By Joey Bachich
Tom Brady, the 23-year veteran of the NFL, has officially retired with one of the most decorated careers in all of sports. In a video he posted on his Instagram on Wed., Brady said goodbye to the sport he has been playing his whole life.
“I’m retiring, for good,” Brady said in the video he posted to Twitter and Instagram. “I know the process was a pretty big deal last time, so when I woke up this morning, I figured I'd just press record and let you guys know first. I won't be long-winded. You only get one super emotional retirement essay, and I used mine up last year, so really thank you guys so much to every single one of you for supporting me.”
Brady ends his career with seven Super Bowls, 10 AFC championships, five Super Bowl MVPs, three regular season MVPs, and more statistical records than any other player of all time. He won his division 19 times and had been to 14 conference championships in his career. He has the most passing yards, touchdowns, wins, starts by a player, playoff wins, and most Super Bowl wins by a player or team.
Brady got his start at the University of Michigan in 1996 where he would be the backup until he earned the starting job in 1998 and 1999. Brady came in not touted as the next big thing, but just as a solid quarterback with athletic limitations. As a starter, Brady went 20-5 in his two years at Michigan and was not in favor of the NFL scouts heading into the 2000 draft.
Reading a lot of the old draft descriptions of Brady, many teams had “undersized, limited, skinny, not a great arm, and not have the ability to drive the ball down the field.” Looking at these, they were not wrong about his attributes, but what Brady lacked in size he made up for in his will to be great.
Some of the positive draft comments noted Brady was “smart, composed, [had] good accuracy, and [was a] team leader.”
Brady never turned into a runner or the guy with the big arm, but he outworked every other person in the NFL. Brady had some of the greatest intangibles of all time, and it showed on the field. The Patriots saw something special in Brady and took him with the 199th pick of the draft. For Brady, all he needed was a chance.
Robert Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, famously tells the story of the first time he met Brady.
"I still have the image of Tom Brady coming down the old Foxboro stadium steps with that pizza box under his arm, a skinny beanpole, and when he introduced himself to me and said 'Hi Mr. Kraft,” recalled Kraft. "And he looked me in the eye and said 'I'm the best decision this organization has ever made.'”
Brady got his first NFL start in 2001 when New England’s original starter Drew Bledsoe was knocked out with an injury, and from that moment on Brady never looked back. He won the Super Bowl that year against the St. Louis Rams and won Super Bowl MVP. The years would fly by and the Patriots had started a dynasty, winning another two Super Bowls in 2005 and 2006 and winning another Super Bowl MVP in 2005 against the Cardinals.
2008 was a tough year for Brady when he lost his first Super Bowl to the New York Giants after an undefeated season and then tore his ACL and MCL in September of that same year. In 2012, Brady won a regular season MVP and had his sights set on another Super Bowl run. Even though the Patriots did make it to another Super Bowl, they lost again to the New York Giants. After another Super Bowl loss, Brady did something not many quarterbacks did and took a pay cut in 2013 when his contract was up.
This is where the Patriots got more money to spend on defense and helped the Patriots in building another dynasty. In 2015, the Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl since Brady had arrived and he had gotten his third Super Bowl MVP.
For the first four games of the 2016-2017 season, Brady was suspended for the first four games due to the “Deflategate” scandal where the Patriots deflated footballs to make them easier to throw and catch against the Colts in the playoffs. This trial went on for months and had to go through two court systems to land on the four game suspension. By the end of that season, Brady would complete the largest Super Bowl comeback of all time after being down 28-3 late in the third quarter and eventually winning 34-28 in OT. This would give Brady yet another Super Bowl MVP.
From 2018-2019, Brady made two straight Super Bowls, losing the first to the Philadelphia Eagles and winning the second against the Los Angeles Rams. These marked his final two Super Bowl runs with the New England Patriots.
In 2020, Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and in his very first season with them, he won the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs and won yet another Super Bowl MVP. The last few seasons for the 45-year-old were not bad, but the Buccaneers never returned to the Super Bowl and the victory against the Chiefs would give Brady his seventh and final ring.
For Brady, it was never about the attributes or the strength of his arm. It was about his willingness to work harder than everyone else in the offseason and control everything he put into his body when getting older. The longevity of Brady should be studied by NFL players today and might not ever be recreated ever again.
His unequaled willpower to win big games and to be the calmest man in the worst of storms are some of the most powerful mental standards anyone has ever seen in the NFL or any sport. Brady retires as the greatest NFL player of all time and possibly the greatest athlete of all time.
A Message from the Writer
Tom Brady has been playing football longer than I have been alive. This means that I have been watching this man play the game that I love for my whole life, that is not an exaggeration. I am going to miss watching greatness every Sunday from #12, from game winning drives to throwing the NFL tablets on the sideline in frustration. His patented “Let’s Go!” yell at the beginning of every game, to the end where confetti would be falling down and a Super Bowl trophy would yet again be held by Tom Brady. Nobody will ever move me the way that the kid from San Mateo did, and all of us should be thankful to be able to have watched history for 23 special years.
Thank you, Tom.