New NFL season more challenging: Tom Brady

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Tom Brady has confirmed he contracted coronavirus shortly after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl and he predicts this season will be even more challenging for the NFL.

The 44-year-old led the Buccaneers to glory in February - his record-extending seventh Super Bowl ring - and celebrated accordingly with his team-mates over the following days, including a boat parade for the newly-crowned champions.

Brady has since been fully vaccinated, along with the whole roster, as the Bucs get ready for a new campaign.

With vaccinated players permitted to leave their hotels on the road and visit families this coming season, however, as well as fans returning to stadiums, the veteran quarterback believes the changes could have an impact.

Asked if he already had coronavirus, Brady told the Tampa Bay Times: "Yeah. And I think it's going to be challenging this year.

"I actually think it's going to play more of a factor this year than last year, just because of the way what we're doing now and what the stadium is going to look like and what the travel is going to look like and the people in the building and the fans.

"It's not like last year, although we're getting tested like last year. It's going to be, I definitely think guys are going to be out at different points and we've just got to deal with it."

Four Bucs players have already gone on the reserve/Covic-19 list: Ryan Succop, Ndamukong Suh, Nick Leverett and Earl Watford.

Head coach Bruce Arians and his team are seeking to become the first since the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004 to retain the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Tampa Bay open the season against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday and Brady, who is preparing for his 22nd season at the age of 44, reiterated last week he has no plans to retire just yet.

"I'll know when the time's right. If I can't... if I'm not a championship-level quarterback, then I'm not gonna play," he told Peter King's Football Morning in America.

"If I'm a liability to the team, I mean, no way. But if I think I can win a championship, then I'll play."

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