Update: Tom Brady has officially announced he is retiring from football.
Tom Brady is
officially probably retiring from the NFL after 22 seasons, seven Super Bowl titles, three MVPs, and five Super Bowl MVPs. He is without a shred of doubt the greatest quarterback in NFL history, likely the greatest player in league history, and arguably the greatest athlete in American sports history. As we process the end of an era, only the most somber of songs will suffice. Hit it, acoustic Josie.
That is if you believe the likes of Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington, two of the most tied-in guys in all of sports media. What started as rumors of Brady making a decision on his future sooner than later quickly turned into the breaking news alarm being sounded on Saturday afternoon. It was clearly not something ESPN was prepared for at that exact moment because they had wall to wall college basketball games airing and the regional sports networks like NESN and NBC Sports Boston are usually just airing infomercials when there’s not a game on. So kudos to the radio guys for doing the news justice all day while the snow piled up. But then there were conflicting reports that started coming in quoting sources like Brady’s agent Don Yee and even his own father saying he had not made a decision yet on his future. Mike Silver even reported that Tom Brady actually called Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht to tell him he had not made a decision yet. Welp, ESPN, the NFL Network, all of the internet, even TB12’s own Twitter account tweeted out notes of congratulations on a great career. Sports Center seemed to have taken Schefty at his reporting because they ran non-stop coverage and heart wrenching Tom Brady retirement packages. As they should because whether it was Giselle, Alex Guerrero or someone else that leaked the decision; I would bet my car that Brady is retiring. He’s just pissed he got scooped before he could announce it himself in his own way. (i.e. the mysteriously yet to be aired final episode of his ESPN+ show)
With all that being said, I am going to move forward with this blog assuming Brady is in fact retiring. I really hope this isn’t a Brett Favre situation and he hems and haws. Make a decision and stick with it. I personally don’t think he should walk away because he clearly is still one of the best QBs in the league, but hey if he is calling it a career I get it. He’s won seven Super Bowls, he has every significant NFL record for a QB, he’s got multiple budding businesses to tend to now, and most importantly he has his health. If this it for Tom Brady, what an incredible career it has been. Equally as impressive is the fact that he will be retiring at the height of his powers as he finishes his final season as a legit MVP candidate
So he calls it a career, rather than wait to get hurt or face an
inevitable possible decline in skills, even as Brady once famously said “I’ll retire when I suck.” Suck, Tom Brady does not. There aren’t many guys that are able to walk away at the top of their game though. The only recent comp I can think of is David Ortiz, who retired after a 2016 All-Star season in which he hit .315 with 38 home runs and 127 RBIs. Absolutely mind boggling. As badly as Tom Brady wants to play until he’s in his fifties, there is something to be said about walking away before the wheels come off. Nobody wants to remember their idols stumbling around the field, clearly diminished and just chasing former greatness.
Speaking of David Ortiz, the fact that he gets elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame the same week that Tom Brady announces his retirement has me feeling straight up geriatric. My childhood idols now have their numbers retired, streets named after them, HOF inductions, and before long will have statues in their honor. We have truly lived through the greatest era in Boston sports history and to quote Henry Hill “and now it’s all over.”
Didn’t matter. It didn’t mean anything. When I was down, I’d go out and win some more. We won everything. We beat other teams, we battled the league, we even came back from 28-3. Everybody had their hands out. Everything was for the taking. And now it’s all over.
Sure Mac Jones looked pretty good, he helped bring the Patriots back to the playoffs as a rookie, and is technically a Pro Bowl level QB now as an alternate replacement. But it’ll never be the same, and I can already feel my future children rolling their eyes as I tell yet another story championing Tom Brady’s greatness.
In his final season, Tom Brady led the NFL in Passing Touchdowns, Yards, Completions, and Pass Attempts, all at the age of 44 and the oldest player in the league. That is otherworldly in a career of god level accomplishments. I’m not sure if this StatMuse graphic is completely up to date, but it paints the picture of just how utterly dominant Brady has been in his 40s compared to every other QB in league history. Sure he has way more games played, but that’s not a knock, in fact that’s a testament to his…pliability (sorry, I couldn’t help myself).
If this is in fact it, I have to give Brady props for not doing the whole gross Mariano Rivera Retirement Tour. Rivera was the greatest closer in baseball history and was a joy/terror to watch for all those years. But announcing you’re going to retire after one more season just opens the gates for distractions and gifts and media fawning every single week and it sounds exhausting if not outright off putting. Assuming the retirement takes, like a successful transplant operation, he will retire after his age-44 season, which is actually one season shy of the 45-years-old end date he had not so subtly hinted at for years. I’ve personally always thought the “45-years-old” timeline was thrown out there by Brady to throw us off the scent so he could play into his 40’s and then retire at some point before the media started asking him every single offseason about his plans. However, as he continued to play I was less sure of that because let’s face it, if he remained healthy Tom Brady could have played until he was registering for his AARP membership. I can even picture the Instagram promo video for TB12 introducing its most famous Medicare client.
Now in the interest of continuing to process my Tom Brady Leaving the Patriots grief, I’m only briefly going to go back to the Bargaining stage here for a second. Simply put, only playing two seasons in Tampa Bay makes his late career departure hurt a little bit less. A lot of Patriots fans will never forgive Brady for leaving, but I think the majority of fans recognized Brady was essentially forced out of town by Belichick and/or after 20 years it may have just been time to move on. So with that being said, I know a lot of Pats fans were rooting for Brady to play well and even win another ring down in Florida if not to stick it to Belichick, at least to incentivize the Patriots to get their shit together, and fast.
However, if Brady had continued to win in Tampa Bay for several years, it suddenly becomes a very real possibility that the lines of allegiance start to blur. Just think about it, do you look back at Peyton Manning as a Colt or a Bronco? It’s not as clear cut as you might think because although Manning had the bulk of his record breaking HOF career in Indy, he had an ugly breakup with the team that drafted him, then went on to set single season TD records in Denver, continued to have legendary battles against Tom Brady and the Pats, went to two Super Bowls, and won another ring with the Broncos. I think that was starting to become an unspoken fear of Patriots fans who don’t even want to entertain the discussion of who claims Tom Brady as their own.
Getting back on track with my stages of processing the post-Brady grief, I think the Week 4 game this season in Foxborough provided a lot of closure for fans who felt blindsided by his departure nearly two years prior. Not to mention an all-time promo from the Sunday Night Football team.
Speaking of closure, goddamnit am I glad I dragged my lazy ass off the couch in Boston and drove the five hours down to the Meadowlands just to see Tom Brady play in person (and witness him rip out the heart of the Jets) one last time. We even joked in the pre-game tailgate that we’d probably be back in the same parking lot four years from now seeing Tom light up another generation of Jets players, but in the back of our minds we knew this could be it. And it was.
We’ll continue to work through this news and process Tom Brady’s retirement when he finally makes it official. Or if he pulls a Wolf of Wall Street and declares he’s not leaving, we’ll cover that too. If this is it though, I can promise you one thing: Five years from now I will without a doubt be in Canton, OH to witness Tom Brady’s Hall of Fame induction speech. And I’m not a meterologist, but I already know it will be incredibly dusty that day.