SI:AM | Tom Brady’s Decision Looms After Cowboys Bounce Bucs

Have we seen the last of the GOAT? At least in a Bucs uniform?

Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. Have we seen the last of the GOAT?

In today’s SI:AM:

🏴‍☠️ Tom Brady’s future

Why slap fighting is a terrible idea

🤠 The Cowboys are just getting started

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What’s next?

Tom Brady’s most underwhelming season as a pro came to an end last night with a 31–14 loss to the Cowboys at home. And the focus will turn to Brady’s future. Will the most accomplished player in NFL history be back to play a 24th season in 2023 at age 46?

Brady’s Bucs went 8–9 in the regular season, the first time a team quarterbacked by him has finished the season at or below .500. Statistically, Brady was roughly on par with how he’s played in recent seasons. He led the league in passes completed and attempted (playing from behind frequently will do that), and his 66.8% completion rate was the fourth-highest of his career. But he fell off in other areas. His touchdown rate (3.4%) was the lowest of his career as a starter and his yards per attempt average (6.4) was his lowest since 2002. There were concerns about his supporting cast (particularly the offensive line), but at Brady’s age any sign of a decline deserves scrutiny.

We’ve been playing the will-he-won’t-he game with Brady’s future for years now, but the end of his career seems more plausible than ever after last year’s stunning 40-day reversal. Brady said repeatedly throughout this season he wasn’t thinking about retiring, but he changed his tune last night after the loss.

“I’m gonna go home and get a good night’s sleep, as good as I can tonight,” Brady said. “It’s just been a lot of focus on this game. It’s just gonna be one day at a time, truly.”

Brady closed his press conference with a message for the media and fans that sounded like, if not a farewell to the NFL then at least a farewell to the Buccaneers. He is a free agent now, after all.

Rumors swirled throughout the final weeks of the season about which potential suitors Brady would have if he chose to return in 2023 and opted to leave Tampa Bay behind. Maybe the Dolphins, which pursued him when he left the Patriots. Maybe his hometown 49ers. What about the Titans, who could use an upgrade at quarterback? Or the Raiders, where Brady would be reunited with Josh McDaniels? Get ready for Brady’s future to be the dominant story of the NFL offseason.

The best of Sports Illustrated

In slap fighting, short of biting your mouthguard and hoping to hell that your opponent obeys the rules against clocking you in the ear, there’s little for the “defender” to do but stand there and take it. “There’s nothing sporting about it with no defense,” says Chris Nowinski, pro wrestler turned neuroscientist and cofounder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “[Slap fighting] is perhaps one step above the old Bumfights videos. So sad.”

The top five…

… NBA highlights from MLK Day:

5. 41 points for Stephen Curry.

4. D’Angelo Russell’s game-tying layup in the final seconds against the Jazz. (Utah won thanks to a foul call on its next possession.)

3. Jayson Tatum’s 51 points against the Hornets.

2. LeBron James’s season-high 48 points.

1. RJ Barrett’s coast-to-coast dunk in the final second to force overtime against the Raptors. (The Knicks lost, though.)


Former outfielder Chili Davis, who was born on this day 63 years ago, is one of just a handful of MLB players born in Jamaica. Who leads all Jamaican-born players in Baseball Reference WAR?

  • Chili Davis
  • Devon White
  • Oscar Levis
  • Justin Masterson

Yesterday’s SIQ: When the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals announced on Jan. 16, 1988, that they were moving to Phoenix, which of the following cities was not also hoping to land the team?

  • Jacksonville
  • Memphis
  • Baltimore
  • Nashville

Answer: Nashville. In addition to the other cities listed above, the Cardinals also had an offer to relocate to Columbus, Ohio.

Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill had been trying for years to get out of St. Louis. The team played at Busch Stadium, which, although it was built to host both the football and baseball Cardinals, was the second-smallest stadium in the NFL. The stadium’s capacity was more than 54,000, but the Cardinals couldn’t even come close to filling it. In the years before the move, they averaged about 40,000 fans, and things got even worse when it was clear the team was packing its bags. In Week 9 of their final season in St. Louis, only 22,449 fans were on hand for their 25-point fourth-quarter comeback against the Buccaneers.

Bidwill had offers to keep the team in Missouri, including a plan to build a domed stadium in downtown St. Louis. But the NFL Cardinals simply weren’t as popular as the MLB Cardinals in St. Louis, as Ron Fimrite wrote in SI after the move:

St. Louis is preeminently a baseball town. The football Cardinals averaged only 27,821 for their seven home games this year as compared with an average of 39,386 for baseball’s 81 home dates. Quarterback Neil Lomax told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he and his teammates were always made to feel like “second-class citizens.” Leaving a place where they felt unloved for one prepared to embrace them will be like “a great honeymoon,” Lomax said. “We won’t have to apologize anymore because we don’t play baseball.”

So Bidwill decided to take the team elsewhere. NFL owners voted to approve the move in March, although they weren’t exactly thrilled about it. Owners had been hoping to put an expansion team in Phoenix and be paid a hefty expansion fee. They wanted Bidwill to move his team to Baltimore to replace the recently departed Colts. Instead, Bidwill had to pay just a fraction of what an expansion team would have for relocating his team.

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