Tom Brady Retires: Live Updates

Tom Brady celebrated the Buccaneers victory in the final moments of the Super Bowl last season. Credit… Doug Mills/The New York Times ...


Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Tom Brady’s football career has traced an arc that borders on myth, his rise from sixth-round NFL draft pick to seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and global stardom. And it ended, after more than two decades of unparalleled brilliance in his sport, with a spade of contradiction.

Brady, who once said he wouldn’t retire until his performance began to decline, decided to leave the NFL at age 44 at the height of his powers. He announced his retirement on Instagram Tuesday, after leading the league, in his 22nd season, in passing yards (5,316), completions (485) and touchdowns (43) for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who lost in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs to the Los Angeles Rams.

“I have always believed that the sport of football is an ‘all-in’ proposition – if there is not 100% competitive commitment you will not be successful, and success is what I love so much. in our game,” Brady said. in his Instagram post.

He added: “It’s hard for me to write, but here goes: I’m not going to make this competitive commitment anymore. I’ve loved my career in the NFL, and now it’s time to focus my time and energy on other things that need my attention.

Brady’s official statement came days after ESPN reported his departure on Jan. 29, sparking a frenzy that was initially debunked by his father, Tom Brady Sr., and his agent, Don Yee, who in a statement , said Brady alone would announce details of his future plans. Brady himself softened the idea of ​​an imminent decision on Monday nights, saying on her “Let’s Go!” podcast with Jim Gray that he was still making a decision. “When the time is right, I’ll be ready to make a decision, one way or another,” he said.

Brady had said for years that he wanted to play until he was 45, a benchmark for him. He talked about spending more time with his wife, model Gisele Bündchen, and his three children, and said he would make a decision with their input.

The hours that passed before Brady confirmed the decision on his terms reinforced the maniacal control that governed his professional life and career. The same quarterback who lambasted himself for throwing passes an inch across from his receivers – who adhered to a rigid diet and championed the virtues of muscle flexibility – once walked into a city park from Tampa, Florida because he needed to practice and the park was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

His perfectionist streak, coupled with smoldering intensity and brain microprocessor, resulted in a player picked by the New England Patriots with the 199th overall pick in 2000 — the seventh quarterback selected that year — to retire with three league most valuable player awards and as the NFL’s career leader in touchdowns, assists and wins.

Brady racked up those marks last season, when he threw for the most yards of his career. Instead of hobbling around on beaten knees, with a wrinkled face and grumpy shoulder, Brady danced around the pocket and rushed for his most yards in a decade, shattering the stereotype of an older quarterback. and redefining what feels possible for aging athletes.

According to Sports Reference’s Stathead database, only six quarterbacks before Brady had even attempted a pass after turning 42. at age 42 or older. Brady, in his first season with the Buccaneers, in 2020, threw 40.

So many other details of his career seem fanciful enough to seem apocryphal.

In 20 full seasons as a starter, Brady led his team to the Super Bowl 10 times. He started as many Super Bowls (three) in his 40s as he did in his 20s, when he amassed three triumphs in four seasons. Its seven Super Bowl titles are more than any franchise has won. He was a five-time Super Bowl MVP selection; only one other quarterback, John Elway of Denver, has even started five Super Bowls. Only once has Brady missed the playoffs as a starter — in 2002, the season after winning his first Super Bowl, the championship that launched the Patriots dynasty.

Brady’s New England stardom has been incubating for years in ideal circumstances after a stroke of luck on September 23, 2001. Jets linebacker Mo Lewis knocked out Drew Bledsoe, who cut a blood vessel in his chest, pushing Brady into the game.

Brady formed, with Bill Belichick, the largest quarterback-coach partnership in NFL history, capitalizing on the organization’s stable infrastructure, the league’s short-passing boom and his own durability – the only games that he missed through injury came in 2008, after tearing a knee ligament in the season opener. He reveled in New England’s “Do Your Job” philosophy, stifling his charismatic personality to become a pocket passer extraordinaire, winning six championships and 17 division titles with the Patriots.

But even his playoff losses were memorable. He was twice defeated in the Super Bowl by the Giants. The first time, in February 2008, thwarted New England’s bid for an unbeaten season. The second, in February 2012, prompted Bündchen, exasperated by several failed passes, to later mock that her husband couldn’t throw and catch at the same time. Then, against Philadelphia six years later, Brady torched the Eagles for 505 passing yards – one of his many postseason records – but lost, 41-33, after being stripped of the ball with about two minutes left. to play.

Perhaps his crowning glory came at the end of the 2016 season, when he wrapped up his nationwide revenge tour by overcoming a 25-point third-quarter deficit to stun the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. He had started this season with a four-game suspension for his role in a cheating scandal known as Deflategate, a spat over underinflated soccer balls intended to give him an advantage when kicking the ball that turned into circular arguments – played in federal court, no less – on power dynamics in the NFL and the philosophical underpinnings of the Patriots dynasty.

This championship, like so many other moments, reaffirmed Brady’s enduring faith in himself. Every team, including New England, bypassed him several times in the 2000 draft, and Brady was so upset no one had taken him in earlier rounds that he left his California home for a walk.

A few weeks after the Patriots drafted him, team owner Robert K. Kraft met Brady not far from his office. Brady introduced himself to Kraft, who said he knew he was their sixth-round pick from the University of Michigan.

“That’s right,” Brady replied, in Kraft’s story. “And I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.”

And he was, becoming perhaps the most beloved athlete in Boston sports history. But in August 2019, on the eve of his 20th birthday in New England and two days after turning 42, Brady agreed to a new contract that would make him a post-season free agent. His last pass as a Patriot, in a home loss to the Tennessee Titans, was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

Two months later, when the Patriots were unwilling to sign Brady to a long-term contract, he fled New England for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a move that shook up the NFL landscape. At the time, the Buccaneers had won as many playoff games (six) as Brady had championships, but he was mastering a new offense, adjusting to new teammates and coaches, and dominating the league, all while the pandemic limited contact in anybody. He won his seventh title, throwing three touchdown passes on a Kansas City demolition last February at the Buccaneers stadium.

Each of Brady’s rings proved something, in its own way. That he deserved to start over at Bledsoe. That his first title was no coincidence. That he could be the spearhead of a dynasty. That he didn’t need deflated balloons to win. That he could fend off the commissioner, Roger Goodell, who imposed his Deflategate suspension. That the Patriots, by trading replacement Jimmy Garoppolo, had made the right decision to keep him. And finally, last year he didn’t need Belichick to win.

Even in winning his last two championships, when he had to outlast Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes in matchups distilled in basic terms as the best of all time against the best of this era, Brady asserted his primacy and pushed back the creeping generational change at quarterback. .

In recent years, Brady has prepared for the next phase of his life, founding health and wellness company TB12 Sports with his longtime trainer Alex Guerrero and media company Religion of Sports and the line of Brady Brand clothing. In the kind of thing you do when you feel the end is near, he also chronicled his legacy in two TV series, “Tom vs. Time” and “Man in the Arena.”

But he delayed retirement for so long because he loved football and he loved winning and was excellent for over two decades – the best, in fact – at doing both. That he ended his career with a loss in the playoffs, in the divisional round against the Los Angeles Rams, seems incompatible with all the glory that has come before him.

Look again, though, at the piercing endgame of that game: A Rams field goal from 30 yards, the ball snapped from the Tampa Bay 12-yard line. A farewell to TB12, from TB 12.



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