Sports Desk, Feb 1 (EFE).- Tom Brady, a legendary quarterback widely regarded as the greatest player in the history of the National Football League, officially announced his retirement in a lengthy statement Tuesday on Instagram.
Brady is best known for his clutch play on the big stage, winning six Super Bowl titles with the New England Patriots before capturing one more at age 43 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Perhaps even more remarkably, he remained one of the best players in American football in his final year at age 44, playing all 17 regular-season games for the Bucs, passing for a career-best 5,316 yards and notching 43 touchdowns (second only to the 2007-2008 season when the Patriots went undefeated until a shocking loss in the Super Bowl).
Brady then continued to shine in this year’s playoffs, leading his team to the NFC Championship Game despite having to make due without a pair of key wide receivers.
In that 30-27 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Jan. 23, the Bucs – behind Brady’s strong play – rallied from a 24-point deficit to tie the game at 27-27 before giving up a game-winning field goal.
“I’ve done a lot of reflecting the past week and have asked myself difficult questions. And I am so proud of what we have achieved. My teammates, coaches, fellow competitors and fans deserve 100 percent of me, but right now it’s best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes,” Brady said in his farewell message.
Speaking Monday night on his weekly “Let’s Go” podcast, the native of San Mateo, California, indicated that he still had not made up his mind.
“I’ll know when the time is right. I’m very blessed to have played as long as I have … I know there’s a lot of interest in when I’m going to stop playing and I understand that. It’s not that I don’t recognize that. It’s just I know when I’ll know, and when I don’t know, I don’t know. I’m not going to race to some conclusion on that.”
In his statement on Tuesday, Brady expressed gratitude to his Buccaneer teammates and coaching staff and to the Bucs’ fan base and owner, but he did not mention the Patriots.
Although some social media users said he should have acknowledged that organization and its fans, others pointed out that he had expressed his appreciation for Pats Nation in 2020 when he signed with the Buccaneers in March 2020.
Brady’s career will forever be linked to Bill Belichick, who has been the Patriots’ head coach since 2000 and was on the sidelines for six of the star quarterback’s Super Bowl titles.
Between 2001 – when Brady, then 24, became the starting quarterback of that team based just outside of Boston – and 2019, the Patriots posted 19 consecutive winning seasons and appeared in nine Super Bowls.
One of his most memorable moments came in the 2017 Super Bowl, when he and the Patriots overcame a 28-3 deficit midway through the third quarter to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28, a comeback that was the biggest in the history of that title game.
Brady also defied the odds in the 2021 Super Bowl, when as the oldest man on the field (age 43) he led the Bucs to a 31-9 rout of the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs.
All told, Brady racked up seven Super Bowl rings, five Super Bowl MVP awards (2002, 2004, 2015, 2017 and 2021), 243 career wins as a quarterback and 84,520 passing yards, all of which are NFL records.
He also won three regular-season NFL MVP awards and set a mark for most Pro Bowl invitations (15).
The Patriots’ owner, Robert Kraft, said in a statement Tuesday that “words cannot describe the feelings I have for Tom Brady.”
“In a team sport like football, it is rare to see an individual have such a dominant impact on a team’s success … As a fan of football it was a privilege to watch. As a Patriots fan, it was a dream come true,” he said.
Brady’s disappointments in his legendary career were few and far between, although he and his teammates were on the wrong end of one of the biggest upsets in NFL history – a 17-14 loss to the New York Giants in the 2008 Super Bowl.
The Patriots came into that game as 12-point favorites after becoming the first team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to complete a perfect regular season.