Even pros need a break. Tom Brady raised eyebrows when he briefly stepped away from NFL preseason — but he’s attempted to offer sports fans some clarity since.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles revealed during an August 11 press conference that the quarterback, 45, was “excused” from training. “He’s going to deal with some personal things,” Bowles said at the time, noting that Brady’s leave had been predetermined by the coaching staff. “[There’s] something he needs to handle.”

The former New England Patriots player returned to the field after 11 days, offering reporters a cryptic explanation on August 27. “It’s all personal, you know. Everyone’s got different situations that they’re dealing with,” the California native said. “We all have really unique challenges to our life. I’m 45 years old, man. There’s a lot of s–t going on, so just gotta figure out life the best you can. It’s a continuous process.”

At the time, Brady asserted that he was “ready to go” and wouldn’t let outside distractions deter from his game. “I feel good,” he noted. “I’ve played football for a long time. I’m pretty good at it. Doesn’t take long for me to remember how to play it.”

The three-time NFL MVP announced his retirement from pro football in February, only to walk back his decision less than two months later. “I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible,” he tweeted in March. “I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa.”

Brady shares two children — Benjamin, 12, and Vivian, 9 — with his wife, Gisele Bündchen. He is also the father of son Jack, 15, with ex Bridget Moynahan. Upon announcing his retirement, the Michigan University alum stated that it was “time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention,” including his family.

Returning to the sports spotlight, however, has made juggling fatherhood and football even more of a challenge. “You can’t stop your life even though sports is happening,” Brady told guest Jim Gray during the September 5 episode of his “Let’s Go” podcast. “Even though I’m playing in my 23rd year, I have a [son who’s a] freshman in high school that is playing football, too. I have a 12-year-old that is going through his life. I have a 9-year-old that is going through her life. And I have parents.”

He continued: “Once football season comes, I really lock in on what I need to do and how I need to focus and the kind of commitment I need to make for the organization.”

Ahead of his short break, Brady exclusively told Us Weekly that he could “do a better job at” balancing his responsibilities. “I think for me, it’s just a matter of making sure in the off-season, I try to cover a lot of things and make sure a lot of things are taken care of,” he said in June. “And then when a football season comes, I can really focus on football.”

Scroll down for Brady’s explanation for his leave of absence in his own words:

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