Tom Brady throws a pass against The Washington Football Team at FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland, January 9, 2021 Photo Credit: All-Pro Reels from District of Columbia, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady announced in a video message on social media that he is finally retiring from the NFL for good.

Tom Brady via NFL on ESPN YouTube

Brady, 45, is widely considered the best to ever play his position and potentially the greatest NFL star of all time, following a 23-year career that saw him go to 15 Pro Bowls and win five league MVP awards. His accolades are so far-reaching that his name fills the record books. He leaves the game as its all-time leader in completions (7,753), yards (89, 214), and touchdowns (649).

After winning six titles playing for Coach Bill Belichick in New England, Brady mulled retirement before signing with Tampa Bay in 2020. He would go on to win his seventh Super Bowl in his first year for the Buccaneers. There, he would be reunited with his old Patriot partner in crime, Rob Gronkowski.

Tom Brady in Washington Football Team vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers from FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland, November 14th, 2021 (All-Pro Reels Photography)` Photo Credit: All-Pro Reels from District of Columbia, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The Florida sunshine seemed suited for a guy near retirement anyway

Unfortunately for Brady and the Bucs, the last two seasons have been a bit of a downward spiral. They captured the woeful NFC South. But at 8-9, they didn’t look like they had a prayer of advancing in the postseason. They were bounced by the Dallas Cowboys in the opening round, 31-14, the team looked old and tired, even their forever-young signal caller.

Brady certainly was no slouch during the regular season. He still threw for threw for 4694  yards and 25 touchdowns.

However, he already (half-heartedly) put off retirement last year to return for one more round. He famously announced he was quitting, had a flirtation with joining the Miami Dolphins organization, and then finally acquiesced to returning to Tampa for 2022.

But the fatigue and frustration were already there. And the whispers grew into full-fledged gossip as the season progressed: This looked more and more like it was Tom Brady’s final season. At least in Tampa.

Tom Brady with Wes Welker and Randy Moss in the background. Photo Credit: Denis Laflamme, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Now, he’s confirmed that he won’t be playing for anyone in 2023. Brady is, as he puts it into his own words, retiring “for good” this time.

In his farewell video, the future NFL Hall of Famer was (as usual) reserved and reminiscent. Like so many of his famous fourth-quarter comebacks, he tried to stay calm and cool in the moment.

Tom Brady via Tampa Bay Buccaneers YouTube

Still, Tom Brady couldn’t hide a hint of emotion as he bid farewell to those who helped him on his epic journey.

“My family, my friends, my teammates, my competitors. I could go on forever. There’s too many,” Brady stated. “Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream. I wouldn’t change a thing. Love you all.”

When his story is eventually written, Brady’s will be about an unlikely hero who rose to the level of royalty. He ascended to heights never before reached, all while coming from nearly the bottom of the heap.

He was famously picked 199th overall in the 2000 draft by the Patriots, behind six other quarterbacks. During his rookie campaign, he played in only one game and didn’t exactly look like a future great: The University of Michigan product finished the season having only gone one-for-three for six yards.

Tom Brady during his time with the New England Patriots via TB12 Sports YouTube

In 2001, a serious injury to franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe would necessitate the start of the Brady Era in New England.

What followed was the greatest run that any quarterback, head coach, or franchise would ever embark on in NFL history. After upsetting the dominant St. Louis Rams and ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’ in Super Bowl XXXVI the next 17 years were like a whirlwind.

What New England was able to accomplish in the 2000s and 2010s not only superseded anything ever seen in the NFL, it rivaled storied franchises from any sport and any era. The Murderers’ Row Yankees of 1920s Major League Baseball or the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens from the 1950s-70s come to mind… but that’s about it.

Tom Brady with the New England Patriots during a game against the Minnesota Vikings on September 14, 2014. Photo Credit: Andrew Campbell, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The numbers alone put up by Brady and his teams over the years is astronomical. When Joe Montana retired as the gold standard of Super Bowl QBs, he had four rings. TB12 has almost twice that many. And he’s played in a whopping TEN title games. The ability to stay healthy and play that well for so many years will likely never be seen by sports fans’ eyes again.

To say that Brady’s departure from a league where he will always be a figurehead is hard to overstate. His mark on the NFL and the game of football is unparalleled. And his track record of winning is nearly unfathomable. His road to Canton is literally paved in gold.

As one of his successors in signal calling, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said about the G.O.A.T., It’s special to see the things he has done in this league. The way he was able to change the position — the longevity of great success. That’s the crazy part: looking at his career, he has never really had a down year.”

Patrick Mahomes celebrates a victory in the 2023 AFC Championship Game via NFL YouTube

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