Early last Wednesday morning, NFL superstar and former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady announced that he is retiring once and for all after briefly retiring last offseason at age 45.
Every sport has a superstar that represents it. Hockey has Wayne Gretzky, basketball has Michael Jordan and baseball has Babe Ruth, while football has Brady. He holds seven Super Bowl wins, three MVPs and 15 pro bowls, and leads the NFL in passing yards with 89,214 and touchdown passes with 649. When it comes to sports legends, Brady has one of the best stories out there. Coming out of Junípero Serra High School in San Mateo, California, he committed to the University of Michigan Wolverines to play football.
Coming into the 2000 NFL draft, Brady was seen as a late-round draft pick at best due to his limited production at Michigan and mobility. He ended up being drafted with the 199th pick by the Patriots. In his first year, he would make the roster as a backup quarterback to Drew Bledsoe, but things would change in the following year when in week two Bledsoe suffered internal bleeding after a hard hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis, forcing Brady to play.
In his first year as the starter, Brady led the Patriots to their first of three Super Bowl wins, with two coming from last-second field goals by kicker Adam Vinatieri. After winning three Super Bowls though, New England would not make it back to the big dance until 2007, when Brady had the best season of his career throwing for 4,806 yards with a record-breaking 50 touchdowns, leading the Patriots to an undefeated season and a Super Bowl appearance. New England, however, fell one game short of the first 19-0 season as they lost to the New York Giants.
The following season, Brady tore his ACL and MCL and missed the entire season. The following seasons were a string of bad luck with early playoff eliminations. These heartbreaking losses, such as losing to the Giants once again in the Super Bowl, had people questioning if Brady still had it in him. He would prove he did in 2014, leading New England back to the Super Bowl and defeating the Seattle Seahawks after a goal-line interception.
The 2014 season would bring controversy as Brady was accused of deflating footballs, leading to a four-game suspension in 2016. This did not slow him down at all though as he led New England back to the Super Bowl where they completed a 28-3 comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in overtime, winning Brady his fifth super bowl, the most any player has ever won. Just three seasons later he would win his sixth, beating the Los Angeles Rams.
Following the 2019 season, Brady decided to leave the Patriots and join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where in his first season he won his final super bowl at age 43, beating the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9. He returned for 2021 where they were eliminated by the Rams on a last-second field goal, and Brady announced his retirement. However, less than two months later, he un-retired and played his final season where they were eliminated in the wild-card round by the Dallas Cowboys.
No matter the controversy that has surrounded him, it is hard to argue the fact of just how impossible of a run Brady had in his career, winning more Super Bowls than any other team and not only playing until 45 but also playing at an MVP level until his final year, something that is unheard of. There will likely never be another Brady, as what he did in his career is almost impossible to match, which makes him arguably the best football player in history.