The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were among the most realistic Super Bowl contenders as soon as Tom Brady decided to return for the 2022 campaign, but they struggle to stay around .500 after four losses in their last five games.
However, the future Hall of Famer hasn’t lost his passion for the game despite Tampa Bay’s 3-4 start.
“Absolutely,” he said in his Let’s go! podcast when co-host Jim Gray asked him if he still loves the sport at 45 years old in the face of recent struggles (15:45 mark). “… It’s a tough sport that we’ve chosen, and it’s tough. It challenges you in every area, physically, mentally and emotionally. Certainly at this stage we’re at, this is where you have to dig in and see what you’re all about. Look what kind of character you have.”
Surely this isn’t what Brady had in mind when he decided to return after temporarily retiring last offseason.
Tampa Bay scored just three points in Sunday’s loss to a Carolina Panthers team that has already fired head coach Matt Rhule and traded running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Robbie Anderson.
He has scored more than 21 points just once all season, and that was during a 41-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The frustration is clearly there, as Brady has been seen yelling at his offensive linemen and throwing a tablet on the sidelines, but he put to rest any speculation that he might retire again during the season.
“I committed to this team,” he said (6:00 p.m.). “And I love this team… I’ve never given anything up in my life.”
Brady spent much of the podcast discussing how important it is to overcome adversity and how he still believes this Buccaneers team is capable of making a run. He sure helps that they’re tied with the Atlanta Falcons for atop the NFC South and could take control of the division with just a couple of better efforts.
“Anybody can be there during the parades,” he said. “Everyone can be there when everyone tells you how great you are. Who are you when things don’t go your way? Who are you when things don’t go your way?”
The next step for the Buccaneers is a Thursday night matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, who are also looking for a little more consistency after alternating wins and losses on their way to a 4-3 record through the first seven games.
It may just take an impressive offensive performance from Brady and Tampa Bay to turn things around, and fans at least don’t have to worry about whether he still loves the game while his team is struggling.