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Tom Brady turned every NFL game he played into sheer excitement when he got the football in the final minute. And so it was fitting he took about one minute to announce his retirement after 23 seasons on Wednesday.
In a 50-second video recorded off an iPhone on a beach, Brady bid good-bye “for good” and thanked everyone “for allowing me to live my absolute dream.”
He managed a weak smile at the end of the video. But he didn’t seem happy.
He didn’t say why he’s retiring. Brady used the quarterback position like DaVinci used canvas, but this announcement was almost colorless — short, to the point, and over.
Brady, I’m told, was strongly expecting to retire the minute the Tampa Bay Buccaneers season ended with a playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Jan. 16.
He took the last two weeks to think about confirming rather than reaching that decision.
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Tom Brady didn’t want to announce anything amid the emotion of the season’s games. He didn’t want to announce anything and feel differently in his heart weeks later. He wanted to be certain this time.
Brady had a false start of sorts last year when he retired in February and announced a return in March. He didn’t want to replay that this time.
And that’s not the plan. Tom Brady is done this time.
Brady told Buccaneers management of his decision Wednesday morning. Early.
The club believed he was either going to retire or return for the 2023 season. The club didn’t think Brady, who is not under contract for next season, would actually go into free agency.
The rumors of him going to Las Vegas to join former offensive coordinator and current Raiders coach Josh McDaniels were not realistic. Neither were the ideas of him going to San Francisco or Tennessee. Brady wants to be on the east coast, close to his children.
So Brady leaves those rumors in the dust. And his departure returns the Bucs to a middling franchise.
Now that he’s gone, let’s be clear what just happened.
The greatest quarterback of all time has left the game.
“No question,” J.J. Watt said on his Twitter feed. “No debate.”
Brady will be eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2028. That’s the necessary five years after retirement.
And if anyone was ever a first-ballot certainty, he is. Because Brady didn’t just have one Hall of Fame career. It’s like he had three.
Brady essentially had three careers
He won three Super Bowls in his 20s.
He won two Super Bowls and threw for 40,018 passing yards with 309 touchdowns in his 30s.
And he won two Super Bowls and threw another 193 TDs in his 40s.
Tom Brady retires with an NFL best 649 TD passes. He is the all time leader in passing yards with 89,130.
He leaves as the NFL leader in career quarterback wins, quarterback regular season wins, quarterback playoff wins, and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Awards.
He didn’t talk about any of those marks in his 50-second good-bye. He didn’t have to.
The marks speak for themselves.
The career speaks for itself.
The NFL is diminished today with the Brady retirement. The league knows it.
But as with all great players who leave, someone will soon step up and try to fill the void.
Maybe Patrick Mahomes does it. Maybe Joe Burrow or Josh Allen or somebody we have no idea about comes out of nowhere to fill the enormous space Brady occupied for over two decades.
Someone always has stepped up when greatness steps down.
With Tom Brady’s retirement the void is apparent now. The greatest of all time has just stepped down.