The End of an Era: Tom Brady Retires
Breaking Down The GOATs Remarkable Rise to the Top
Well, it's official. After 22 years in the NFL, Tom Brady, the Greatest of All Time, is calling it a career. There's no denying that Tom Brady is the greatest QB of all time, but he is arguably the greatest player to ever play in the NFL. His competitive drive is what made him so great, and it's also helped him win a record seven Super Bowls while competing in a 10, a record that still stands today.
Brady will go down as one of the greatest athletes in American history, and his legacy will live on forever. His career has always revolved around his ability to overcome, strive, and become great. From the start of his career to the end, Tom Brady's career has been nothing short of spectacular.
Part One: Pick 199
If you are familiar with Brady's career, you know that it didn't start easy. Following a solid collegiate career at the University of Michigan, Brady wasn't seen as a top draft pick heading into the 2000 NFL Draft. All scouts saw was a skinny white boy who was slow and out of shape. After an abysmal showing at the combine, no one saw potential in Brady with six QBs taken before Brady. However, the New England Patriots decided to take the risk, and they selected Tom Brady with the 199th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Little did they know, it would be the steal of the draft, and those six QBs are nothing compared to Brady.
Part Two: A Dynasty is Born
Brady started the 2000 NFL Season as the fourth-string QB behind starting QB Drew Bledsoe and backups John Friesz and Micheal Bishop; however, he would finish the season as the second-string. Brady saw limited action in his first year, as he only attempted three passes.
He began the 2001 season as the backup to Bledsoe, but in the second game, Bledsoe went down with an injury. After returning briefly, they handed the ball over to Brady; that was the last time Drew Bledsoe played a snap for New England.
Following their 0-2 start, the Patriots finished their season 11-5, won the AFC East, and earned a first-round bye. Brady finished the 2001 season with 2,843 passing yards and 18 TDs. Despite a controversial call late in the game, the 2001 Playoffs saw the Patriots squeak past the Raiders, with Brady tossing for 312. Brady would get hurt the following week against the Steelers, but with Bledsoe in relief, the Patriots got past the Steelers and earned the right to play the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
With the Patriots listed as 14-point underdogs, Tom Brady returned from injury and led the Patriots to a 17-3 early in the game. However, St. Louis rallied late to tie the game. With the Patriots getting the ball at the 17-yard line with no timeouts and 1:30 left in the game, John Madden thought the Patriots should just run out the clock to force OT. Instead, as time expired, Brady led the Patriots down the field to set up Adam Vinatieri with the game-winning kick. With the win, Brady became the youngest QB ever to win the Super Bowl at the age of 24, in addition to winning the MVP. Also, following the season, Bledsoe was traded to the Bills.
After missing the playoffs in 2002, Brady would lead the Patriots to back-to-back Super Bowls. In 2003, Brady led the Patriots to a 14-2 record after winning twelve consecutive games to end the season. They would march to Super Bowl XXXVIII, holding off the Carolina Panthers. Brady set a Super Bowl record with 32 completions and threw for 354 yards and three TDs.
The following season, Brady helped the Patriots set an NFL record with 21-straight wins dating from the previous year. Once again, New England finished with a 14-2 record, with Brady throwing for 3,692 yards, 28 TDs, and a 92.6 passer rating; good enough for his second pro bowl. Brady would get past Manning and the Colts in the Divisional Round, then he would have a perfect performance against the Steelers. The Patriots would defeat the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX narrowly. As of 2021, the Patriots are the last team to go back-to-back.
Part Three: Keeping the Legacy In Tact
In '05 and '06, Brady would put together solid seasons but failed to make it to the Super Bowl. In 2005, Brady finished the season with over 4,000 yards and earned a bid to his third Pro Bowl; however, they would lose to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional round. Brady had a solid season the following year but didn't make it to the Pro Bowl. After getting past the Jets and the Chargers in the Playoffs, Brady ran into Peyton Manning and the Colts in the Championship game.
In 2007, Brady put together one of the best seasons of all time, leading the Patriots to a perfect regular season. Brady finished the season with 4,806 passing yards, 50 TDs, eight INTs, and had a career-high passer rating of 117.2. It does help when we have guys like Wes Welker and Randy Moss on the outside. That season, Moss had 23 TDs, so that should tell you a lot about this team. The 2007 Patriots will go down as one of the greatest teams, but in Super Bowl XLII, Brady and the Patriots failed to finish the perfect season, as Eli Manning and Giants pulled off the upset.
The following season saw Brady suffer a season-ending injury. He would come back the following season and keep that same level of success for the next four seasons, but the Patriots failed to get back to their previous winning ways. In 2011, Brady made it back to the Super Bowl but again fell to Manning's Giants.
One thing that has defined TB12's career is his ability to overcome adversity. In 2014, Brady led the Patriots to a seven-game winning streak midway into the season and saw them clinch their 12 division title. After blowing out the Colts in the Championship game, Brady advanced to his sixth Super Bowl, breaking a tie with John Elway. In Super Bowl XLIX, Brady threw for 328 yards, four TDs, and two interceptions. Against the Seahawks, Brady guided the Patriots on a ten-point come-from-behind victory.
In 2016, Brady didn't let Deflategate get to him, as despite a four-game suspension at the beginning of the year, Brady came back in October and showed no signs of slowing down, as he led the Patriots to the Super Bowl against the Falcons. Super Bowl LI will go down as the worst day of my life because I had to watch Tom Brady and the Patriots come back from 28-3 down to win the Super Bowl. That is the main reason why so many people, like myself, are happy that Brady is finally hanging it up; we don't want that to happen anymore.
That comeback, whether you like it or not (I certainly don't like it, and just thinking about it makes me want to throw up), capped off a truly remarkable season for Brady, who has had to overcome obstacles his entire career. Following a third league MVP in 2017 (Brady would lose to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII), Brady would win his sixth Super Bowl in 2018, as the Patriots defeated the Rams. 2019 would be his last year with the Patriots; he spent 19 seasons with the Patriots and won six Super Bowls.
Part Four: A New Chapter
After 2019, many began to wonder if Brady, 42, would call it a career. However, Brady had other ideas as he went on to sign a multi-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. No one expected Brady to lead the Bucs to the Super Bowl in 2020, and no one thought Brady would ever win again. Let's say those people were wrong.
After leading the Bucs to their first playoff birth since 2007, they marched to the Super Bowl in Tampa that year. In Super Bowl, LV Brady threw two touchdowns, as the Bucs beat the Chiefs 31-9. Brady set multiple records that night. He extended his record of most Super Bowl wins by a player with seven for starters. Brady also became the second player (Peyton Manning) to win a Super Bowl with two different teams. He was also the first QB to win the Super Bowl in two other conferences. Not only that, he became the oldest player to start, play, win, and receive the MVP award.
Now, Tom Brady is officially calling it a career after 22 seasons, but his retirement is slightly different from others. Unlike many players who retire because they can't go further, Brady retired, leaving fans believing that he still had one or two more years left in the tank.
Following his 2020 Super Bowl campaign, Brady led the Bucs to a 13-4 record and the two-seed in the playoffs. His last season in the NFL turned out to be arguably his best season, stat-wise. He finished the season with an NFL-record 485 pass completions, a career-high 5,316 passing yards, 43 passing yards, and 12 interceptions.
If you thought that was impressive, Brady nearly brought the Bucs back from 27-3 down in the Divisional Playoffs in his final game. While Tampa came up short, Brady showed everyone that he wasn't going down without a fight.
Let me say it one more time: Tom Brady is the GOAT, and there will never be another one. Tom Brady showed no signs of slowing down from winning his first Super Bowl in New England in just his second season to winning his seventh Super Bowl in Tampa at 43. The six QBs picked over Brady in the 2000 NFL draft (Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger, and Spergon Wynn) combined for a total of 44,470 yards and 246 touchdowns. On the other hand, Brady threw for 84,520 yards and 624 touchdowns.
I can sit and talk about Brady all day, as he was indeed the greatest quarterback of all time. Yes, he crushed my soul in 2016 when he completed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history by defeating my beloved Falcons. Yes, he has ruined many other people's lives by being better than everyone else. However, there's no denying his greatness. He's the only player to win a Super Bowl in three different decades and the first to win multiple championships in their forties. No one will ever match his accomplishments, and they ought to start getting a spot ready for him in Canton. There's no doubt in my mind that Tom Brady is a future Hall of Famer.
As I finish writing up this article, something comes to mind. Now that Brady is retired, most of the great quarterbacks I grew up watching are out of the league (aside from Aaron Rodgers): Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, and Brett Farve. Brady trumps them all out of those elite quarterbacks. Even if you put him up against the all-time greats like Joe Montana and guys like Farve and Peyton, who are Hall of Famers, Brady is better them all. Overall, it's safe to say that there will never be another Tom Brady, and I'm incredibly grateful to have been alive to witness greatness.
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Jake Klausner covers all things sports for ThePyrrhic.com. Keep your eyes peeled for NFL Analysis, World Series Recaps, and more from Jake.
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