It hasn’t taken too long for Tom Brady to confirm what had already been accidentally revealed earlier this week. The NFL Superstar has now made it official; he is going to retire from playing effective immediately.
In what has been a golden era for quarterbacks, which has included the likes of Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers, in amongst that array of dazzling and Hall Of Fame talent, Brady’s star has shone the brightest and for longest.
Having spent 20 years with the New England Patriots, Brady surprised the football world when he made a move to Tampa Bay to play for the Buccaneers two years ago and now after 22 years in the game, $465 million in salary and seven Super Bowl rings, he has called time on a career that is the best of all-time.
And yet, when you look back at how he started in the NFL, there was absolutely no inkling that this former Michigan Wolverines quarterback would go on to become the greatest player of all time.
“File:20160917 Tom Brady at Michigan Stadium.jpg” by Brad Muckenthaler is licensed under CC BY 4.0
A Humble Beginning – College Years
Born in California, Brady decided to move out of state to play for Michigan at university. In his first two seasons with the Wolverines, Brady was a back up and when he did get on the field, his very first pass attempt for his college was intercepted.
In 1998, he was in a competition with Drew Henson to land the starting job at the Wolverines and eventually beat out his opponent to land the job.
He spent two years at the Wolverines as a starter, passing for 2427 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his first year, 2217 yards, 16 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in his second. He lifted the team to victory in the Citrus Bowl in 1999 and the Orange Bowl against rivals Ohio State in 2000.
After graduating, Brady was one of a number of quarterbacks hopeful of being drafted I the draft that year. It seemed much rested on his combine performance.
Brady’s somewhat unathletic appearance at the combine is now legendary, as are his bare stats. A 5.28 40, a 24.5 vertical, 99 broad jump, 7.20 three-cone and 4.38 shuttle rank him amongst the worst performers by quarterbacks in combine history.
This is #TomBrady at the @NFL combine in 2000 (a fitness test)….it has gone down in folklore as one of the worst EVER. Slowest QB 40yd dash, lowest standing jump! He went on to win 7 Super Bowls……Enjoy your retirement 🐐#ListenOnlyToYourInnerVoice pic.twitter.com/BCzYb0hAez
— Joe Morrison (@joefooty) January 29, 2022
Heading into the draft, Brady’s performance left a lot to be desired, but his intangibles were good. The question is, where would he fall, if anywhere, and who would take a chance on him?
The Start Of The New England Dynasty
After 198 picks of the 2000 NFL Draft, Tom Brady was still without a team and just
Courtesy of Keith Allison CC.BY.2.0
hoping someone would take a chance on him.
Six quarterbacks had already gone off the board at this point. Chad Pennington, Marc Bulger and Chris Redman being the most recognisable of the half-dozen (the others being Tee Martin, Giovanni Carmazzi and Spergon Wynn).
Then on pick 199, Bill Belichick thought he liked the look of the intangibles that Tom Brady had to offer and selected him with the Patriots pick.
Belichick later admitted that he had expected Brady to go a little sooner in the draft so was delighted to take him there.
Even so, Brady was behind Drew Bledsoe, John Friesz and Michael Bishop on the QB depth charge and his chances of making the roster initially appeared slim. However, in an unusual move, the Patriots kept four QB’s on the roster that year.
In his Rookie season, Brady appeared once, throwing three passes, one completed for six yards against the Lions.
By then Brady had done enough to oust Friesz and Bishop to become the clipboard holder behind Bledsoe for the Patriots heading into the 2001 season.
In the second game of the season, Drew Bledsoe was injured by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis and was unable to continue. Brady completed the game, completing one series hitting half of his ten passes for 46 yards in a 10-3 loss to the Jets.
Brady was named the starter in the next game against the Colts and while he didn’t produce the earth-shattering numbers that would be customary at varying stages of his career, he did lead the team to a comfortable 44-13 win over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
By the end of the Regular Season, Brady had led the Patriots to an 11-5 record and into the playoffs, but the first big controversy of his career lay in wait.
Playoffs Tuck Rule & Super Bowl Success
With the Patriots down by three against the Oakland Raiders, Tom Brady appeared to fumble the ball in the fourth quarter against the Raiders, allowing Charles Woodson to recover for the Raiders and to perhaps seal the win.
However, due to the ‘tuck rule’ Brady was handed the ball back controversially, with officials ruling it was an incomplete pass and not a fumble.
The Patriots then managed to tie the game with 36 seconds left and then on the first possession in overtime, Brady drove the team downfield to allow Adam Vinatieri to kick a field goal for the walk off win.
This game saw the tuck rule removed in 2013 and also overtime rules changed in 2010 to ensure that a field goal on a first possession in overtime cannot win the game.
The Patriots continued in the playoffs but fate would intervene in the Conference Championship against the Steelers when Brady went down in the second quarter with a knee injury, Drew Bledsoe stepped in and led the Patriots to a 24-17 win. The question was, who would now start the Super Bowl?
In the end Belichick went with his young gun Brady against the St Louis Rams, then dubbed the Greatest Show on Turf, but Brady inspired his team to a 17-3 lead but the Rams pulled level with 1.30 left I regulation.
Brady then led the Patriots downfield to get into field goal range to allow Adam Vinatieri to kick the 48 yard winning field goal to earn Brady his first Super Bowl ring.
A Double Decade Of Incredible Success
The only time Tom Brady failed to reach the playoffs in his career came in 2002, when after a 9-7 season, the Patriots missed out on defending their Super Bowl title.
He would not miss another attempt at the playoffs in the rest of his career as New England dominated the AFC East and at times, the AFC and NFL.
Five more Super Bowl victories followed including an incredible come from behind win over the Atlanta Falcons, who had led the Patriots 28-3 in the second half, only for New England to tie the game and then clinch the win with a touchdown in overtime.
NFC East teams deprived Brady of three more rings, twice the New York Giants defeated the Patriots in a Super Bowl, on one occasion stopping the Patriots from having a 17-0 perfect season.
A few years later it would be the unlikely hero Nick Folk that led the Philadelphia Eagles to an unexpected 41-33 win over the Patriots.
It is worth noting that over this 20 year period, Brady did endure some setbacks, he was suspended for four games for his part in “deflategate” where the Patriots were alleged to have deflated footballs to make it easier for Brady to hold them.
He also suffered a career ending injury in 2008 in the season opener against the Chiefs, tearing his ACL and MCL, which meant he missed the rest of the season with Matt Cassell stepping in and leading the Patriots to an 11-5 record, which meant they missed out on the playoffs.
In the 2018 season, he earned his sixth Super Bowl win when defeating the Rams 13-3. That mean’t that the Patriots joined the Steelers with six Super Bowl wins, the same number Tom Brady held individually.
However, that record would not stand for too long.
Move From New England To Florida
In 2019, Tom Brady played his final season in New England, as he led the Patriots to a 12-4 record but they ran into an in-form Tennessee Titans, who were coached by Brady’s ex-team mate Mike Vrabel, with the Titans running out 20-13 winners.
A couple of months later, Tom Brady announced he was leaving the New England Patriots for a new position as the quarterback at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Head coach Bruce Arians had eschewed the standard approach of building for the future, and instead put together a team of veterans in order to win now. At the start of the 2020 season, many felt it was a risky and flawed approach.
By the end of the season, and a 31-9 victory over the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, Brady had won more Super Bowls as an individual than any other NFL player or any other NFL team.
Another crack at the playoffs this year following a 13-4 season with Tampa Bay came up short against the Rams and a couple of weeks after, Brady announced his retirement.
His career is the greatest of all time. There is no doubt about it. And it is likely that nobody will ever come close to achieving what he has achieved.
Why Tom Brady Is The GOAT
There’s no need to debate if Brady is the greatest player of all time. The stats prove it.
Most Super Bowl Wins In NFL History – 7 (more than any other player or franchise)
Most Super Bowl Appearances In NFL History – 10
Most Super Bowl MVP Wins in NFL History – 5
Most Touchdowns In NFL History – 624
Most Passing Yards In NFL History – 84,520
Most Career Regular Season Wins in NFL History – 243
Most Playoff Wins In NFL History – 35
Most Pro Bowl Selections In NFL History – 15
First Player In NFL History To Win More Than One Super Bowl After Turning 40.
Oldest Player To Appear In A Super Bowl
Youngest QB To Win A Super Bowl
Oldest QB To Win A Super Bowl
Most Seasons With The Same Team As A QB – 20 with New England Patriots
5316 Passing Yards And 43 Touchdowns in his final season is a record for NFL QBs.
Never had a losing season as a starter in his career.
Made the playoffs in every year bar one (2002) when fit enough to play most of the season.
We witnessed something special when Tom Brady was in the NFL. He deserves to enjoy his retirement as unquestionably the greatest player ever.
And do not be surprised to see him make the transition into the commentary box sooner rather than later!
Brady’s greatness transcends pure numbers though. What made him great wasn’t so much that which could be measured. It was the intangibles.
Bill Belichick got that right and it was that which made you know that if you needed to score to win a game and Tom Brady had the ball in his hands, you were very likely to be celebrating the win.
Even if you had 80 yards to go and less than a minute on the clock.
You can measure greatness, but genius is something else and that is what Tom Brady was touched with.