When asked during an interview with ESPN that aired Sunday if there was any chance his ninth Super Bowl would be his NFL swan song, Brady said: "Zero," curling his thumb and fingers into a "0" shape to emphasize the point.
"I feel like I'm asked that a lot and I feel like I repeat the same answer, but no one wants to believe me," said the 41-year-old Brady, who has previously said he wants to play until he reaches age 45.
"I’ve set a goal for myself at 45 and like I said before, it’s very hard to make it that far," he said. "I know how hard it was this year, you know, and the commitment it takes and hopefully I’ve learned from some of the things that happened this year to be better next year. But every year’s tough."
The Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 37-31, in overtime last Sunday to win their fourth AFC title in five seasons and become the third team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to reach at least three consecutive Super Bowls. A win next Sunday in Atlanta will bring New England its sixth NFL title, all of which will have come with Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as the head coach.
Brady will turn 42 on Aug. 3 and is currently under contract with the Patriots through next season. He declined to say what factors would lead him to step away from the game.
"I’m gonna know when the time’s right and I’m gonna feel like, ‘OK, I’ve kind of had enough,'" he said. "I don’t quite feel like that yet. I feel like I’ve still made a lot of improvements and I still feel like I can continue to do it at a championship level. I think that’s where I was at before and that’s still where I’m at now."
On Sunday morning, thousands of Patriots fans turned up at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., for a now-familiar midwinter ritual in New England: the Super Bowl send-off rally.
"We're not at the end yet," Brady told a sea of fans that covered the entire field and filled most of one side of the lower seating bowl. "We've got one more to go."
The five-time Super Bowl champion then led the crowd in a chant of "We're still here!" before tossing the microphone aside to more cheers, and the Patriots headed off for buses starting them on their way to Atlanta.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.