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As gossip about Tom Brady’s 11-day absence continues, one peculiar explanation keeps cropping up

Tom Brady stood on the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday in Indianapolis.Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

Rumors continue to swirl regarding Tom Brady’s 11-day absence from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ training camp, but one fairly bizarre explanation has repeatedly surfaced. TB12 missed all that practice, the scuttlebutt goes, because he’s going to be on the Fox show “The Masked Singer.”

Last week, former New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman fueled the rumor during a Reddit AMA, or “Ask Me Anything,” Q&A.

“Would Tom tell you if he was on ‘The Masked Singer’?” one person asked.

“Let me be perfectly clear. Tom Brady is on this season of ‘The Masked Singer,’ ” said Edelman, who was promoting his new podcast, “Games With Names.” The last portion was in bold, as if to underscore his certainty, and he added a squirrel emoji for good measure.

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Then on Saturday, Brady made some puzzling remarks during a postgame press conference after his squad’s preseason loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

“We all have really unique challenges to our life,” Brady said in response to a question about his recent absence from camp. Hair askew, he looked uncharacteristically worse for wear as he stood before the cameras.

“I’m 45 years old, man,” Brady continued. “There’s a lot of [expletive] going on. So, you’ve just got to try to figure out life the best you can. And, you know, it’s a continuous process.”

Brady’s agent didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday. Last week, Brady batted away the game show talk, tweeting that he “[w]asn’t on the masked singer last week.”

Still, TMZ Sports reported last week about a leaked clip of “Masked Singer” judge Ken Jeong guessing that Brady was the man behind the mask during a taping, saying at one point, “He just got fined for not showing up to training camp because he is here on ‘The Masked Singer.’ This is seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady!”

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The clip ends before the identity of the contestant, donning an enormous bird mask, is revealed.

If Brady ends up appearing on “The Masked Singer,” he won’t be the first former Patriots star to grace the production’s sound stage.

Rob Gronkowski appeared on the show in 2020 sporting a white tiger mask as he belted out a stirring rendition of “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred, a Brit pop group whose hymn to carnality dominated the charts in the early 1990s.

After his taping, the former Patriots tight end wrote on Instagram: “What a time I had being on @maskedsingerfox. Thanks so much for having me on and helping to improve my one of a kind dance moves and sing my face off with my beautiful vocals! The White Tiger 🐯 walks up and just takes presence on that stage! Learned so much during my time on the show, thank you and huge shout out to all my new fans of my singing and performances!”

Luminaries from the rough-and-tumble world of politics have also competed on the Fox show, including former New York City mayor and embattled Trump consigliere Rudy Giuliani, who appeared on the program last winter.

As you may recall, Brady, too, has previously made headlines for his singing, although it may not quite be on par with his gridiron prowess. Back in 2018 he posted videos of himself crooning along to U2 songs when the band performed in Boston.

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“The rumors are true,” Brady captioned one video. “I’ll be joining @U2 on the remainder of the #u2eitour.”

The QB, known for his quirky social media presence, was merely being facetious at the time.

He does, however, have a golden parachute waiting for him from Fox, having reportedly inked a $375 million football commentary deal with the network that’ll kick in once he hangs up his cleats.

Salaries for top NFL broadcasters have skyrocketed over the past few years, but Brady’s reported deal is in a whole different stratosphere. Tony Romo, CBS’s top NFL analyst, set the bar when he signed a 10-year, $180 million deal to remain with the network in February 2021. Troy Aikman’s five-year deal with ESPN is for more than $90 million, a slightly higher average annual rate than what Romo makes.

Asked Monday about Brady’s rumored appearance on “The Masked Singer,” a Fox spokesperson declined to comment. The network says it never divulges contestant identities until the singers are unmasked on the air.

The show returns to the airwaves on Sept. 21.



Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.