With a sense of self-awareness and a slight quiver in his voice, Tom Brady announced his retirement from the NFL Wednesday morning in a 51-second video posted to social media.
The announcement came a year to the day after Brady first retired, a career move that lasted only 40 days as he ultimately returned to the Buccaneers for his 23rd NFL season — three with Tampa Bay and 20 with the Patriots.
This time, though, is “for good,” Brady said in a brief but emotional video shot on the beach after sunrise. Brady also posted to his Instagram account a collection of photos from his early days as a backup in Foxborough through his final years with the Buccaneers.
It was a marked difference from his first retirement, which included a leaked report two days earlier and a lengthy letter from Brady that caused commotion locally by not mentioning the Patriots.
“I won’t be long-winded,” Brady said this time. “You only get one super-emotional retirement essay, and I used mine up last year, so I really thank you guys so much, to every single one of you for supporting me — my family, my friends, teammates, my competitors. I could go on forever, there’s too many. Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream. I wouldn’t change a thing. Love you all.”
Truly grateful on this day. Thank you 🙏🏻❤️ pic.twitter.com/j2s2sezvSS— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) February 1, 2023
Brady didn’t state his reasons for retiring, and his announcement seemed to take many across the NFL by surprise. Though he was 45 — the oldest quarterback to start a game in the NFL — Brady still played relatively well in 2022, and looked to have several options to play again in 2023, whether it be with the Buccaneers, 49ers, Raiders, Jets or another team.
His father, Tom Brady Sr., said by phone Wednesday that his son told him about a week ago that he would be retiring.
“We’re not shocked by any means,” Brady Sr. said from the family’s home in northern California. “He has played football for 32 years out of his 45, living his dream for three-fourths of his life. It’s been a wonderful ride. He’s very secure in his decision. It’s about time.”
For many observers, Brady’s retirement won’t be official until the 2023 NFL season kicks off in September. When Brady announced his retirement on Feb. 1 last year, it was just the beginning of a complex plan to join the Dolphins front office as an executive and limited owner, with the possibility of un-retiring to play quarterback for them.
Those plans were scuttled when Brian Flores filed an employment lawsuit against the Dolphins just hours after Brady’s announcement. Brady ultimately came out of retirement March 13 to return with the Buccaneers.
But his 2022 season was a tumultuous one, and his frustrations were visible.
Injuries and coaching issues led to the Buccaneers having the 25th-ranked scoring offense and to Brady having the first losing season of his career (8-9).
Off the field, Brady’s marriage to supermodel Gisele Bundchen ended in divorce after 13 years, and he took multiple extended absences from the Buccaneers to deal with it.
“This has been a hard year,” Brady Sr. said. “I’m really happy for Tommy from the standpoint that he’s going to be able to spend more time with his kids. He’s going out on his own terms, and he’s in good health. He’s taken a lot of hits over the years — a lot of sacks, a lot of knockdowns. I am thrilled that he won’t get knocked down again.”
Tampa Bay quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen, who retired last week, told the Tampa Bay Times that Brady lost 15 pounds during the season.
“To watch Tom have to leave training camp for 11 days to take care of some personal problems, it was heartbreaking stuff,” Christensen said. “I have an unbelievable respect for what Tom did this year. Off-the-charts amount of respect for him just managing things.”
After the Buccaneers were knocked out of the playoffs by the Cowboys last month, Brady was asked on his podcast by radio host Jim Gray about his plans.
“If I knew what I was going to [expletive] do I would’ve already [expletive] done it,” he told Gray. “I’m taking it a day at a time.”
While many believe Brady can still be a good — if not great — quarterback, he walks away with nothing to prove. He accomplished his stated goal of playing until he was 45. And after 21 full seasons as a starter — he was a backup in his 2000 rookie season and missed practically the entire 2008 season with a torn ACL — Brady owns just about every quarterback record in NFL history.
He has the most Super Bowl wins (seven) and appearances (10). He has the most wins in the regular season (251) and postseason (35). He owns the records for pass attempts, completions, yards, and touchdowns. Brady won three MVPs, won five Super Bowl MVPs, was named to 15 Pro Bowls, and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s and 2010s. He won Comeback Player of the Year in 2009.
He was remarkably durable, missing only those 15 games in ‘08 because of his knee and four games in 2016 to serve a suspension for his role in the “Deflategate” episode. Even in 2022, one of his worst statistical seasons of his career, Brady set NFL records for pass attempts (733) and completions (490).
Beyond the numbers, Brady authored an improbable career worthy of Hollywood, and led the Patriots to a 20-year dynasty that is unrivaled in the NFL.
Legend has it that Brady, a sixth-round pick out of Michigan in 2000 (No. 199 overall), told Patriots owner Robert Kraft in his rookie training camp, “I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.”
It proved prophetic. Brady began his career as the fourth-string quarterback, became a starter only after a devastating injury to Drew Bledsoe, and by the end of his second season was a Super Bowl champion and international sensation.
“I am so proud of Tommy. He has accomplished everything there is to achieve in this game, and so much more,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement released by the team. “No player in NFL history has done it as well for as long as Tom Brady. He is the fiercest competitor I have ever known and the ultimate champion.
“He led the Patriots to two decades of unprecedented dominance. He is truly the greatest of all time. Words cannot adequately express the gratitude my family, the New England Patriots and our fans have for everything he has done.
“It’s been a blessing for me to watch him grow, first as a young professional on the field, but most importantly, as a person off it. He is one of the most loving, caring and passionate players I have ever known and I will always consider him a part of our family.”
Brady won three Super Bowls in his first four seasons as a starter to cement himself in NFL lore, but he was only getting started. In 2007 came the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history. Brady led a second wave of Patriots championships with three more Super Bowl victories (plus a loss) from 2014-18.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick also released a statement through the team: “Tom Brady was the ultimate winner. He entered the NFL with little to no fanfare and leaves as the most successful player in league history. His relentless pursuit of excellence drove him on a daily basis. His work ethic and desire to win were both motivational and inspirational to teammates and coaches alike.
“Tom was a true professional who carried himself with class and integrity throughout his career. I thank Tom for the positive impact he had on me and on the Patriots and congratulate him on his amazing career.”
In his final years, Brady’s rigorous training methods helped him break barriers for aging athletes. He had more playoff wins after turning 37 (17) than any other quarterback has over his entire career. He is the only quarterback to win a Super Bowl after age 40, and he won two. He started 112 games after turning 40, 85 more than anyone else.
In his final act of greatness, Brady left New England in 2020 for Tampa Bay, the NFL’s losingest organization, and promptly won his seventh Super Bowl.
“Tom’s impact on our franchise these past three years has been immense and we are appreciative of the time we had with him,” the Buccaneers owners said in a statement. “He set an exceptional standard that elevated our entire organization to new heights and created some of the most iconic moments in our history.”
Brady did not announce what he has planned next, but he has many options. He has a standing deal with Fox Sports to be its lead NFL commentator, a deal reportedly worth $375 million over 10 years, and he could be part of the network’s Super Bowl coverage next week in Arizona.
Brady has several business ventures, including TB12 fitness, Brady Brand clothing, autograph.io NFTs, and a production company called Religion of Sports.
Assuming he stays retired, Brady will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2028.
By retiring, Brady is saying goodbye to his childhood dream of playing for the 49ers, who need a quarterback in the aftermath of Brock Purdy’s serious elbow injury.
Brady Sr. said he expects his son to live in South Florida and be near his family there.
“We would’ve enjoyed him playing in San Francisco, but we’re much happier with his decision doing this than playing for the 49ers,” Brady Sr. said. “I’m just so proud of the guy. He’s a heck of a good guy. That’s a father talking, but I firmly believe there’s no father who has been given a better son than I have. It’s been a wonderful ride.”
Read more about Tom Brady
- Dan Shaughnessy: This time, we believe him: Tom Brady is done, and the moment is right
- Timeline: Looking back at the highlights from Tom Brady’s 23-year NFL career
- A secret plan, a bombshell lawsuit, and a soccer match: Inside Tom Brady’s un-retirement
- ‘Newly retired group meets on the golf course’: Ex-NFLers, celebs offer Tom Brady congrats on retirement
Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.