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The Mass Media

Tom Brady officially announces his retirement

Tom+Brady+in+2019+playing+for+the+New+England+Patriots.
Alexander Jonesi
Tom Brady in 2019 playing for the New England Patriots. Photo courtesy of Alexander Jonesi via Wikimedia Commons.

“I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention.” That is the line from Tom Brady’s Instagram post last week that sent the entire NFL into a spiral. The greatest quarterback to ever grace the game of football has officially announced his retirement after 22 legendary years. As we try to wrap our head around a future without Brady, let’s take a look back at what made Brady the greatest of all time.

With the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft, the New England Patriots selected Brady. He was famously selected behind six other quarterbacks. Those quarterbacks were: Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger and Spergon Wynn. Chances are, out of all of those names, you have probably only heard of Chad Pennington, and that is for good reason; he is the only one who ever made a name as a true starting quarterback in the NFL. Still, none of those quarterbacks ever even made a pro bowl, let alone come close to Brady. So, it is safe to say that Brady entered the league prepared to make every other team regret passing on him.
The early years
In his rookie year, Brady had to fight just to capture a roster spot. Drew Bledsoe was the clear starting quarterback, and it didn’t look like that was going to change anytime soon, considering he was still in his 20s. It wasn’t until week two of his second year that Brady got his opportunity to replace a severely injured Bledsoe. In 14 starts in 2001, Brady managed an 11–3 record while bringing his team to a miraculous Super Bowl victory over “The Greatest Show on Turf,” the St. Louis Rams. 
After a sub-par 2002 season, the Patriots found themselves back on track, rattling off two 14–2 seasons in a row in 2003 and 2004, winning the Super Bowl each of those years. The dynasty was officially beginning and the hype around Brady was increasing exponentially.
The almost perfect years
After 2004, Brady was beginning to put together some seasons with some impressive numbers as a passer, none more impressive than in 2007, when he threw for 4,806 yards and 50 touchdown passes. With the arrival of the dominant Randy Moss, the Patriots offense seemed unbeatable, and for 18 games it was. However, due to a relentless play by Eli Manning and David Tyree, the Patriots would end that season 18–1, just one game shy of a perfect season.
Things would only seem to go downhill in 2008, as Brady would tear his ACL in just the first game of the season and the Matt Cassel-led Patriots would go on to miss the playoffs. However, once Brady returned in 2009, New England would find themselves right back into the playoffs and back into the Super Bowl just two years later in 2011. Once again, after a tremendous regular season where Brady put up 5,235 passing yards along with 39 touchdown passes, the Patriots would fall short to Eli Manning and the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Now Brady’s 3–0 Super Bowl record quickly turned into 3–2 and people were wondering if he would ever win another championship.
The legendary years
In 2014, after a ten-year championship drought in New England, people were questioning whether Brady was even the right person for the job. After taking a 41–14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, it was beginning to look like the beginning of the end for what once was a dynasty. That is until Belichick gave his famous “we’re onto Cincinnati” interview and the team went on to win 10 of the next 12 games. The Patriots would end that season by beating the Seattle Seahawks in one of the most thrilling Super Bowls in history.
Speaking of thrilling Super Bowls, allow me to bring up Super Bowl 51 where the Patriots would face off against the Atlanta Falcons. This game didn’t exactly have the back-and-forth action like there was in the Seahawks game, but little did anyone know that Brady was going to put together the greatest comeback performance in arguably all of sports history. After being down 28–3 late in the third quarter, Brady would carry all of New England to an overtime victory for the ages. This was officially the game where there was no debate, Brady was and is the greatest quarterback of all time and the dynasty was back on.
Brady’s prolific run with the Patriots would last three more seasons where he would bring them to two more Super Bowls and was able to win one of them against the Rams in the 2018 season. However, in 2019, it was clear that Brady was playing disgruntled, and it looked like a dramatic breakup was in the making for the offseason going into the 2020 season. On March 20, 2020, Tom Brady officially signed a two year contract to become the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers had all of the weapons that Brady could have ever wanted, with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and the bonus additions of Rob Gronkowski and later Antonio Brown. So, it made perfect sense that the longtime Patriot would want to sign there. It really seemed like Brady needed to prove that he could win without being coached by Belichick and it really didn’t take long for him to prove the doubters wrong once again. In just his first season away from New England, Brady and the Buccaneers cruised through the playoffs where Brady would have to defeat great quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes on his way to his seventh Super Bowl victory.
In his final season, Brady put together yet another MVP caliber season, throwing for 5,316 yards and 43 touchdowns. After defeating the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild card round, the Buccaneers would face the Rams in the divisional round. Brady was well on his way to making yet another legendary comeback after being down 27–3, but after the Buccaneers tied it late in the game, Rams quarterback Matt Stafford hit Cooper Kupp in stride to put the Rams well in range to hit a game-winning field goal. Despite a valiant comeback effort, Brady’s career ended at the hand of a game-winning field goal against the Rams. It seems his career came full circle considering Brady’s first Super Bowl victory came by a game-winning field goal against the Rams.
It is hard to put in one article just how great Tom Brady was as an NFL quarterback. He holds virtually every passing record in both the regular season and playoffs, along with the fact that he, alone, has more Super Bowls than any other NFL franchise. All I can really say is that there will never be another quarterback like Brady.