Buccaneers Quarterback and Former Patriots Quarterback, Tom Brady, retired on Feb. 1 after playing 22 seasons. Brady is considered to be, arguably, the greatest player in the National Football League. After much speculation in the sports world revolving around whether he would retire or not, Brady finally confirmed it on his Instagram page.
Brady’s final game was in the Divisional Round in a loss against the Los Angeles Rams, on Jan. 23. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came up short in a late comeback effort as they scored 24 unanswered points to tie the game at 27, but ultimately lost on a game-winning field goal by the Rams. Photo via Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
It is rare when a player is able to retire on top, after winning it all. Many believed this was Brady’s expectation for this past season, as he hoped to have the opportunity to win just one more and call it a career while on top. Unfortunately, this did not occur, but his historic career still holds great value, as Brady is still considered the G.O.A.T. by most.
Before Brady came to be the Patriots’ starting quarterback, they were not known to be a top franchise in the NFL. The team had made the playoffs a few times and even made the Super Bowl in 1996, but did not come out victorious. With the addition of Brady, the success of the franchise took a turn. Tom Brady was the 199th pick in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, from the University of Michigan. He played a total of 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, from 2000 – ‘19. The first Super Bowl they won together was in Brady’s second year, 2002.
During his time with the Patriots, Brady led their team to nine Super Bowl appearances, and won six out of those games. However, the Patriots didn’t feel comfortable with giving Brady a long-term contract, keeping him as their starting quarterback until he would retire around the age of 45.
The Patriots declined to give Brady a multi-year contract, instead offering him a one year deal. Additionally, Brady’s relationship with the Patriots’ head coach was starting to wear down as time grew. Coach Belichick only saw Brady as one of the players, despite what Brady had done for their franchise. Following much controversy, Brady chose to leave the Patriots after two decades of being with them. He didn’t feel appreciated by Coach Belichick and Owner Robert Kraft towards the end of his run with the Patriots. The debate grew on whether Brady or his Patriots coach, Belichick, was the reason for their overall success together in New England. Brady wanted to prove to everyone that he could win in any situation, but mostly that he could be victorious without coach Belichick.
Brady made the shocking decision to go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a franchise that was not as historic as the Patriots. The Buccaneers happened to be a losing franchise for a long period of time. The last time the Bucs franchise won a Super Bowl was in 2003. Brady played for the Buccaneers from 2020 – ‘21, a total of two seasons. Brady won a Super Bowl during his time with the Bucs, in 2021, showing the world what he could do. For many, this is Brady’s greatest accomplishment. Although there is great reasoning for this wide consideration, one other game really defined his career.
2017 may have been the year of the monkey in the Chinese zodiac, but it was the year of the G.O.A.T. for football. It was a highly anticipated game: Feb. 5, 2017, the day of Super Bowl LI — a great matchup that fans of football were waiting for, the New England Patriots versus the Atlanta Falcons at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. However, the game didn’t start as expected. The first half did not look good for the Patriots; the offense and defense seemed drained. Brady threw a pick six; by halftime, the Falcons had a lead of 21 – 3. The Falcons scored their fourth touchdown of the game at the eight-minute mark in the third quarter to increase the lead to 28 – 3. For Patriots fans, it seemed like all hope was lost — down by 25 in the third quarter to the Atlanta Falcons. It was looking like another Super Bowl loss for Brady and their team. In the perspective of the Falcons and their fans, they felt like they already won the Super Bowl, cheering and celebrating in all their glory.
But, the game was not over yet.
With two minutes left in the third quarter, the Patriots finally found rhythm, with a touchdown pass by Brady to Running Back James White. The Falcons still had a 21-point lead heading into the fourth, but there was still plenty of game to be played. With eight minutes left in the fourth, the Patriots forced a fumble on Falcons quarterback, Matt Ryan. Brady and the Patriots offense took advantage of this fumble and were able to score a touchdown, cutting the lead to 28 – 20 with a successful two-point conversion. After this, it seemed like momentum changed from the Falcons to Patriots. The Patriots’ defense made a stop, setting up Brady to lead his team to a game-tying drive with just a few minutes left to spare. This team was hot, nothing was stopping the run they were on in this final quarter. Ultimately, the Patriots were able to win this game 34 – 28 with a game-winning drive in overtime, led by Brady.
Every completion Brady made, every touchdown scored, brought much-needed momentum to their team. The crowd found their way back into what turned out to be an exciting game of football, when it seemed like it would be a blowout. The Patriots scored 31 unanswered points against the Falcons to win. Players for the Falcons could not believe what happened; they seemed to be on the wrong end of history that night. Brady led his team to the most improbable comeback in NFL history — the greatest comeback in the history of sports. This displays the competitive individual Brady was; he was unwilling to give up no matter the situation. There has never been a sports moment like this: A surreal moment for someone who was already considered one of the greatest, solidifying his place as the greatest.
Controversy surrounded Brady through moments in his career; most football analysts loved him while the average fan hated him. However, one thing is true: Brady was a winner, and will always be one. Brady played in the NFL longer than most students at Whittier College have been alive. Competing in the National Football League at the age of 44, it is surreal to think he could have played one or a few more seasons. He said it best himself; he believed he could physically play until he was 50 years old. However, the winnings on the field could not match the experiences that were waiting for him off the field: creating bonds with his sons and daughters, a beautiful wife that can come home unworried about the safety of her husband, and the opportunity to grow as an individual brand.
Ultimately, Tom Brady made the best decision for himself and his family by retiring. Brady is the winningest quarterback in NFL history, with a win percentage of .769. Additionally, he holds the record for regular season completions (7,263), passing yards (84,520) and touchdown passes (624). The longevity of Brady plays a pivotal role in how much he was able to accomplish, but that is no knock on the successful career he had. He has seven total Super Bowl wins; that is more than any other franchise in the NFL. He won three MVP awards and five Super Bowl MVP awards. Brady has accomplished so much during his time in the NFL; he will retire with multiple accomplishments and titles under his historic career.
If you watched the NFL the last five years, or for decades, you had the privilege of watching history be made by the greatest to ever do it, Tom Brady.
Featured Image: Courtesy of CNBC.com