But apparently it wasn’t a sudden change of heart (or too much family time) that prompted Brady to go back to the Bucs.
According to a report by the Boston Globe, there was a plan in place for Brady to become an executive and minority owner with the Miami Dolphins – and eventually return as the Dolphins’ quarterback, with Sean Payton as coach. But a lawsuit accusing the NFL of racial discrimination blew up the entire plan.
It’s a wild, complicated story with a lot of moving parts, so sit back because it’s quite the ride.
A league source reportedly told the Boston Globe that Brady was presented with an opportunity to become a high-level executive in the Dolphins’ front office. He would also be introduced as a minority owner shortly thereafter, before this year’s Super Bowl.
But in addition to working in their front office, the plan was to also have the Dolphins approach Tampa Bay about a trade for Brady as a player, letting him come out of retirement and play quarterback.
A wrench was almost immediately thrown into their plans though. Well actually it was more than a wrench. It was more like a hand grenade.
On the same day that Brady announced he was stepping away from the Bucs, former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a bombshell lawsuit against the team and the NFL, alleging that the team discriminated against him on the basis of race when he was fired – while also claiming that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered Flores $100k per loss to tank the team’s season so that they would get a higher draft pick.
Among the other allegations made by Flores in his lawsuit were claims that he was given a “sham” interview by the New York Giants, and that he found out the Giants had already decided on a head coach before Flores had even been interviewed.
Once Flores filed his lawsuit, the plan for Brady to join the Bucs was called off. The team couldn’t risk hiring an executive without complying with the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams interview minority candidates for executives and head coaches.
Hiring both Brady and Payton without interviewing minority candidates would have violated the Rooney Rule, and the Dolphins were already under a microscope now. Text messages between Ross and Brady would be discoverable by Flores in a lawsuit, and a violation of the Rooney Rule would surely be used against them.
Oh, and remember how I said that a major part of the Flores lawsuit were the allegations that the New York Giants had already picked their head coach before Flores had even been interviewed?
Well how did Flores find out that his interview was a sham?
It was an accidental text from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick – Tom Brady’s former coach – congratulating Flores on getting the job before he had even interviewed.
Confused by the message, Flores texted Belichick back to make sure he was texting the right Brian. Turns out Belichick had meant to send the text to Brian Daboll, who was ultimately hired as the Giants head coach.
A little ironic that Tom Brady’s former head coach blew up Brady’s plans to become a team owner for one of the Patriots’ division rivals…but I digress.
Now Brady was left without a team for 2021. And his relationship with Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians had also soured, after reports that Brady and Bucs offensive coordinator would gameplan during the week, only to have Arians come behind them and undermine the work that they had done.
But a trip to the UK for a Manchester United soccer game – which is owned by the same family that owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – helped Brady clear up some issues with his former team. And the day after the soccer game, Brady announced that he was coming out of his 40 day retirement to return as quarterback for the Bucs.
Then just a few weeks later, Arians announced that he would be retiring, a move that many believed Brady had a hand in.
It’s a wild story, but one that makes sense given the shocking nature of Brady’s retirement, and then sudden change of heart just 40 days later.
And it also explains why Sean Payton decided to step away from the New Orleans Saints after all these years, yet leaving the door open to returning to coaching.
I knew there had to be more to both stories. And man, was there ever.