Opinion: Reporting the Retirement

Tom Brady officially announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday. Ben Roethlisberger made the same announcement two weeks ago.

Both quarterbacks will undoubtedly be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2027 when they are first eligible. The two players not only share an incredible and successful career, but also their retirements being slightly spoiled after being reported on early by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and a few other sources.

This column isn’t geared to rip on Schefter or ESPN at all. I envy both parties and could only hope that I have a quarter amount of the success and respect that they both receive.

Schefter is arguably the best NFL reporter around. ESPN is one of, if not, the top sports networks in the world. In my eyes, both of them made a mistake, along with other media sources, in announcing Brady’s retirement too soon.

The job of Schefter and ESPN is to report and update the public on the biggest sports stories in the world. As the worldwide leader in sports, they need to be one of the first to report on any major sports story happening.

Tom Brady’s retirement is one of the most ginormous stories to cover. However, instead of being first to the punch, let Brady have his moment and announce it himself. Same with Big Ben.

Wait until the player announces it themselves before pushing the narrative even more when it’s still not fully confirmed. The only person that can confirm it is the player.

Reporters report, that’s part of the job. No blame on Schefter or ESPN. However, don’t ruin one of the most significant parts of any great athletes or coaches’ careers by reporting their retirement before they ever come out and say anything about it.

Schefter reported on Dec. 4 that Roethlisberger privately told former teammates and organizational members that he expected this to be his final season playing quarterback for the Steelers.

Other media members and organizations ran away with this report and instantly turned it into Big Ben saying it was his final season in the league. At the time, it could be heavily assumed that Roethlisberger was done at the end of the year, but let him make the announcement himself.

You’re more than welcome to predict that they can retire after the year either as a fan or someone who covers the league with access to inside sources, but wait for the player to announce it themselves before continuing to chug the farewell tour along.

Schefter and Jeff Darlington reported last Saturday that Brady was going to be retiring, according to his camp as well. Then reports by Mike Silver came out that he contacted Tampa Bay General Manager Jason Licht the same day saying that he hasn’t made a decision yet.

On his “Let’s Go!” podcast with Jim Gray on Monday, Brady still was noncommittal to retiring, saying,“I’m still going through the process. When the time is right, I’ll be ready to make a decision.”

The early Saturday announcement slightly waters down Brady’s retirement announcement from himself.

Reporters should wait until “the time is right” for every player or coach to make their decisions.