Quarterback Tom Brady is retiring. Again. The future Hall of Famer made the announcement Wednesday, exactly one year after his last retirement. But this time, he said the decision is "for good."
He spent 23 years in the league, 20 of which were with the New England Patriots and the rest with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After so many years in the NFL, he has countless stories, hundreds of former teammates, and career accomplishments that will likely never be duplicated.
The Patriots drafted Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft with the No. 199 overall pick. He told owner Robert Kraft that he would be the best decision the franchise ever made, and I think it's safe to say he was.
"I am so proud of Tommy," Kraft said in a statement released by the team. "He has accomplished everything there is to achieve in this game, and so much more. No player in NFL history has done it as well for as long as Tom Brady. He is the fiercest competitor I have ever known and the ultimate champion. He led the Patriots to two decades of unprecedented dominance. He is truly the greatest of all-time. Words cannot adequately express the gratitude my family, the New England Patriots and our fans have for everything he has done. It's been a blessing for me to watch him grow, first as a young professional on the field, but most importantly, as a person off it. He is one of the most loving, caring and passionate players I have ever known and I will always consider him a part of our family."
Added Bill Belichick: "Tom Brady was the ultimate winner. He entered the NFL with little to no fanfare and leaves as the most successful player in league history. His relentless pursuit of excellence drove him on a daily basis. His work ethic and desire to win were both motivational and inspirational to teammates and coaches alike. Tom was a true professional who carried himself with class and integrity throughout his career. I thank Tom for the positive impact he had on me and on the Patriots and congratulate him on his amazing career."
To commemorate his (second) retirement, the team that took a chance on the quarterback with the following scouting report upon entering the NFL -- "poor build, skinny, lacks great physical stature and strength, lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush, lacks a really strong arm, can't drive the ball downfield, does not throw a really tight spiral" -- posted a video montage of No. 12 highlights.
"Forever a legend," the caption read. "Congratulations, [Tom Brady]"
In 23 years, Brady threw 649 regular season touchdowns to more than 90 different players, but one of his favorite targets was his BFF and sidekick, wide receiver Julian Edelman. Of all 96 receivers, Edelman ranked third for most touchdowns caught from the GOAT with 36, behind only Randy Moss (39) and Rob Gronkowski (90).
Edelman and Brady have long made their "bromance" public on social media, on the sidelines during games and working out together, so it was no surprise that when Brady decided to hang up the cleats, Edelman had a post ready.
Referencing Brady's retirement video, where he said you only get one long emotional retirement post and he already used his, Edelman wrote, "You only get one super emotional reaction to the GOAT retiring, and I used mine up."
The social media post continues with, "So I'll just say this. Watching you and learning from you as a player, teammate, leader, son, brother, and father has been the experience of a lifetime. Love you buddy. PS. Pickleball partners?" along with a heart and goat emoji.
Edelman shared 10 photos of them together on the field, including photos from some of the Super Bowls they won together.
Brady's other favorite target, Rob Gronkowski, who followed TB12 to Tampa, shared a message on Instagram for his quarterback. "Tommy, since I already wrote you a long retirement message last year, this time I shall say, welcome to the 2x retired club. You're a legend and you always will be, my friend."
Gronk retired as a Patriot, but when Brady announced he was going to the Bucs, No. 87 unretired to join who he calls the only quarterback he would ever play with. The two won a Super Bowl together before Gronkowski retired for a second time.