Sports Shorts

* Among the presumed Heisman Trophy contenders for next season: the University of Washington’s Michael Penix, an alumnus of Tampa Bay Tech.

* Why did Tom Brady unretire for the 2022 season? First, because he is Tom Brady. A GOAT can make that call and get GOAT money for an otherwise QB-challenged team. Second, he had won a Super Bowl here and came close enough the following season. Maybe there was more magic, even with all the roster chaos. Third, it’s never easy to leave center stage. Sure, he has his well-known brand, his lucrative investments, a rich broadcast-analyst contract awaiting, an ongoing podcast and an “80 for Brady” movie that has even enthralled Jane Fonda.

But life is different when you no longer have the ultimate center-stage forum for your talent. It can never be the same. Even iconic quarterbacks who no longer had their prime-time games–think Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath–couldn’t resist one final year, however humbling and embarassing.

But this we do know: Brady can still play—even at a position that increasingly focuses on mobility, hardly Brady’s strength. But he can only be Brady if he’s surrounded by enough talent to have a shot at next year’s Super Bowl. The Bucs, with their roster-and-draft tumult, are not that team.

* There are injuries, retirements, free-agent exits and draft decisions. It’s NFL parity. Don’t just cite the Bucs. Just ask the defending Super Bowl champion (5-12) LA Rams. BTW, for all the disappointments—and staff firings—the Bucs remain the only team in the NFC to reach the playoffs in each of the past three seasons.

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