There have been some questions this offseason about whether or not Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is still “all in” after his brief retirement earlier this year.

Brady is obviously nearing the end of his career. And it’s more than reasonable to wonder if he has the same fire to win that he’s exhibited for the duration of his career.

Recent comments from former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, however, could provide the fire that Brady has appeared to lack this fall.

Buccaneers Payton
Jan 2, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton talks to running back Alvin Kamara (41) as he walks off the field in the second quarter against the Carolina Panthers at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Payton recently spoke with The Times-Picayune’s Jeff Duncan about a variety of topics.

The NFC South, unsurprisingly, came up.

And Payton, also unsurprisingly, picked the Saints to win the division.

“The Saints will win that division,” said Payton. “Tampa has some injuries and other stuff they’re dealing with, and the Saints know they can beat Tampa. That (Saints) locker room feels like, ‘We can win that game anytime we play them.’ I know that.”

Payton didn’t throw any shade at the Buccaneers. Part of his heart is certainly still with the Saints so it’s understandable that he thinks New Orleans will win the division.

But I think we all know how Brady operates. He’s a lot like Michael Jordan in that he finds motivation from perceived disrespect. Brady can turn anything into a slight and use it as fuel.

And I’d bet that’s what’s going to happen this season. Once the games start, we’ll see the same fire from Brady that we’ve seen for the last two decades. And I’m sure Payton’s words will be ringing in his ears — especially when the Buccaneers meet the Saints this season for a pair of NFC South showdowns.

Payton’s prediction may have woken up the Saints’ worst nightmare.

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