Tom Brady, the most decorated player in league history and widely considered the greatest of all time, is retiring from the NFL, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington.
Of course, Brady’s career is nothing short of legendary. He first came into the NFL as the 199th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft out of Michigan and was selected by Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Brady spent that first season on the bench behind veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Then, in Week 2 of the 2001 season, a devastating hit by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis knocked Bledsoe out of the game and effectively changed the trajectory of Brady’s career, the Patriots franchise, and the NFL at large.
The second-year quarterback came in, took hold of the starting job and helped lead New England to a Super Bowl XXXVI title, the first in franchise history. Brady’s legend only continued to grow as that championship sparked a dynasty where he and the organization would win three Super Bowls in four seasons.
The Patriots continued to have sustained success under Brady following those titles in the years to follow, albeit without hoisting any Lombardi Trophies for a decade. That said, those were arguably some of the more impressive statistical campaigns of Brady’s career, including a record-shattering 50 touchdown season in 2007. That year, the Patriots went 16-0 during the regular season but fell just short of perfection, losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
New England did get back to winning titles under Brady during the later stages of his career, however, claiming three championships from 2014 to 2018. Those Super Bowls elevated Brady onto a mythical level in NFL lore, particularly Super Bowl LI when he helped the Patriots rally from a 28-3 second-half deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime.
Brady spent 20 years with the Patriots before departing the franchise in free agency in the spring of 2020. At that point, he elected to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and — even as he entered his mid-40s — showed that he was still capable of winning at a high level. In his first season in Tampa, the Buccaneers went on to win Super Bowl LV over the Kansas City Chiefs for the seventh title of Brady’s career.
In Brady’s final season in the NFL in 2021, the quarterback led the NFL in passing yards (5,316) and passing touchdowns (43). His final game was a 30-27 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round in which Brady nearly clawed his team back after trailing 27-3 midway through the third quarter. Brady and the Bucs tied the game at 27 with less than a minute remaining in the four quarter, but L.A. was able to get in field goal range in the final seconds to kick the game-winner.
When taking a macro view of Brady’s career, it’s as decorated as anyone in league history. His seven Super Bowls are the most all-time, as are his five Super Bowl MVP awards. Brady has thrown more completions, passing yards, and touchdowns than any other quarterback that has come before, and he is also the winningest player in NFL history with 278 total wins. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in what consists of a mountain of accomplishments for Brady.
While it may have seemed like Brady was destined to play forever, he is finally closing the book on his playing career, as the greatest player the NFL has ever seen is now hanging up his cleats.