TAMPA, Fla. — Tom Brady walked away from the NFL on his own terms, still at the top of his game.
Brady, the most successful quarterback in league history and one of the greatest champions in professional sports, has retired after winning seven Super Bowls and setting numerous passing records in an unprecedented 22-year career.
“This is difficult for me to write, but here it goes: I am not going to make that competitive commitment anymore,” Brady wrote in a lengthy post on Instagram. “I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention.”
The 44-year-old Brady has long stated his desire to spend more time with his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, and three children despite his unique ability to perform exceptionally well at an age when most athletes are way past their prime.
Brady goes out after leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title last season and NFC South championship this season.
News of Brady’s pending retirement leaked Saturday but he said Monday night on his SiriusXM podcast he wasn’t ready to finalize his plans.
That came Tuesday morning.
“Right now, it’s best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes,” Brady said.
Brady thanked the Buccaneers organization, his teammates, ownership, general manager Jason Licht, coach Bruce Arians, his trainer Alex Guerrero, agents Don Yee and Steve Dubin and his family in his nine-page post. He didn’t mention the New England Patriots, where he spent his first 20 seasons and won six Super Bowls playing for Bill Belichick. But Brady thanked the Patriots and their fans on Twitter, saying: “I’m beyond grateful. Love you all.”
Brady said he’s still figuring out how he’ll spend his time, but he plans to be involved in his TB12 health and wellness company, Brady clothing line and NFT company.
“I know for sure I want to spend a lot of time giving to others and trying to enrich other people’s lives, just as so many have done for me,” he said.
Brady led the NFL in yards passing (5,316), touchdowns (43), completions (485) and attempts (719) in 2021, but the Buccaneers lost at home to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round.
Brady leaves as the career leader in yards passing (84,520) and TDs (624). He’s the only player to win more than five Super Bowls and was MVP of the game five times.
Brady won three NFL MVP awards, was a first-team All-Pro three times and was selected to the Pro Bowl 15 times. He was 243-73 in his career in the regular season and 35-12 in the playoffs.
“To finish a 22-year career while still performing at his peak was nothing short of extraordinary,” Licht said. “I wish we had more time with Tom, but I understand and respect his decision to leave the game in order to spend more time with his family.”
Brady went from 199th pick in the 2000 draft to replacing an injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001 and leading New England to a Super Bowl victory over the heavily favored Rams that season.
He led the Patriots to consecutive Super Bowl titles following the 2003-04 seasons. No team has since repeated as champions.
But New England wouldn’t win another one for a decade, twice losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, including a 17-14 defeat on Feb. 3, 2008, that prevented the Patriots from completing a perfect season.
Brady earned his fourth ring after the 2014 season. Two years later, in the biggest Super Bowl comeback, he led the Patriots out of a 28-3 deficit in the third quarter against Atlanta to win in overtime for No. 5. Brady got his sixth championship when New England beat the Rams following the 2018 season.
He joined the Buccaneers in 2020 amid a pandemic, instantly transforming a franchise that hadn’t won a playoff game in 18 years. His buddy Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement to join him and they helped the Buccaneers become the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its stadium.
“He set a standard and helped create a culture that took our team to the mountaintop,” Arians said.
Brady reached the playoffs 19 times, won 18 division titles, went 10-4 in conference championships and 7-3 in Super Bowls.
After starting his first game on Sept. 30, 2001, Brady was under center for every game except when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1 in 2008 and the first four games in 2016 when he sat out a suspension because of the deflated footballs scandal.
“An incredible competitor and leader, his stellar career is remarkable for its longevity but also for the sustained excellence he displayed year after year,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
Known for his work ethic, intense exercise regimen and strict diet, Brady was better with age.
After turning 37, Brady won four Super Bowls and was 17-4 in the playoffs. He was 95-30, completed 65.2% of his passes for 35,371 yards, 265 TDs and 69 interceptions in the regular season in those eight seasons.
“I have always believed the sport of football is an ‘all-in’ proposition — if a 100% competitive commitment isn’t there, you won’t succeed, and success is what I love so much about our game,” Brady said. “There is a physical, mental, and emotional challenge every single day that has allowed me to maximize my highest potential. And I have tried my very best these past 22 years. There are no shortcuts to success on the field or in life.”
Some of Brady’s greatest moments
Tom Brady filled his 22 seasons in the NFL with more wins, yards passing and touchdowns than any other quarterback.
And nobody has ever earned more Super Bowl rings than Brady with seven.
Brady performed at such a high level that his opponents gauged their own failures a bit more kindly. Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, all of 5 when Brady made his NFL debut, summed up the league’s respect for the quarterback who announced his retirement Tuesday.
“The best QB of all time retired, DANG… he threw his last TD on me,” Ramsey wrote on Twitter.
Brady provided enough highlights to fill the video vaults at NFL Films. Here are just a few of his greatest moments:
Of course, the first Super Bowl decided in overtime featured Brady leading one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
Trailing Atlanta 28-3 in the third quarter, Brady threw two TDs and then drove the Patriots 91 yards by completing six passes to set up the tying score inside the final minute. Once New England won the toss, Brady completed his first five passes as the Patriots won 34-28 for their fifth Super Bowl on Feb. 7, 2017.
Already the oldest quarterback to play in a Super Bowl, Brady outdueled the NFL’s young MVP in Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City on Jan. 20, 2019, with another Super Bowl berth on the line. Brady answered each big drive by Mahomes, especially in a thrilling fourth quarter where the lead was swapped four times.
Once the Chiefs forced overtime, Brady took over after the Patriots won the coin toss. He converted on a trio of third-and-10s with a pair of passes to Julian Edelman and a third to Rob Gronkowski to set up the clinching TD run by Rex Burkhead.
Even coming close to Brady’s record in Super Bowls will be very challenging after he won No. 7 in his first season in Tampa Bay. He threw two touchdowns to Gronkowski and a third to Antonio Brown as the Bucs routed Mahomes and the Chiefs 31-9.
And yes, Brady helped the Bucs become the first franchise to ever win the Super Bowl on its home field.
GIVE HIM SIX
Brady helped the Patriots put an end to Tebow mania in spectacular fashion. Brady tied a playoff record set first by Daryle Lamonica, then matched by Steve Young by throwing six TD passes in a divisional game Jan. 14, 2012.
He threw the first within the first two minutes to Wes Welker and wound up with all six in the Patriots’ first nine drives. Brady threw three passes to Gronkowski. And two of Brady’s six TDs came in the final two minutes of the first half.
Brady finished with 363 yards passing in the Patriots’ 45-10 victory.
Brady dominated his rivalry with five-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning, winning 11 of their 17 meetings and their first playoff showdown.
With the Patriots and Colts facing off in the AFC championship game on Brady’s home turf on Jan. 18, 2004, Brady set the tone from the start. He capped an opening drive with a TD pass to David Givens and had the Patriots up 15-0 at halftime on the way to a 24-14 victory and another Super Bowl berth.
Brady gave a preview of postseason success to come on Jan. 19, 2002, in his only playoff game at old Foxboro Stadium with a big assist from a replay review.
Trailing the Oakland Raiders 13-10 with 1:50 left, former Michigan teammate Charles Woodson knocked the ball out of Brady’s hand. The Raiders recovered the fumble and celebrated only to have the call reversed on replay by referee Walt Coleman because of the little-known Tuck Rule. The rule was later eliminated.
Brady found David Patten on the next play for a 13-yard pass, setting up Adam Vinatieri’s tying field goal. In overtime, Brady completed eight straight passes to position Vinatieri for the winning field goal that launched Brady and the Patriots on the way to their first Super Bowl title.