The UFC’s Dana White pulled no punches in trying to persuade Tom Brady to play one more year. When White got wind of the retirement buzz, he said he immediately texted the future Hall of Fame quarterback and tried to get him to reconsider.
“I was hammering him to come to Vegas,” White, an avid Patriots fan who lives in Las Vegas, recently said. After the Bucs lost in the playoffs a few weeks ago, rumors swirled that Brady may retire. That’s when the texts started pouring in from friends and sports fans all over the country. White said that he encouraged Brady to force a trade out of Tampa Bay to the Raiders, who just moved to Vegas from Oakland in 2020.
“I was firing texts to him and he sent very cryptic text messages,” White tells TMZ. “He had me thinking he wasn’t going to retire. So, you know what I was doing? I was hammering him to come to Vegas and play for the Raiders.”
It sounds like Brady kept his plans extremely close to the chest, even amidst the friendly badgering from fans like White. Brady eventually revealed his decision earlier this week after initially denying reports that he would retire, which surfaced the week prior within NFL media circles. Some reports claimed that contract language encouraged Brady to prolong his decision a few extra days in order to achieve incentives. But neither the team nor Brady’s agent ever corroborated those reports.
White added that he hopes to see Brady in Vegas more often anyways — maybe ringside at a fight — but said he expects the former quarterback to stay busy even after leaving football.
Some highlights of Brady’s unprecedented career
Brady retired after 22 seasons in the NFL. He played for twenty years in New England alongside head coach Bill Belichick, winning six Super Bowl championships over the course of two separate dynastic runs. Brady initially (and famously) took over for star quarterback Drew Bledsoe during his rookie season after Bledsoe suffered an injury. Brady would never ride the bench for the rest of his illustrious career.
In 2007, during the physical prime of a career that eventually spanned far longer than any quarterback before, Brady led the Patriots to an undefeated regular season. Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss was also in his prime, and the duo led the Pats to win after win in a season in which perfection actually seemed attainable in the NFL. No team has registered an undefeated season and Super Bowl win since the 1972 Dolphins. Alas, the Pats lost in the Super Bowl, ending the magical run.
Unbeknownst to the entire world, however, was that Brady would play another 15 years in the league. After a semi-prickly divorce with the Patriots two years ago, Brady played his final seasons in Tampa Bay. A brief moonlight run in another city is nothing new for NFL quarterbacks, but Brady once again broke the mold by actually winning big in his new town. The Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2021 in front of their home fans, a first in NFL history.