Star quarterback Tom Brady will return to the NFL to play another season after a rare first-round playoff loss, he hinted in an Instagram post on Wednesday.
"In both life and football, failure is inevitable. You dont always win. You can, however, learn from that failure, pick yourself up with great enthusiasm, and place yourself in the arena again," he wrote. "And that's right where you will find me. Because I know I still have more to prove."
Brady, now 42, is the oldest quarterback in the NFL and yet remains one of the league's top players. He is due to be a free agent this offseason and so will be able to sign with any NFL team, and there had been question as to whether the ageless wonder would retire.
In his Instagram post, he heaped praise on the fans, his teammates and the Patriots organization.
"I have been blessed to find a career I love, teammates who go to battle with me, an organization that believes in me, and fans who have been behind us every step of the way. Every one of us that works at Gillette Stadium strived to do their best, spent themselves at a worthy cause, and prepared to fail while daring greatly (h/t Teddy Roosevelt)," he wrote.
"And for that, we've been rewarded with something that the scoreboard won't show -- the satisfaction of knowing we gave everything to each other in pursuit of a common goal. That is what TEAM is all about."
Led by a dominant defense and Brady's steady quarterbacking, the Patriots went 12-4 this season. However, Brady did not impress in a first-round playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, and his final throw was an interception returned for a touchdown. The loss was the earliest playoff exit for the Patriots in a decade.
He said after the loss that it was "pretty unlikely" he would retire.
"I don't know what the future looks like, and I'm not going to predict it," he said. When asked if there was a possibility that he would retire, Brady answered, "I would say it's pretty unlikely, hopefully unlikely."
When asked about bringing Brady back for another season, Patriots coach Bill Belichick deferred, saying, "We just finished the game. We're focused on this game, okay."
Brady has won six Super Bowls for the Patriots in his 20-year career since joining the team as a 6th round pick in 2000.