On Saturday, the internet went into a frenzy when ESPN reporters Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington broke the supposed news that longtime NFL quarterback Tom Brady was retiring after 22 years in the league.
But then, a funny thing happened.
As countless news outlets, football fans, current and former teammates, and competitors began tweeting out congratulations and similar sentiments, other outlets reported that Brady had yet to reveal his plans for next year to either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization or head coach Bruce Arians.
Suddenly, people began to backtrack. Reporters defended why they reported what they did. Others, including Bucs wide receiver and Brady's teammate Mike Evans, deleted tweets and other social media posts referencing the supposed retirement.
This reporting debacle reminds us of a vital truth, one that has become lost in an age where information spreads quicker than ever, and that is this:
If you really want the truth, you have to go to the source. And in this case the source is Tom Brady.
There are several reasons why this is important. Let's break down a few, and see what you can learn from them.
Brady could change his mind
When it comes to Tom Brady, you have to remember: You're talking about one of the fiercest competitors in the history of professional sports.
Brady's entire career is built on trying to prove others wrong. He was drafted in the sixth round, the 199th pick. He was the seventh (seventh!) quarterback taken in the draft, and began his career as a backup to Patriots starter Drew Bledsoe.
So, even if Brady had practically made up his mind about retirement, the one thing that could possibly change his mind is a bunch of people saying it's a done deal.
Brady may simply be taking his time
"I haven't put a lot of thought into it. We'll just take it day by day."
This was a great example of emotional intelligence, the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions. It follows the simple rule of decision-making: Never make a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion.
By taking his time in making such an important decision, Brady sets a good example in how to keep rational thinking and raw emotions in balance. Doing so can help you avoid saying or doing things you regret and make decisions you're proud of.
(If you want to learn more emotional intelligence rules for life like this one, check out this online course we've put together.)
Brady should be in control of his own narrative
As his employer and the team that gave Brady a lot of control, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers deserve to find out Brady's decision before the public.
Additionally, as reports continue to swarm, so does the speculation for the reasons why Brady is deciding to retire. Is it family? Is it time to focus on other professional endeavors? Is it the physical toll the sport takes on his body?
Is it simply the right time?
In addition to Tom Brady's being the only person who can definitively announce his retirement, he's also the only person who can fully explain his reasons for retiring (when that time has come).
Doesn't he deserve the chance to do so?
But regardless of Brady's decisions and whether or not the rumors are true, there are lessons we can all learn from this situation.
You are in control of your personal brand. Don't let anyone else tell you what you are, or what you're going to do.
And if you fall victim to a false narrative, remember:
Anyone who wants the real truth always has to go back to the source.