What has been reported as an inevitability is now official: Tom Brady is retiring from the NFL after 22 seasons. The seven-time Super Bowl champion officially announced his retirement on Tuesday via his social media accounts.
"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 wrote. "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. This is difficult for me to write, but here it goes: I am not going to make that competitive commitment anymore. I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention.
"I've done a lot of reflecting the past week and have asked myself difficult questions. And I am so proud of what we have achieved. My teammates, coaches, fellow competitors, and fans deserve 100% of me, but right now, it's best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes."
Brady's announcement comes after word got out over the weekend that he would be walking away from the game. On Friday, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported that those within Brady's inner circle expected the 44-year-old to announce his retirement in the near future. Later in the weekend, a number of reports indicated that Brady had, in fact, decided to retire. However, Brady's agent, Don Yee, and father, Tom Brady Sr., both denied the retirement report, noting that no decision had been made at that point. On his "Let's Go!" podcast released on Monday, Brady said that he was "still going through the process" of deciding his NFL future.
Now, there is an abundance of clarity as Brady himself has put the official word in that his football career has come to a close.
Brady's career has been 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.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released the following statement about Brady:
Tom Brady will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play in the NFL. An incredible competitor and leader, his stellar career is remarkable for its longevity but also for the sustained excellence he displayed year after year.
Tom made everyone around him better and always seemed to rise to the occasion in the biggest moments. His record five Super Bowl MVP awards and seven Super Bowl championships set a standard that players will chase for years.
He inspired fans in New England, Tampa and around the world with one of the greatest careers in NFL history. It has been a privilege to watch him compete and have him in the NFL. We thank him for his many contributions to our game and wish Tom and his family all the best in the future.
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.