Tom Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion who is one of two quarterbacks to lead two teams to championships, is retiring after 22 seasons in the NFL.
The 44-year-old Brady’s company, TB12 Sports, and ex-teammate Julian Edelman appeared to confirm Brady’s decision in separate tweets.
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ESPN first reported Brady’s decision to call it quits days after his second season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended in an NFC divisional-round loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
After the loss, the quarterback was immediately met with questions about his future and decided to walk away from the game.
The superstar quarterback retires as the league’s all-time leader in passing yards (84,520), touchdown passes (624), completions (7,263) and attempts (11,317). He finished second in fourth quarter comebacks with (42), one behind one of his biggest rivals, Peyton Manning.
Brady’s accolades are astounding.
Not only does Brady have more Super Bowl rings than every other team in the NFL, he was a five-time Super Bowl MVP. He added 15 Pro Bowl appearances, three All-Pro selections, three MVP awards, and he was named to the Hall of Fame All-Decade Team for the 2000s and 2010s.
The New England Patriots selected Brady, a scrawny quarterback out of Michigan, with the No. 199 pick of the 2000 NFL Draft. He joined a team that already had a quarterback who had led the Patriots to a Super Bowl in Drew Bledsoe.
When Bledsoe injured himself during the 2001 season, it was Brady who replaced him, and he immediately was thrust into the spotlight. Brady helped lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl title that year, bouncing Bledsoe from the mantle and starting his ascension to stardom.
Brady, along with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, helped build the Patriots into the dynasty it became. The quarterback only missed one season due to injury during his reign in New England — the 2008 campaign during which he tore his ACL.
Missing the 2008 regular season followed the Patriots’ failure to complete an undefeated season the previous year. They lost the 2008 Super Bowl to the New York Giants. While it seemed at the time Brady’s career was hitting a downturn, he would only get better.
After that Super Bowl loss, the Patriots made five more appearances, winning three more titles. Brady won the league MVP award at age 40 after the 2017 season. He led the league with 4,577 passing yards and had 32 touchdown passes that season. It marked the fourth straight year he had thrown fewer than 10 interceptions.
Brady’s run with the Patriots wasn’t always filled with parades, glitz and glamour. He was the subject of an NFL investigation after he was accused of directing team personnel to deflate footballs during the 2014 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The case went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Brady was suspended for four games, and the circuit court eventually upheld the suspension after it was initially overturned by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Brady and the Pats won the 2015 Super Bowl despite the investigation and discipline.
Brady’s relationship with Belichick was also under a microscope during their final years together. Multiple reports during Brady’s final seasons with the Patriots suggested friction between the two. The issue appeared to stem from Belichick preparing for a future without Brady and the quarterback insisting he still had more fuel in the tank.
It all culminated in a loss to the Tennessee Titans during the 2019 AFC playoffs and Brady’s departure.
Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and brought former Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski with him. The team later added receiver Antonio Brown. Each player had a hand in the Bucs 2021 Super Bowl win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Brady and the Bucs tried for the repeat this season.
Brady had one of his best statistical seasons ever in 2021. He finished with a career-high 5,316 passing yards to go with 43 touchdown passes. It was the first time in his career he threw 40 or more touchdown passes in consecutive seasons. It was only the third time he threw 40 or more passes in a single season.
While his decision to retire was approaching, it was unclear when it would happen. Brady often answered questions about retirement saying he might play into his 50s.
“I’ll know when the time’s right. If I can’t … if I’m not a championship-level quarterback, then I’m not gonna play. If I’m a liability to the team, I mean, no way. But if I think I can win a championship, then I’ll play,” he told NFL journalist Peter King in August.
Brady said in a podcast interview in May he would consider playing until he was 50 years old.
“I have a lot to give. I think there’s a lot of time and energy still focused on being a great quarterback, that when that’s done, although I’m a little fearful of it ending, I am open to the belief that there will be a lot of opportunities for me to do things that I haven’t had a chance to do, that I really think I can help a lot of people,” he said on Hodinkee Radio.
The 50-year-old mark was a topic during the season as well.
Before a regular-season victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in October, Brady told Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm he could play well into his 50s.
“I really think I can play as long as I want,” he told the legendary sportscasters. “I could literally play until I’m 50 or 55 if I wanted to do. I don’t think I will obviously… my physical body won’t be the problem. I think it’ll just be, I’m just missing too much of life with my family.”
He and teammate Gronkowski answered the internet’s burning questions in a taped segment for the team in September as well. Both players were wearing reflective sunglasses and Brady was in a bucket hat.
“Can Tom Brady play until 50 years old?” Gronkowski read.
“Wow, seems to be a really hot question lately,” Brady said. “’Can Tom Brady play till 50?’ Like, 50 years old. I don’t find it so difficult, and plus living in Florida it’s kind of a retiree state. I feel like I can just play and glide into retirement. I think I can, I think it’s a yes.”
He made clear after the season that his decision would come down to what would be best for him and his family, noting that his wife Gisele Bundchen would always have a lot of input in his decision.
“It pains her to see me get hit out there. And she deserves what she needs from me as a husband, and my kids deserve what they need from me as a dad,” Brady said on the “Let’s Go!” podcast. “And I’m gonna spend some time with them and give them what they need because they’ve really been giving me what I need the last six months to do what I love to do. I said this a few years ago, it’s what relationships are all about. It’s not always what I want. It’s what we want as a family. And I’m gonna spend a lot of time with them and figure out in the future what’s next.”
Brady admitted that he doesn’t need a farewell tour because it would be “distracting” for him.
“I’m really an ultimate — my enjoyment comes from not a recognition of kind of what I’ve accomplished as a player in the league,” Brady said. “My enjoyment comes from the competition more so than anything. Even yesterday, I was thinking about competing. I was thinking about, this whole year, about competing. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than that. So when the time comes to think about post-career and second career, I’ll think about those things. It’s just when you’re 44, I guess you get asked about that a lot. And a lot of people thought I was done playing football in 2015. A lot of people in 2016 said, ‘You’re done.’ A lot of people in 2018, and when I left the Patriots, they said, ‘You’re done.’”
It appears Brady could be satisfied with what’s to come next – countless tribute videos, his jersey retired in both the Patriots and Buccaneers’ organizations and finally the gold jacket and his bust at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
Love him or hate him, fans got to see what anyone would love to watch for more than two decades – a winning quarterback always at the top of his game putting together two separate careers in one winning championship after championship and keeping his teams in contention for a tile year in and year out.
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There may be quarterbacks flashier with bigger arms and faster legs who come and go in the league, but the consistency and the number of championships he brought to his teams may never be seen again.