After a rocky retirement leak and some fast backpedaling, the news most everyone expected was made official: Tom Brady has retired. After 22 seasons in the NFL, the greatest QB of all time has decided to hang up his cleats and spend more time with his family. The 7-time super bowl champion is unmatched in damn-near every NFL stat category and after a brief 2-season fling with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be forever remembered as a New England Patriot (even if they are not mentioned in his retirement message). At 44-years old, Brady certainly didn’t look to be declining in skill this past season which makes his retirement even more respectable. He’s walking away from the game he loves while still playing at the highest level at an unthinkable age. Whether you loved him or hated him, there is no QB in the history of football that compares in terms of accomplishment.
An underdog in the NFL from day 1, Brady played with a massive chip on his shoulder and a competitive drive that pushed him to be the best every single day. The long talked about 6th round, 199th overall selection, Brady always gave his team a chance to win and almost single-handedly carried many of those teams to championship victories. Brady won 3 MVPs and finished in the top 3 in MVP voting 5 other times. His durability was a thing of beauty, missing a total of 19 games since becoming a starter and not missing a single game in 18 his 20 full seasons (I’m leaving out 2001 because he didn’t become starter until week 2). Of the 19 missed games, 4 were due to suspension and 15 due to his week 1 ACL and MCL tear at the hands of S Bernard Pollard on a sack attempt. It could be the TB12 diet and exercise routines he developed or just incredible genetics, but his sustained endurance and longevity is another unmatched quality in his career.
One of Brady’s most outrageous skills was his clutch gene. His ability to lead a big 4th quarter or OT drive for a tie or win is unmatched and is something we’ll likely never see again. According to Pro Football Reference, Brady has 42 4th quarter comebacks in his career and 54 game-winning-drives, just 1 behind Peyton Manning in both categories. As a fan (either for or against), you knew that if you gave him any time left with a chance to drive down field and tie or win, it was almost automatic and the game was far from over. There was always an intangible feeling that as soon as Brady touched the ball with a chance to make something big happen, it was going to happen.
The plethora of notable moments in Brady’s career are too plentiful to list. For the older casual NFL fan, he’ll always be known for the tuck-rule snow game that changed how the NFL adjudicated fumble vs forward pass during the 2001 AFC Championship game and more recently, for the insane 28-3 comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI in 2017 with 31 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter, 4th quarter, and OT. For younger fans and Buccaneers fans, he’ll be remembered for leaving New England and getting his 7th ring in the Florida sun and returning the Lombardi Trophy to the Buccaneers after an 18 span without a title.
From a Pats fan, thank you Tom (even if the feeling isn’t mutual)! While it’s the end of the Tom Brady era on the football field, I have a feeling we’ll still be hearing a lot from the former QB with the TB12 brand and his new clothing brand. He’s not going away quietly.