Tom Brady officially announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday after 22 seasons and seven Super Bowl wins, saying he will no longer make that “competitive commitment.”
Brady released a statement on social media, ending days of speculation, explaining that this “difficult” decision to leave football after more than two decades of success came down to his ability to commit “100%” of himself to the game.
“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,” he began by saying. “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,” he continued. “I have loved my NFL career and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention.”
There were reports over the weekend that said that the veteran quarterback had made the decision to retire, but Brady clarified Monday on the “Let’s Go!” podcast that he was still “going through the process.” He made clear after the Bucs lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round earlier this month that his family would play a large role in his decision-making.
“I have done a lot of reflecting the past week and have asked myself difficult questions,” his statement read. “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 wrote a heartfelt thanks to his Tampa Bay teammates, the Buccaneers fans, the Glazer family, general manager Jason Licht and the coaching staff – giving a special thanks to head coach Bruce Arians for “putting up with me!”
“My playing career has been such a thrilling ride, and far beyond my imagination, and full of ups and downs. When you’re in it every day, you don’t really think about any kind of ending,” he continued.” As I sit here now, however, I think of all the great players and coaches I was privileged to play with and against the competition was fierce and deep, JUST HOW WE LIKE IT. But the friendships and relationships are just as fierce and deep. I will remember and cherish these memories and revisit them often. I feel like the luckiest person in the world.”
The New England Patriots selected Brady, quarterback out of Michigan, with the No. 199 pick of the 2000 NFL Draft. He joined a team that already had quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who had led the Patriots to a Super Bowl.
When Bledsoe was injured during the 2001 season, Brady replaced him, and he immediately was thrust into the spotlight. Brady helped lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl title that year, surpassing Bledsoe and beginning his ascension to stardom.
Brady, along with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, helped build the Patriots into a dynasty. The quarterback only missed one season due to injury during his reign in New England – the 2008 campaign during which he tore his ACL.
Missing that 2008 regular season followed the Patriots’ failure to complete an undefeated season the previous year.
After that Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants in 2011, the Patriots made four more appearances, winning three more titles. Brady won the league MVP award at age 40 after the 2017 season. He led the league with 4,577 passing yards and had 32 touchdown passes that season. It marked the fourth straight year he had thrown fewer than 10 interceptions.
Brady was the subject of an NFL investigation after he was accused of directing team personnel to deflate footballs during the 2014 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The case went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Brady was suspended for four games, and the circuit court eventually upheld the suspension after it was initially overturned by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Brady and the Pats won the 2015 Super Bowl despite the investigation and resulting discipline.
Multiple reports during Brady’s final seasons with the Patriots suggested friction between the two. The issue appeared to stem from Belichick preparing for a future without Brady and the quarterback insisting he still had more fuel in the tank.
It all culminated in a loss to the Tennessee Titans during the 2019 AFC playoffs and Brady’s departure.
Brady signed with the Buccaneers and brought former Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski along for the ride. The team later added receiver Antonio Brown. The Bucs won the 2021 Super Bowl over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Tom Brady and the Bucs failed in their attempt to repeat this season.
Brady nonetheless had one of his best statistical seasons in 2021. He finished with a career-high 5,316 passing yards to go with 43 touchdown passes. It was the first time in his career he threw 40 or more touchdown passes in consecutive seasons. It was only the third time he threw 40 or more passes in a single season.
While his decision to retire was approaching, it was unclear when it would happen. Brady often answered questions about retirement saying he might play into his 50s.
“I’ll know when the time’s right. If I can’t … if I’m not a championship-level quarterback, then I’m not gonna play. If I’m a liability to the team, I mean, no way. But if I think I can win a championship, then I’ll play,” he told NFL reporter Peter King in August
Before a regular-season victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in October, Brady told Andrea Kremer and Hannah Storm he could play well into his 50s.
“I really think I can play as long as I want,” he told them. “I could literally play until I’m 50 or 55 if I wanted to do. I don’t think I will obviously … my physical body won’t be the problem. I think it’ll just be, I’m just missing too much of life with my family.”
Brady and Gronkowski answered the internet’s burning questions in a taped segment for the team in September too. Both players were wearing reflective sunglasses and Brady was in a bucket hat.
“Can Tom Brady play until 50 years old?” Gronkowski asked.
“Wow, seems to be a really hot question lately,” Brady replied. “’Can Tom Brady play till 50?’ Like, 50 years old. I don’t find it so difficult, and plus living in Florida it’s kind of a retiree state. I feel like I can just play and glide into retirement. I think I can, I think it’s a yes.”
“It pains her to see me get hit out there. And she deserves what she needs from me as a husband, and my kids deserve what they need from me as a dad,” Brady told the “Let’s Go!” podcast.
“And I’m gonna spend some time with them and give them what they need because they’ve really been giving me what I need the last six months to do what I love to do. I said this a few years ago, it’s what relationships are all about. It’s not always what I want. It’s what we want as a family. And I’m gonna spend a lot of time with them and figure out in the future what’s next.”
Brady said he doesn’t need a farewell tour because it would be “distracting.”
“I’m really an ultimate – my enjoyment comes from not a recognition of kind of what I’ve accomplished as a player in the league,” Brady said. “My enjoyment comes from the competition more so than anything. Even yesterday, I was thinking about competing. I was thinking about this whole year, about competing. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than that.
“So when the time comes to think about post-career and second career, I’ll think about those things. It’s just when you’re 44, I guess you get asked about that a lot. And a lot of people thought I was done playing football in 2015. A lot of people in 2016 said, ‘You’re done.’ A lot of people in 2018, and when I left the Patriots, they said, ‘You’re done.’”
He remains the league’s all-time leader in passing yards (84,520), touchdown passes (624), completions (7,263) and attempts (11,317). He finished second in fourth-quarter comebacks with (42), one behind one of his fiercest rivals, Peyton Manning.