A Farewell to the NFL’s Greatest Player

Photo courtesy Shea Huening, Flickr

In the 2000 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected Michigan quarterback Tom Brady with the 199th pick in the draft. 

In 2022, the greatest to ever play the sport, Tom Brady, has decided to end his historical run after 22 seasons.

American football has been a staple in households for decades, and there have been many teams, coaches, and players that deserve immense admiration. 

Guys like linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who changed the way offensive football is played and contributed to the rising stock in offensive linemen.

  On the offensive side of the ball with a guy like Jerry Rice, who is the record holder in all major receiving categories by a wide margin, and was integral in the expansion of the West Coast offense.

None of those people have garnered the praise that Brady has piled up throughout his career. The seven-time Super Bowl champion winning quarterback is a bonafide icon.

His humble beginnings as a late round draft pick only made him stronger. He sat behind the presumed Patriots franchise quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, for a season and a half, but then Bledsoe went down with an injury. 

It didn’t take long for Brady to put his stamp on the National Football League. After taking over for Bledsoe, he led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl against the Rams.

He led the Patriots on a game-winning drive that led to a field goal and the title. To quote the late, great John Madden, “What Tom Brady just did gives me goosebumps.”

Brady would continue to give Patriot fans goosebumps, and opposing team nightmares, by winning two of the next three Lombardi Trophies.

Brady has said throughout his career that he didn’t have the mindset that winning the Super Bowl was a huge deal early in his career due to the incredible success his teams had, but that would begin to change.

The Patriots would spend nearly a decade trying to climb the mountain again, and they were in contention nearly every season. During that stretch, Brady collected the passing touchdowns in a season record, while also going a perfect 18-0 before collapsing to the New York Giants.

Brady amassed two league MVPs during the titleless stretch, but as many football fans know, he was more concerned about winning it all. 

The Patriots finally claimed their fourth title in 2014 in a classic game versus the Seattle Seahawks, which ended in one of the most infamous plays in NFL history when Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson at the one-yard line. 

This title firmly cemented Brady in the conversation as the greatest quarterback of all time, but the best was still yet to come. 

In his most impressive performance, the Patriots trailed 28-3 in the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Brady would go on to throw 246 yards in the fourth quarter of the game and eventually willed his team to the most improbable title in NFL history.

That was the game that put Brady in the stratosphere of guys like Lawrence Taylor and Jerry Rice, but the man wasn’t done yet. 

Brady captured another league MVP the following season, and then followed that season up with his final Super Bowl title in New England in 2018 versus the Rams. 

Every football fan was under the impression that Brady would finish his career in a Patriots uniform, but Brady felt it was time to prove his worth once and for all by taking his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

In his two seasons in Tampa, he threw 83 touchdowns and nearly 10,000 yards at the ripe ages of 43 and 44. He also claimed his seventh and final Super Bowl in the 2020 season versus the Chiefs. 

He is set to retire with every record a quarterback can hold in terms of career numbers and wins. His playoff numbers may never be reached in any of our lifetimes, but those aren’t the only things that define Tom Brady.

Tom Brady has always had a chip on his shoulder for not feeling wanted and feeling like he has to prove his worth every single day, and for us regular folks, we have similar feelings in our daily lives. 

Brady has been an excellent role model for people of all ages, and his humbleness and relatability gives even the biggest Patriot haters a sense of respect for the quarterback.

There is no doubt Brady can still play at an extremely elite level in the NFL, but his desire to spend time with his family and friends has left him at peace with what he has accomplished throughout his career. 

From watching Brady’s ESPN documentary “Man in the Arena,” you will learn throughout all the success, Brady is happiest with the relationships he built with his coaches and teammates, and soaking in his successes and defeats with the people closest to him. 

As a lifelong Tom Brady and New England Patriots fan, words can’t describe what Tom Brady has meant to me. He has given me countless lifelong memories that’ll tell the generations to come about. 

Sports are a place where people escape to relax and feel a sense of pride for their respective teams and communities. Tom Brady led my favorite team for 20 years, and there’ll never be another 20 years like Tom Brady has given me as a fan. 

It’ll be very strange to turn on NFL football on Sundays and not see number 12 with the name Brady on the back of it, but after over two decades, the NFL’s greatest and most iconic player has earned the right to hang up his cleats. From NFL fans everywhere, Thank you, Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr.

 

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