Tom Brady spent 40 days of the 2022 NFL offseason retired before opting to return to the Buccaneers on eve of free agency. His decision to unretire had a ripple effect on the NFC’s pecking order, as Tampa Bay instantly became one of the best teams in the conference and the NFL.
But Brady’s return didn’t just impact the NFL’s on-field product. It had an off-the-field impact as well.
The NFL was in the process of building its schedule for 2022 when Brady announced that he was coming back. While that provided a boost to the overall strength of competition in the NFL, it also prompted schedule-makers to restart the scheduling process basically from scratch.
“When Tom Brady retired, we were concerned about the strength of the NFC package because there were so many terrific Tampa Bay games we were looking at,” NFL broadcasting chief Howard Katz told the Los Angeles Times.
“Then a month later he unretires and we sort of started all over again.”
It’s easy to understand why the NFL would have to rebuild its schedule to accommodate Brady’s return. The seven-time Super Bowl champion is one of the league’s most recognizable figures. His teams are routinely competitive and, as such, the NFL likes to put them in prime-time slots to maximize their chances of getting a noteworthy stand-alone game.
As Katz mentions, reshuffling the schedule was a boon for the league as it looked to strengthen the NFC package. The NFC isn’t particularly strong this season and the Buccaneers profile as one of the conference’s best teams. As such, they are a more appealing prime-time draw than some of the conference’s other contenders because they have Brady.
Soon enough, we’ll see just how many prime-time games the NFL gives Brady and the Bucs. For now, all we know is that Tampa Bay will play Seattle in Munich on Nov. 13, 2022. The Week 10 clash will be the NFL’s first game in Germany.