Tom Brady, the most successful quarterback in NFL history, announced on Wednesday that he is returning from the sport he has dominated for years.
“I know the process was a pretty big deal last time, so when I woke up this morning, I figured I’d just press record and let you guys know first,” Brady said in a video on Twitter. “I won’t be long winded. You only get one super emotional retirement essay, and I used mine up last year, so really thank you guys so much to every single one of you for supporting me.”
Brady’s ruthless commitment to winning was legendary and it was only in his final season that there were signs his skills had begun to diminish, although even then he passed for 4,694 yards, the third most in the NFL. The 45-year-old’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a losing record – the first in Brady’s career as a starter – and only limped into the playoffs because the other teams in the NFC South were even worse. They were easily beaten in the first round of the playoffs by the Dallas Cowboys.
Brady’s list of achievements is almost as long as his career. His seven Super Bowl wins – six with the New England Patriots and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – are the most by any player in NFL history. He also holds the NFL record for career passing touchdowns (649) and passing yards (89,214). Other more obscure stats are just as impressive: no other quarterback has played in a Super Bowl past the age of 40 – Brady has played in three, winning two; his 35 playoff wins are more than 13 other teams have appeared in; and, remarkably, he has appeared in nearly a fifth of Super Bowls ever played.
“My family, my friends, my teammates, my competitors – I could go on forever, there’s too many,” Brady said in Wednesday’s video. Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream. I wouldn’t change a thing. Love you all.”
This is not Brady’s first farewell. He initially announced his retirement exactly a year ago before deciding to return to the Buccaneers 40 days later, citing “unfinished business”. However, Tampa was weakened by injuries and Brady appeared affected by off-field issues as his final season fizzled out.
Brady was famously undervalued coming out of college. There were 198 players – six of them quarterbacks – selected in front of Brady in the 2000 NFL draft before the New England Patriots picked him. Patriots owner Robert Kraft later recalled that Brady introduced himself by saying: “I’m Tom Brady and I’m the best decision this organization ever made.”
Brady was correct. He started as New England’s fourth-string quarterback and slowly worked his way up to become Drew Bledsoe’s running back-up. When Bledsoe was injured early in the 2001 season, Brady took over and barely looked back. He would go on to claim seven Super Bowl titles, three NFL MVP awards and nearly every significant quarterback record in league history.
“I think I’ve been on the record dozens of times saying there’s no quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady, and I still feel that way,” Bill Belichick, the coach with whom Brady won six titles in New England, said. in 2021. “I was very lucky to have Tom as the quarterback, to coach him, and he was as good as any coach could ever ask for.”
Brady’s fellow athletes paid tribute to him on Wednesday.
Greatest of All Time. No question, no debate. It’s been an honor and a privilege,” wrote three-time NFL defensive player of the year JJ Watt on Twitter.
Former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter, who dominated Major League Baseball in the same way Brady did the NFL, congratulated the quarterback “on an unbelievable career. It was fun to watch.”
Brady is now likely to focus on his lucrative off-field interests. He owns fashion and wellness businesses and last year signed a 10-year broadcasting deal with Fox Sports. The New York Post reported the deal is worth $375m, surpassing the $332m Brady earned in salary during his NFL career.