The GOAT Retires: The End of Tom Brady’s Career

I guess it was finally time. After a year of retiring, then unretiring, then keeping us guessing about his future plans, Tom Brady has finally decided to retire from the NFL. No matter how you felt about the quarterback throughout his career (as a die-hard Jets fan, the envy was real), you can’t help but be moved by his departure.

At 45 years of age, he’s been playing for literally our entire lives. He was drafted in the sixth round in 2000 by the New England Patriots, the 199th player taken overall, meaning every team passed on him multiple times. Coming out of Michigan, no one saw anything special in him. After riding the bench for a year, he got the chance to prove his doubters wrong when the Pats’ star quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, went down with an injury (on a hit by a player on–you guessed it–the Jets). From there, Brady never looked back.

Many agree that Brady is the best quarterback ever to step on an NFL field. Ten appearances and seven victories in the Super Bowl are marks that no one may ever touch (perhaps Mahomes has an outside shot given his young age and two Super Bowl victories in three appearances). Brady’s individual statistics and records speak for themselves: first all-time in wins (251), Pro Bowls (15), Super Bowl MVPs (5), completions (7,753), attempts (12,050), passing yards (89, 214), and passing touchdowns (649).  

But aside from the numbers, it is obvious in watching TB12 play live that he’s the GOAT. He makes it look easy–and most fans know all too well that it isn’t. His composure in the pocket, accuracy, and clutch factor on game-winning drives need to be seen to fully appreciate. Certain moments in his career, like his legendary comeback in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons, or his magical victory in Super Bowl LV at the age of 43, will never be forgotten. I wasn’t alive to see Joe Montana, John Elway or Dan Marino, but it doesn’t matter–I am confident that Tom Brady was better. There will always be those who argue that Brady was only able to be Brady because of the genius of Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick, but I don’t buy it: coaching absolutely matters, but the coach doesn’t take the snaps and stand in the pocket with massive defensive linemen bearing down on him. In any event, Brady’s Super Bowl win in Tampa Bay seems to end that debate.

With Brady’s retirement, a golden era of long-playing, legendary quarterbacks nears its end. Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning have all retired in recent years having won multiple Super Bowls and having secured spots near the top in the all-time statistical rankings. Yes, Aaron Rodgers is still around, but he’s 39. The league is clearly now in the hands of a new generation, including Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen and others, many of whom have shown a lot of promise at a young age. Whether they will have the longevity of their predecessors remains to be seen.

NFL fans will still see Brady on fall and winter Sundays–he will become FOX Sports’ lead NFL analyst, and he’ll be in the booth starting next season. As a fan of Tony Romo’s insightful commentary, I’m excited to see what Brady brings to the table. For the first time ever, I will be rooting for him.