Brady: End coming ‘sooner than later’

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) walks onto the field before the start of practice at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday.Photo Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports (file photo)

--- ---

Tom Brady has talked of playing until he’s 45, but the quarterback of the New England Patriots understands the “R” word is not that far off.

“I think about it more now than I used to,” Brady said of retirement in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, per the Boston Herald. “I think I’m seeing there’s definitely an end coming sooner, rather than later.”

Brady, who will turn 41 in August and is entering his 19th season with the Patriots, was interviewed by Winfrey for a special that will air this weekend on the OWN Network.

The notion of retirement is an obvious one for Brady, but a reported rift with head coach Bill Belichick last season and the fact that he skipped voluntary team workouts for the first time in years has fueled the idea that he may not be long for New England.

Brady cited “family reasons” for bypassing organized team activities, insisted his relationship with Belichick is fine and declined to address his contract when meeting with the media earlier this month.

Asked by Winfrey if he had an idea how long he would continue playing, the five-time Super Bowl champion offered no specifics, although he cited family concerns.

“As long as I’m still loving it,” said Brady. “As long as I’m loving the training and the preparation and willing to make the commitment. But it’s also, I think what I alluded to a lot in the docu-series (“Tom vs. Time”), there’s other things happening in my life, too.

“I do have kids that I love, and I don’t want to be a dad that’s not there, driving my kids to their games … my kids have brought a great perspective in my life. Kids just want the attention. You better be there. And be available to them.”

Brady has led the Patriots to eight Super Bowls in 17 seasons since taking over as the team’s starter early in the 2001 season.

A three-time NFL Most Valuable Player and four-time Super Bowl MVP, Brady is always in the conversation of “Greatest of All Time” — a topic he said makes him uncomfortable.

“I don’t like it. I don’t like when people say it. … I don’t feel that way,” Brady told Winfrey. “I don’t care whether people think that or not. I want to be the best that I can be. I know when I go out there, it’s not to compare myself to this guy or that guy. Everyone plays good.”

Brady showed he can still compete at the highest level last season, throwing for a league-best 4,577 yards along with 32 touchdowns and only eight interceptions to lead New England to another Super Bowl appearance.

So what drives the future Hall of Famer at this point in his career?

“There’s still more to be accomplished,” Brady told Winfrey. “I was practicing the last two days, working on my technique, on my fundamentals, all the things with my training. I still feel like I can be better, be a percentage better. I’ve played a long time. It’s not like you go, ‘Hey man, I’m going to become something different.’

“I am what I am. I know my strengths. I’ve improved on some of the weaknesses and I still think I want to go out there and compete and play with a bunch of 22-year-olds.”