Yes, it sounds crazy. No, it’s not going to happen. But Brady playing in the XFL in exchange for an equity stake in the league would be a coup both for football and the TB12 portfolio.
Great question, you’re probably thinking. Or an utterly ridiculous one. Either way, you’re not wrong.
But let’s explore this for a moment simply as a thought experiment.
As Brady enters the next chapter in his life as a businessman, any deal to join the XFL would have to come with a significant financial incentive beyond just salary as he builds on an investment portfolio that already includes NFT platform Autograph, TB12 Sports, and clothing and apparel label BRADY Brand. And with the XFL partnering officially with the NFL, placing none other than the GOAT on the marquee alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would bring the XFL two of the most popular, most marketable sports and entertainment figures on the planet to help it get things off the ground in 2023
And more importantly, keep them off the ground.
It’s no secret that professional football leagues not named the NFL have unceremoniously failed over the years. But who wouldn’t want to watch every snap Brady takes, no matter whose logo was on his helmet? The Brady bump means star power, ratings, and revenue for the XFL that leagues like the USFL, AAFL, and UFL (and previous iterations of the XFL itself) could never come remotely close to matching. It would be the opportunity for whichever team TB12 plays for to gain a legitimately global fan base and become an anchor brand name known around the world, with Brady making that team a household name like he did with the New England Patriots more than 20 years ago.
In his retirement statement posted to Instagram on Feb. 1, Brady said that he believes football is an “all-in proposition. If a 100% commitment isn’t there, you won’t succeed.”
It’s a matter of motivation; as the Marvelous Marvin Hagler quote goes, it’s a lot harder to get up, run, lift, and stay with the game plan when you’re sleeping in silk pajamas.
But the motivation here goes way beyond the chance to throw a football to a different set of teammates. Rather, the key to sealing this deal is Johnson and Co. offering Brady an ownership stake in the XFL itself.
With the NFL on board as an official partner and backer of the league, that sort of clout takes on a whole new level of magnitude. The kind that could end up being the single most impactful piece of the Tom Brady investment portfolio one day.
It does look awfully clear that while his family supported the seven-time Super Bowl champion walking away from the game, he can still play at a seriously high level even if he’ll be 45 when the XFL launches. He led the NFL in touchdown passes, yards, and completions in 2021 as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and could surely sling the ball around in the XFL for a one-off season that won’t require a 12-month commitment — especially if he’s an equity partner with a vested interest in doing everything he can to ensure long-term success.
Think about it: The stakes would be lower than he’s used to. He could still hang with his family, have fun, win games, and unquestionably be bigger than the league, something that’s effectively unachievable in the NFL. The GOAT would get to continue doing something he loves, stay in the spotlight, build his business empire, and help the NFL grow its newest partner in the XFL.
It sounds bizarre. It sounds impossible. And to be clear, it’s less likely to happen than The Wire coming back for a sixth season. But it’s also a sneaky kind of win-win for every individual and entity involved, something TB12 has gotten used to his entire pro career. If we really haven’t seen the last of Tom Brady as a football player, running it back one more time for a piece of the XFL — forever — is certainly wacky, but not as altogether wacky as you might think.