The message from Tom Brady feels a little different this time — and it's a bit out of character for him.
It's true that Brady has fooled us once before, having retired this offseason in what felt like a hastened decision before deciding a month later to play in the 2022 NFL season.
But in a candid moment Wednesday on the "Dan Patrick Show," Brady admitted that the burning drive that once fueled him is starting to run closer to empty as he approaches his age-45 season.
"I had the appetite to compete, and it's gonna be gone soon," Brady said when asked how his decision to return unfolded. "I mean, there's no doubt about it. I gotta just really appreciate the time I have left, because it's not a lot."
Is this the first time Brady has admitted that there's a limit to his drive? Perhaps we're making too big a deal of this, but Brady famously is both tight-lipped and reserved when it comes to giving a true window into his mindset as a player.
Lest anyone is worried about his hunger running dry before or during the season, Brady made sure to note that he was feeling "super competitive" when he decided to flip on his original retirement designs.
"And part crazy," he added.
Brady didn't outright tell Patrick that this was his final NFL season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But it's hard not to read into his comments on his career slipping away as anything but an indication it's his final run.
Tom Brady admits he'll have 'growing pains' as broadcaster eventually
Brady's post-playing days appear to be pretty mapped out. Whenever he does hang up the cleats, he'll have a plum broadcast gig with Fox. But Brady isn't taking the Drew Brees route and going into a studio role, instead heading straight for a game analyst job that he feels suits his experience better to this point.
“I’ve been in every production meeting for 22 years since I started playing in 2001,” Brady said. “I know what those guys are asking, I know what they’re asked to do and I think it feels very much like a team that goes on the road to prepare for a game.”
That said, Brady admitted he expects to have a few rookie moments in his new job.
“There’s a lot of learning curve ... obviously, it will be a totally new career,” Brady said. “It’s a new opportunity for me to try something that I’m going to work really hard to prepare to be as good as I possibly can be, knowing that the day I walk on the set for the first time won’t be my finest moment.
"There’ll be a lot of growing pains, and I’ll have to learn to be really good at it.”
Is Fox, which doled out a $375 million deal to Brady, comfortable with his future "growing pains?" Either way, they have no choice.
While Fox's Greg Olsen looks like a potential natural in his announcing work, he's still pretty new to the job. CBS's Tony Romo has been an early player-turned-broadcaster success, but even his star seems to have faded after a hot start.
Brees clearly was an odd fit in his new role with NBC, and Jason Witten went from heavily mocked "Monday Night Football" analyst back to playing again.
Not everyone can do it, even as great a QB as Brady has been. He'll have to open the valve a bit more on what he can share — certainly more than he did when meeting with the media. Think of all the wild moments in Brady's NFL career you'd love to have a truth-serum account on.
That might be asking a bit too much, as calling games and doing a tell-all biography are two entirely different deals. But perhaps his candid "it's gonna be gone soon" moment will be a foreshadowing of how Brady works as a broadcaster. If so, we might be in for a heck of a reveal.