Tom Brady’s Retirement: The End of a Historic Career
After 22 seasons in the NFL(National Football League), Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady announced that he will be retiring from football following his playoff defeat to the Los Angeles Rams. The news came on February 1st, 2022, and although Brady’s career would be ending on a tough loss, his NFL career was still nothing short of historic.
After being overlooked by many teams in the 2000 NFL Draft, Brady was selected out of the University of Michigan in the sixth round as the 199th overall pick by the New England Patriots. Brady’s remarkable career and talent almost indisputably made him to be the biggest draft steal of all time.
Starting his first game in 2001, Brady was an instant star in the NFL. He led the New England Patriots to the playoffs that season, and after a series of injuries and controversial moments (such as the tuck rule incident in which Brady seemed to fumble the ball but smartly tucked it against his body and ended up maintaining possession), the team won the Super Bowl and Brady won Super Bowl MVP.
In doing so, Brady became the youngest ever quarterback to achieve both distinctions, which is only the first of his many records. Brady’s early career success continued in 2003 and 2004, when he led the Patriots to a 14-2 regular season record both years, and won the Super Bowl. This was also the most recent back-to-back champion of the Super Bowl, an incredibly rare achievement. However, the next stage in Brady’s career would not follow the unbelievable success as his first 4 years.
The next two years of Brady’s career were still above average when compared to any other quarterback’s standards, but the Patriots struggled and ultimately stalled in the playoffs.
Things started to look up in 2007 though, as the Patriots were led to a perfect regular-season record(16-0) by MVP winner Brady and looked to complete the “perfect season” as they entered the Super Bowl against the New York Giants. But, in the last minutes of the fourth quarter, the Giants secured their underdog victory and won the championship, a heartbreak for Brady.
Between 2009 and 2013, he failed to win another Superbowl but still played great football, winning MVPs, breaking records previously held by legends such as the most consecutive regular season home wins (held by Brett Favre) and the most playoff appearances. He continued the New England Patriots dynasty with winning-record regular seasons and playoff wins.
Brady’s 10 year Super Bowl drought would be broken in extraordinary style though, as he won his fourth Super Bowl ring. In the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks, Brady’s fourth quarter comeback seemed to have been useless, as the Seahawks were on the one yard line with one of the best running backs in the league, Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks decided to pass the ball instead, which was infamously intercepted by Malcom Butler. This play gave the Patriots the win, and let Brady break his championship drought.
However, questions and theories arose regarding the footballs used by him in the 2014 AFC Championship game. The claim involved intentionally deflated footballs that gave the Patriots players an advantage over their opponents, an infamous scandal coined “Deflategate”. Brady had been deemed as a part of the conspiracy for not speaking out against the tampered equipment and was suspended for four games the following season by the NFL. Although this scandal did direct a lot of hate towards Brady, and doubts as to his GOAT (Greatest of All Time) status, Brady continued to perform and win games, even as he entered his late 30s and 40s.
In 2018, the Patriots would have yet another comfortable regular season, and make their way to the Super Bowl yet again. But, the team found itself down 28-3 in the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons. From this point, Brady would lead arguably the best NFL comeback of all time to tie and force the game to overtime, where the Patriots would get the ball and score to win the championship. This comeback is one of Brady’s best achievements, considering how unlikely it was for the Falcons to blow such a large lead in the championship game. Following a disappointing year in 2017, where Brady would again win the MVP and find himself in the Super Bowl, but would come up short to second-string quarterback Nick Foles, the Patriots had another noteworthy year in 2018. Beating the Rams in the Super Bowl after a dominant regular season and playoff run, Brady became the oldest ever player to win a Super Bowl at 41 years old. After 20 seasons with the Patriots, however, Tom Brady decided to leave New England in 2019, and join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where many people thought he would be unsuccessful and end his career.
In his first season with the Bucs though, Tom Brady led a star-packed team to the Super Bowl, and won the championship over the Kansas City Chiefs in dominant fashion. This accomplishment gave Tom Brady his seventh Super Bowl championship, more than any other TEAM in NFL history. Although Brady would lose in the playoffs in his last year, the 2021-22 season, he remarkably seemed to get better as he aged. Brady finished his career with 624 passing touchdowns and 84,250 passing yards, both astronomical stats.
Tom Brady’s longevity is what differentiates him from other quarterbacks, as he won championships in 3 different decades and was seemingly always in the AFC Championship or Super Bowl. Denying his greatness is nearly impossible and, with his retirement, we should try to appreciate what Tom Brady has done for the NFL during his career.