Monday, February 7, 2022
Tom Brady: A Career Retrospective
Tom Brady, the former quarterback of the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has retired. The news first broke on January 28, 2022, but Brady made the official announcement on February 1. We will never see the likes of him again. Let's briefly look back at Brady's career and what made him so special.
Brady is known for playing with a monumental chip on his shoulder, and that inner motivation stems from his college days before he donned a Patriots uniform. He started for just one year at the University of Michigan, and he received little recognition from professional scouts.
NFL teams were not impressed with Brady's profile. They acknowledged that he had all the intangible qualities of a great leader and quarterback, but couldn't look past his athleticism. They said he was skinny, uncoordinated, and slow. He didn't have the talent to play in the NFL.
198 players and five other quarterbacks went before him in the 2000 NFL Draft. At last, the New England Patriots selected Brady in the sixth round with the 199th overall pick. He was an afterthought. It would take a miracle for him to be an NFL starter.
The Patriot Way
Head coach Bill Belichick immediately noticed Brady's work ethic and attention to detail, making him the backup behind Drew Bledsoe. Still, Bledsoe had a stranglehold on the starting job. It would take a miracle for Brady to see the field with Bledsoe around.
Then, in week two of the 2001 season, Bledsoe went down with an injury. Brady was prepared for this moment. He had always envisioned himself as the starter and practiced as such. He stepped in, started for the rest of the year, led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl victory, and remained the starter for the next two decades.
During Brady's tenure with New England, his robotic work ethic and humble personality rubbed off on the entire organization. He and Belichick ushered in a new era of football called the Patriot Way.
Brady did his job well, but he never took credit and never pursued the money he deserved. He constantly took pay cuts so Belichick could surround him with better players. He studied film more than anyone in the NFL. He invited teammates to extra workouts in the offseason. He prioritized his health and longevity so he could play as long as possible. All of his hard work and sacrifice paid off.
All athletes of Brady's magnitude have one defining moment in their careers that made them legends. Brady's defining moment happened in Super Bowl LI, in which he led the Patriots from a 28-3 deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons. The comeback itself would have been enough, but Brady's battle with the NFL over Deflategate and his four-game suspension made the 2016-17 season the ultimate revenge tour.
Moreover, Brady's fifth Super Bowl win placed him firmly ahead of Joe Montana as the greatest quarterback of all time. New England also earned the title as the greatest dynasty in NFL history that night, all thanks to No. 12 and the Patriot Way.
But he didn't stop there. Brady won with the Patriots again in 2018-19. He took the Patriot Way to Tampa Bay and won yet another ring in his first season with the Buccaneers. The name Tom Brady had become synonymous with winning by this point.
At last, after 22 years and seven championships, the legend among legends has officially hung up the cleats. He leaves the sport with his feet firmly under him, and his head held high.
The End of an Era
Like all departures of legendary athletes, Brady's retirement is a bittersweet affair. His many haters kiss him goodbye, and his faithful fans pay him homage. However, no matter your opinion of Brady, we all know one thing for sure: football will never be the same again. Now that it's all over, we can all truly appreciate his dedication to the game we love.
Everyone said it would take a miracle for Brady to accomplish the next goal. He needed a miracle to start at Michigan, play in the NFL, win the Super Bowl, win the next Super Bowl, and then the Super Bowl after that. Fans and analysts questioned him from start to finish. They couldn't comprehend what they saw, so they dismissed it and told everyone he would fall off a cliff soon.
The fall never happened. He has answered all the questions. Many fans are happy to see Brady go — not because they dislike him, but because they were tired of seeing him win so much. It had become redundant. That's Brady's most remarkable legacy. When no one believes in you, make them believe. Leave no doubt.
He controlled his destiny, and now he controls his own ending. He could have chosen to come back, but he has nothing else to prove and nothing else to accomplish. Tom Brady has conquered the sport of football and left the arena with the crown still on his head.