On Saturday afternoon, the news broke: Tom Brady, largely considered to be the greatest quarterback of all time, retired after 22 seasons in the NFL. As expected, Brady’s retirement involved drama, a few conspiracy theories about him trying to gain more publicity and brand deals, and countless Instagram captions filled with goat emojis. But some doubted the first announcement, which didn’t come from him, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Neither was it the first time that reports of his retirement had gone viral without any word from Brady. After his contract ended with the Patriots, many were convinced that he would throw in the towel. Brady and Hulu teamed up to stop that rumor during a Super Bowl ad in 2020. Saturday’s announcement didn’t feel any different than 2020; fans wanted to keep the hope that the GOAT had a season or two left in him. They wanted to keep witnessing history, something that Brady has rewritten time and time again on the field.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. On Tuesday, Brady took to Instagram to officially announce his retirement, shutting down rumors that his “retirement” was just a publicity stunt. ESPN’s Twitter announcement took away a lot of the attention from the AFC and NFC championships, which were played on Sunday. It could have been a cash-grab for Brady, or a way to gain the attention of the media even if he wasn’t participating in the Super Bowl, but that wasn’t the case. He retired, shocking fans around the country, despite leading the league in passing yards this season and breaking the NFL record for the oldest quarterback to throw for over 5,000 yards. Clearly, his game was not declining.
In his Instagram announcement, Brady cited his family and his health as main contributors towards his decision, thanking his children and his wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen. After 22 seasons in the league, it is understandable that he deserves some time with his family to recover from all of those hits. He also thanked his fans, but had very little to say directly to the New England community, despite spending most of his career with the Patriots. With nothing but a few reposted stories and some clips of his time in New England in a reel on his Instagram, Patriots fans are upset that he didn’t recognize such an enormous part of his career.
With his retirement, he leaves a legacy miles long. He holds countless records, some of which may never be broken in the NFL again. The most notable include the most Super Bowl titles by a player (7), the most games won by a player (278), most combined passing yards (97,569), most combined touchdown passes (710), and most games played by a quarterback (365). Besides the numbers, his departure affects the entire NFL, especially the New England and Tampa Bay area. He’s also leaving behind a fan base dedicated to him, independent of any team. He defined an entire generation, debuting in the NFL before much of his younger fan base was even born, so many of us have grown up with him as a staple in the league.
With Brady leaving, fans all over the country must learn to adjust. There won’t be as many fourth quarter comebacks, rumors about deflating balls or kissing children, and there certainly will not be another GOAT for a very long time, if ever. Tom Brady was beyond special, and he will continue to be the player that the new generation of NFL quarterbacks aspires to be.