Typically, missing a few practices for personal reasons isn’t a huge deal.

But when you’re Tom Brady, who is not only the best quarterback in NFL history, but also a worldwide icon, it’s typically different.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback missed the third of six recent practices on Thursday, prompting immediate curiosity and intrigue from the media. Brady, obviously, has always been known for his immaculate levels of dedication and commitment, so the fact that he’s not practicing -especially when the Buccaneers are considered Super Bowl contenders- should initially raise eyebrows.

Head coach Todd Bowles explained Brady’s absence after Thursday’s practice, but it turned out that Brady isn’t just missing the most recent practice – he’ll be missing the foreseeable future.

“Tom has been excused today,” Bowles told reporters Thursday. “He’ll be back sometime around after Tennessee. He’s going to deal with some personal things. This is something we talked about before training camp started. We allotted this time because he wanted to get in and get chemistry with the guys and go through two weeks of training camp, [while] knowing he wasn’t going to play the first two games.

“We trust him. We talked about it. It was scheduled way before training camp and he will not be here until after Tennessee.”

In the big picture, this isn’t a big deal, mostly. Brady will miss around three practices, tops. And he wasn’t playing against the Tennessee Titans due to the joint practices before that game, as Bowles mentioned, to begin with.

The biggest gripe coming from Bowles’ given timeline is that Brady will miss out on reps to familiarize himself with both Robert Hainsey and the largely-new group of tight ends.

It’s not like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have seen a ton of practice time. And there’s a good chance they partake in any heavy activities until the regular season, anyway. Russell Gage was hurt on Wednesday and is now considered day-to-day with a hamstring injury; and, Julio Jones has always been on a light practice schedule during the preseason.

Bowles also knows Brady knows the Buccaneers system like the back of his hand. His 22 years of NFL experience doesn’t hurt, either.

“If he didn’t have the years and experience that the guy has and comes in here and works diligently, I would definitely be concerned,” said Bowles.

But where things get intriguing is when Bowles was asked about his confidence level regarding Brady’s spot in the Buccaneers starting lineup by the time Week 1 rolls around.

“Mine is pretty high,” he said.

Intentionally or not, Bowles left the door open to ask the question: what is going on?

“Pretty high” isn’t a “yes”, which would have completely closed the door. Fortunately, Bowles later clarified himself when given the opportunity.

“There’s no doubt,” said Bowles. “Obviously, there’s always going to be doubt, but I have a pretty high level of confidence.”

General manager Jason Licht backed Bowles up, as well.

“He’s focused as ever,” Licht said on 95.3 WDAE’s Ronnie & T-Kras Thursday. He’ll come back even more focused. It’s the least of our concerns … We’re not worried about it.”

The fact it was preplanned is easy to second guess, but, all we currently have is Bowles’ and Licht’s word, so we have to believe it.

At the same time, it’s hard to fully believe everything going on with Brady after the NFL investigation that revealed he was having discussions with the Miami Dolphins at a crucial juncture during the Buccaneers 2021 season.

And, now, more speculation is surrounding the team. More players will likely be asked about their thoughts on the subject and what they know.

The timing of this really couldn’t be any worse. But, most often, optics are just that at the end of the day – optics. They don’t always contain the whole truth.

If this were anyone but Brady, the level of speculation would not be anywhere close to where it currently is.

But when going from Brady’s conversations with Miami, to his retirement, then the un-retirement, then the supposed Arians rumors, to the NFL’s findings that confirmed Brady’s conversations with Miami; and then, adding Brady’s NFL and worldwide stature into the mix, it’s easy to see why Brady can’t help himself from being a distraction for the Buccaneers in 2022.

You can check out Bowles’ full presser, below:

Featured image via Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports