A leaked clip from the upcoming season of The Masked Singer has reignited rumors of Tom Brady's participation on the celebrity singing competition during his more than 10-day absence from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The clip, which was obtained and shared by TMZ Sports, shows comedic actor Ken Jeong, a judge on the show, say that a contestant dressed as a hummingbird had a disguise and performance that was "screaming out like a football legend," before guessing that the celebrity was Brady after initially throwing out Peyton Manning, Brady's longtime on-field rival, as a possible guess.
"He just got fined for not showing up to training camp because he is here on 'The Masked Singer,'" Jeong said, although inaccurately noting a fine, rather than an excused absence. "This is seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady!"
Brady addressed the growing conspiracy theory that he was actually participating in the taping of the Masked Singer while away from to the Bucs for more than 10 days and returning to the team on Monday.
"Wasn't on the masked singer (sic) last week. Was wearing a mask though," Brady quote-tweeted with a video showing someone wearing only a helmet and his BRADY brand underwear doing stunts on a motorcycle -- although unlikely to actually be the quarterback himself.
Brady agreed to a 10-year, $375 million to become FOX Sports' new NFL lead analyst whenever he retires, which was among several examples provided in a Reddit post making the claim of his participation in the singing competition.
Brady returned to the Buccaneers on Monday and reportedly took the absence in order to fulfill plans made with his family prior to his un-retirement announcement earlier this year.
League sources with knowledge of the situation told Pro Football Network that Brady made a commitment to spend time with his family, primarily his wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, at an exclusive resort in the Bahamas during his time away from the team, which was planned before his decision to return for his 23rd NFL season in March, just weeks after his initial retirement announcement.
"His commitment to family and having a personal life was at the heart of this hiatus from football, and there was no medical emergency, as speculated, or other reasons," Pro Football Network wrote, which was re-shared on Twitter by NFL reporter Dov Kleiman.
Brady was initially absent from the Bucs' practice on August 11 and expected to be away from the team for several days, head coach Todd Bowles said at the time via NFL Network Senior Insider Ian Rapoport.
"#Bucs QB Tom Brady is not at practice today for personal, non-football reasons," Rapoport tweeted at the time.. "Coach Todd Bowles will discuss it after practice, but my understanding is he won't be present for a few days."
Rapoport added that "Brady is fine and the team is on board with his reasons for being absent," but noted that it would "be a little bit" of time before the seven-time Super Bowl champion was expected to return.
Bowles later confirmed that Brady was expected to be away from the team until after the Bucs' preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on August 20, according to Rapoport.
On Sunday (August 21), Bowles told reporters that Brady would return to the team early this week, according to Rapoport, who said he was told that the seven-time Super Bowl champion was expected to be with the team on Monday.
The Buccaneers had already ruled Brady out for their first preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on August 13 prior to his initial reported absence.
Brady, who turned 45 earlier this month, announced his retirement, then un-retirement this offseason ahead of his 23rd NFL season.
Brady is the NFL's all-time passing leader for yards (84,520) and touchdowns (624), as well as quarterback wins (243), among numerous other records.
The San Mateo native spent his first 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, leading the franchise to an NFL record six Super Bowl championships (tied with the Steelers), before joining the Buccaneers as a free agent in March 2020, which resulted in Tampa Bay winning its second Super Bowl in franchise history, becoming the first NFL team to win a Super Bowl in its home stadium, in February 2021.