That is the most plausible scenario to this reporter, who has covered Brady's 20-year career and has come to know him beyond the football field -- albeit at an arm's length -- over that time.
By sending out a dark photograph of himself walking the tunnel at Gillette Stadium, with no words attached to it, Brady lit a media-based firecracker that has ignited widespread discussion centered around the question, "What does it mean?"
Only Brady has the clear-cut answer. Those close to him relayed to me not to read anything into it football-wise, and ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter tweeted that he was told it is not related to Brady's football future. Maybe it was a preview of an upcoming Super Bowl commercial.
Here's hoping Brady clears it up soon. If and when he does, it wouldn't surprise me if he explains that he was attempting to pay homage to the memory of Bryant, whom Brady revered. Of the many iconic photos of Bryant over the years, one is a dimly lit shot of him walking the tunnel.
An iconic image that has sparked some thoughts on Tom Brady's post last night ... pic.twitter.com/M6l3GFP4DB— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 31, 2020
Brady has walked the tunnel for 20 years in the NFL with the same team, just as Bryant did for 20 years in the NBA with the same team.
Maybe Brady liked the symmetry -- in numbers and image.
If you believe that scenario, like I am inclined to, consider how reaction to Brady's tweet would be different if he had simply included a few words along with the picture.
"Thinking of you, Kobe."
"From 12 to 24 -- always on my mind."
Instead, Brady left it all open to interpretation, which in today's fast-paced social media world can lead things to spiral out of control quickly. Add in the backdrop of Brady's uncertain future, which is arguably the biggest non-Kobe story in all of sports, and it becomes an inferno.
Brady, of course, could have corrected it all quickly on Thursday with a simple amendment to the post. He didn't, which means speculation will continue to swirl.
But I have a hard time believing that Brady, on the Thursday before the Super Bowl, would want to shift the focus on to himself. That runs counter to what I believe are the core beliefs of the quarterback and person I've covered the past 20 years.