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ESPN Suggests Tom Brady, Bill Belichick May Both Retire After Super Bowl LII

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

MINNEAPOLIS (CBS) -- It hasn't been the craziest week in terms of Super Bowl storylines. That was, until Sunday morning.

ESPN's Dianna Russini shared this via Twitter: "Right now on ESPN NFL Countdown it's brought to light about what many in the league have been hearing which this game could possibly be both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady's final games. Both could be hanging it up. Post game could be incredible tonight if this becomes truth."

That would be ... that would be a whopper right there.

The problem is ... how in the world can that be true?

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Brady has for years stated a desire to play into his mid-40s, and his entire future business model is dependent upon him playing at a high level and staying healthy far longer than anybody else has ever done. Belichick at 65 years old might make more sense to retire, but his entire life is football, and he has two of his sons on his staff.

It was also quite odd that, after Russini's tweet, Adam Schefter basically refuted it.

"The sense with Belichick is, he is expected back in new England in 2018," Schefter said, noting that Belichick may not be coaching for many more years.

On Brady, Schefter said "most people believe" the quarterback will be playing in 2018.

"He would be 41 years old next season. His wife, Gisele, is constantly after him to retire," Schefter said. "How many more does he want to win. The thing with Tom Brady is he wants to prove that someone can play at an elite level into his mid-40s. That is his goal. Most people believe right now that he will be back."

There's also the recent history of the team trading away Jimmy Garoppolo, who appeared to have been the obvious choice to take over at quarterback once Brady does retire. If Brady's retirement was only three months away when the team traded Garoppolo, then it must have been news to the Patriots.

Factor in some of ESPN's reporting on the Patriots in recent years, from incorrect PSI data (and a refusal to correct the report), to "lingering sadness" amid a 13-3 Super Bowl season, to dozens of unfounded whispers and accusations from unnamed sources going to print, and the history is slightly spotty.

In any event, the tweet from Russini certainly caused a stir for a few minutes on Sunday. But Schefter's reporting seemed to report the exact opposite situation.

Update: Russini has spoken, and it appears she is backing off her statement just a bit following Schefter and Morton shooting the "report" down. She then stated that she misworded the original tweet.

Another Update: Tom Brady said in a pregame interview that he will indeed be playing football next year.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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