Tom Brady’s documentary finale hints at how fast end might be coming for his NFL career

When an NFL season ends in dramatic failure, there are often basic truths that have to be considered when it comes to players and the first few months of the offseason. Never read too deeply into outside interests. Never trust emotional statements. And never underestimate the game continually pulling aging stars back into the fold.

As the offseason goes on, lingering questions tend to find answers – for better or worse in the NFL.

While all of that is worth keeping in mind, it’s hard to get past the looming sense of the end for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Particularly after watching the final episode of “Tom vs. Time,” the six-part documentary vehicle that has taken fans as deep into Brady’s life as anyone has ever gotten. The final episode was released Monday, and it wrapped with a final minute that punctuated two pressing realities: The last season may have been the most difficult of Brady’s career, and the next season may very well be his last.

21 PHOTOS
Major moments from Super Bowl LII
See Gallery
Major moments from Super Bowl LII
NFL Football - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots - Super Bowl LII - U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. - February 4, 2018 Philadelphia Eagles�Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins during the national anthems before the game REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
NFL Football - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots - Super Bowl LII - U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. - February 4, 2018. Philadelphia Eagles? Alshon Jeffery scores a touchdown. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Feb 4, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan (15) carries the ball after a catch past Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (93) during the first quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 4, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) makes a touchdown catch against New England Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe (25) during the first quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Brandin Cooks #14 of the New England Patriots is tended to by the trainers after sustaining an injury during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Brandin Cooks #14 of the New England Patriots is tended to by the trainers after sustaining an injury during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Patrick Robinson #21 of the Philadelphia Eagles and Danny Amendola #80 of the New England Patriots are seperated by Malcolm Jenkins #27 after they exchange words after the whistle during the second quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots drops a pass inteded for him from teammate Rob Gronkowski #87 (not pictured) during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Stephen Gostkowski (L) of the New Enlgand Patriots walks off the filed following an unsuccessful field goal attempt against the Philadelphia Eagles during Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Corey Clement #30 of the Philadelphia Eagles makes the catch defended by Jordan Richards #37 of the New England Patriots in the second quarter of Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: The New England Patriots defense tackles Nelson Agholor #13 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 celebrates with David Andrews #60 of the New England Patriots during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Philadelphia Eagles bobbles the pass under pressure from Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots as teamamte Duron Harmon #30 (not pictured) intercepts the ball in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Corey Clement (L) of the Eagles scores against the Patriots during Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Timothy A. CLARY / ALTERNATIVE CROP (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Chris Hogan #15 of the New England Patriots makes a catch defended by Rodney McLeod #23 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the third quarter of Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Chris Hogan #15 of the New England Patriots celebrates after a 26-yard touchdown catch against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots catches a 5-yard pass for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots has the ball stripped by Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles late in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates with teammates after forcing a fumble by Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots (not pictured) during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after fumbling the ball during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

That’s what resonated with Brady’s final minute of narration into a camera – a moment that featured him asking the questions that often become the precursors to a final act.

“What are we doing this for?

“Who are we doing this for?

“Why are we doing this?”

If that kind of reflection wasn’t enough, Brady finished the project with one gripping philosophical thought before the screen cut to credits:

“You’ve got to have answers for those questions,” Brady said. “And they have to be with a lot of conviction. When you lose your conviction, you probably should be doing something else.”

It was a powerful way to end the series. And it felt very much like a purposeful message. One delivered by Brady himself, on his chosen platform – and with Brady ultimately deciding what made the cut in the documentary.

Those questions and that last line were dramatically delivered because that’s what Brady wanted. And that says a great deal. Despite all the talk about Brady playing into his 40s, he just delivered a message that suggests the end is closer than we thought. And it might have as much to do with Brady’s mind as his body.

His words weren’t the only ones that left a lasting impression, either. The series finale also featured his wife, Gisele, adding context to Brady’s mindset.

“These last two years have been very challenging for him in so many ways,” she said. “And I think he just wants – he tells me, ‘I love it so much and I just want to go to work and feel appreciated and have fun.’”

24 PHOTOS
Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady through the years
See Gallery
Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady through the years
NEW YORK CITY, NY - MARCH 11: Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady attend ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA Store Opening Cocktail Party For The Robin Hood Foundation at Ermenegildo Zegna Store 5th Ave on March 11, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by DAVID X PRUTTING/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND - JUNE 14: Model Gisele Bundchen and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sit courtside for Game Four of the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs at the Quicken Loans Arena on June 14, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2007 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 05: Actress/model Gisele Bundchen and athlete Tom Brady attend the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala 'Superheroes: Fashion And Fantasy' at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
BOSTON - MAY 22: Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Gisele Bundchen watch as the Detroit Pistons play against the Boston Celtics during Game Two of the 2008 NBA Eastern Conference finals at the TD Banknorth Garden on May 22, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NO MIDDLE EAST/INDIA/RUSSIA Photos � 2008 Freddy Baez/The Grosby Group - New York Sept 24, 2008 GISELE BUNDCHEN and TOM BRADY out and about in West Village after doing some shopping. PGfrb6 (Photo by Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images)
�2009 RAMEY PHOTO NO SPAIN , NO ITALY, NO MIDDLE EAST, NO RUSSIA Brasil, March 15, 2009 GISELE BUNDCHEN and husband TOM BRADY leave the small town of Horizontina in the south of Brasil, after spending the weekend. Gisele took Tom there to introduce him to her family in the town where she was born. The couple took a small private plane that will take them to the large city Sao Paulo where they will continue with their honeymoon. PGpg68 (Photo by Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 04: NFL player Tom Brady and model Gisele Bundchen attends 'The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
�2010 RAMEY PHOTO EXCLUSIVE! NO SPAIN/ NO ITALY/ NO RUSSIA Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 29, 2010 GISELE BUNDCHEN and TOM BRADY take their baby Benjamin, for lunch at Cafe La Musique in Sao Paulo. The Brady family traveled to Brazil for Gisele's sister wedding. PGrbs68 (Photo by Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images)
�2010 RAMEY PHOTO Gisele Bundchen, Tom Brady and their baby ride on a boat in Paris. 040910 DLM/TM (Photo by Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images)
Tom Brady and model Gisele B�ndchen attends the Costume Institute Gala Benefit to celebrate the opening of the 'American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity' exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 3, 2010 AFP PHOTO /TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Model Gisele Bundchen (L) and NFL player Tom Brady (R) attends the 'Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty' Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/FilmMagic)
BOSTON - APRIL 20: Tom Brady and Gisselle Bundchen kiss in a roof box stand during the seventh inning stretch as the Boston Red Sox face the New York Yankees on the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Tom Brady and Gilele Bundchen attend the 'Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Randy Brooke/WireImage)
Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady attends the Costume Institute Benefit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art May 6, 2013, celebrating the opening of Punk: Chaos to Couture. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 27: Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen are seen on March 27, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Stickman/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen attend the 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images)
Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen (R) gestures alongside US American football player Tom Brady during a closing ceremony ahead of the final football match between Germany and Argentina for the FIFA World Cup at The Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, 2014. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 11: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was met after practice on August 11, 2014 by his wife Gisele Bundchen and their son and daughter. The Patriots held an afternoon practice session on the fields outside of Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots kisses his wife Gisele Bundchen after defeating the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots defeated the Seahawks 28-24. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 30: Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen are seen riding bicycles on August 30, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Stickman/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 30: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen, Robert Kraft, Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman attend the Gisele Bundchen Spring Fling book launch on April 30, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Goat Communications)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: Professional Football player Tom Brady and wife, model Gisele Bundchen attend National Geographic's 'Years Of Living Dangerously' new season world premiere at the American Museum of Natural History on September 21, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) hugs his wife Gisele Bundchen after beating the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Tom Brady (L) and Gisele Bundchen attend the 'Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between' Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for People.com)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

That alone is an interesting statement, particularly the part about being appreciated, which seems to whisper back to the ESPN report alleging friction between Brady and head coach Bill Belichick. It has become clear that there are some festering relationship struggles inside the Patriots. And it’s more than fair to wonder what kind of toll those have taken on Brady. After all, 18 years with any NFL coach can be difficult. But 18 years playing for Belichick is simply unprecedented.

If anything, the entire six-episode series of “Tom vs. Time” gave a solid read on the direction of Brady’s life. One where it becomes more obvious that the “what’s next for Tom?” question is on the doorstep. Not just for Brady, but for the Patriots.

57 PHOTOS
Tom Brady through the years
See Gallery
Tom Brady through the years
FOXBORO, UNITED STATES: The New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady passes against the Indianapolis Colts in the first quarter of their game at Foxboro Stadium 30 September 2001 in Foxboro, MA. AFP PHOTO/John MOTTERN (Photo credit should read JOHN MOTTERN/AFP/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, UNITED STATES: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reacts in pain on the bench after being knocked out of the game with a leg injury in the second quarter of the AFC Championship game 27 January, 2002 at Heinz Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA. The winner will face either the St. Louis Rams or the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. AFP PHOTO/Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, UNITED STATES: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (C) takes a hit from Charles Woodson (R) of the Oakland Raiders on a pass attempt in the last two minutes of the game in their AFC playoff 19 January 2002 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots won 16-13 in overtime. AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, UNITED STATES: New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady shows frustration after failing to make a two point conversion in the 4th quarter against the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium 27 October,2002 in Foxboro, MA. AFP PHOTO/JOHN MOTTERN (Photo credit should read JOHN MOTTERN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, UNITED STATES: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady pitches the ball to a back during first half action of Super Bowl XXXVI 03 February, 2002 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots are playing for the NFL championship. AFP PHOTO/Tom SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, UNITED STATES: AFC Champions New England Patriots players (L to R) Ty Law, Troy Brown, Lawyer Milloy, and Tom Brady strike a pose for photographers during the team's photo and interview day 29 January 2002 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. The Patriots will take on the NFC Champions St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI on 03 February. AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Tom Brady received Best Breakthrough Athlete at ESPN's 10th Annual Espy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Ca. Wednesday, July 10, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 1: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after defeating the Carolina Panthers 32-29 during Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 1: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on before Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Carolina Panthers at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - FEBRUARY 1: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks to toss the ball to a running back against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. The Patriots defeated the Panthers 32-29. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 9: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL game at Gillette Stadium on September 9, 2004 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2005 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Tom Brady of The New England Patriots speaks with the media during media day at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida on February 1, 2005. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 06: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with the Lombardi trophy after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium on February 6, 2005 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Patriots defeated the Eagles 24-21. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 23: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers with the Lamar Hunt Trohpy in the AFC championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2005 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Patriots defeated the Steelers 41-27 to advance to the Super Bowl. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
DENVER - OCTOBER 16: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots heads for the bench after a failed offensive drive against the Denver Broncos as the Broncos defeated the Patriots 28-20 at Invesco Field at Mile High on October 16, 2005 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 8: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots runs off the field after winning the 2005 NFL opening game against the Oakland Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 8, 2005 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Raiders 30-20. (Photo by Travis Lindquist/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 29: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots points out the defense against the New York Giants on December 29, 2007 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 29: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with Richard Seymour #93 after defeating the New York Giants to go undefeated for the season on December 29, 2007 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots stretches before taking on the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is hit as he throws by defensive tackle Barry Cofield #96 and Osi Umenyiora #72 of the New York Giants in the first half during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is hit hard by Michael Strahan #92 of the New York Giants in the second quarter during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots takes the field for the second half of Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots walks on the field in the second quarter of Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 7: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is helped off the field by trainers after he sustained an injury to his left knee in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium September 7, 2008 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 18: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots congratulates Wes Welker #83 after Welker ran the ball in for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans on October 18, 2009 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. BenJarvis Green-Ellis #42 of the Patriots celebrates the play. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25: Tom Brady (#12) of the New England Patriots directs the play during the NFL International Series match between New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium on October 25, 2009 in London, England. This is the third occasion where a regular season NFL match has been played in London. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
DENVER - OCTOBER 11: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots passes against the Denver Broncos during an NFL game at Invesco Field at Mile High on October 11, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after an incomplete pass in the second quarter while taking on the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots screams during pregame before taking on the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots calls out from under center in the first half while taking on the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 29: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talks to Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants following their preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 13: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talks with Darren Sproles #43 of the New Orleans Saints after the game at Gillette Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.The New England Patriots defeated the New Orleans Saints 30-27. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 13: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints shakes hands with quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots following the Patriots 30-27 win at Gillette Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 18: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 18, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 15: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 15: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 8: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates the game-winning touchdown with Julian Edelman #11 in the 4th quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 8, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 22: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a second half touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens during the Patriots 41-7 win at M&T Bank Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19: Tom Brady #12 talks to Shane Vereen #34 of the New England Patriots on a foutrh down in the fourth quarter during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 11: Tom Brady (R) #12 of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Andrew Luck (L) #12 of the Indianapolis Colts after their AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 43 to 22. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 11: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots runs off the field after defeating the Indianapolis Colts in their AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 43 to 22. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots congratulates Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos after the Broncos defeated the Patriots 26 to 16 during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 07: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots walks offsides the field in the first quarter of play against the Miami Dolphins in a game at Sun Life Stadium on September 7, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 07: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots stands on the sideline during pregame workouts before his team met the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on September 7, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 26: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warm up before a game against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium on October 26, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 16: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots signals a first down against the Indianapolis Colts during the third quarter of the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 16, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 07: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up before a game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on December 7, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up before the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoffs game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady talks to the media during a press conference to address the under inflation of footballs used in the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots walks off the field after throwing an interception against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to win Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with team owner Robert Kraft after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 4: Benjamin Brady (L) holds the Lombardi trophy next to his dad, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, on a duck boat during the New England Patriots victory parade on February 4, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons' Brooks Reed (R) puts pressure on New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady during the second quarter of Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady reacts after his team defeated the Atlanta Falcons at Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

It was evident in Brady’s emotional post-Super Bowl moment in February, when he embraced his family behind a curtain and tried to console his children after one of the toughest losses of his career. But even more so, you could see it in Monday’s series finale: With Brady asking the essential questions that define football mortality.

“What are we doing this for?”

 “Who are we doing this for?”

 “Why are we doing this?”

Peyton Manning experienced this introspection before his retirement. Brett Favre. Barry Sanders. John Elway. Ray Lewis. In a way, they’re all part of a rare NFL fraternity – filled with the few stars who get to ask those questions and then depart in their chosen moment.

These are the questions of the players who leave the NFL before the NFL decides to leave them first. Tom Brady is going to be in that class. Eventually, those answers are going to lead him to an ending.

And it might be closer than we realized.

More from Yahoo Sports:
Everything about AL MVP’s White House visit was bizarre
Woman follows NFL players, yells, ‘get off your knees’
California law causes headache for NCAA tournament team
Soccer match suspended after owner runs on field with gun

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.