family, based on what he told Winfrey.

“As long as I’m still loving it,” Brady said, when asked how long he’ll play. “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 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.”

It’s practically impossible to be a full-time dad and a full-time quarterback, and Brady’s kids aren’t getting younger. He has three children, and his first-born son is 10 years old.

The Brady retirement question will loom

One thing that’s not a part of the retirement conversation yet is Brady’s level of play. He’s coming off an MVP season and set a record for passing yards in a Super Bowl in his last game. He defied the mostly awful history of 40-year-old quarterbacks to post one of his best seasons ever. There are no signs the end is near, from that aspect. You’d never guess he’s 40 years old when you watch him play.

Even if Brady could play at a high level until 45 years old, there are other considerations. The retirement question won’t stop until Brady steps away, and the topic is apparently on Brady’s mind as well.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady talked with Oprah Winfrey about when he might possibly retire. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!