NFL icon Tom Brady confirms retirement
Little more than a week after his Tampa Bay Buccaneers were ousted from this season's NFL playoffs by the LA Rams, Tom Brady, a player unanimously heralded as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, has announced his retirement in a social media post.
Brady's retirement brings to an end a glittering career mostly spent with the New England Patriots, who famously picked him 199th in the 2000 NFL Draft, where he won six Super Bowls under the stewardship of head coach Bill Belichick.
He moved on to sunnier climes in Tampa for what turned out to be his final two seasons in the league, winning last year's Super Bowl and securing passage to the playoffs this season just months out from his 45th birthday - but the playoff defeat to this year's eventual Super Bowl finalists in LA seems to have compelled Brady to finally admit defeat to father time.
"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," Brady wrote in a lengthy statement published on social media.
"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. I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention."
He added: "My playing career has been such a thrilling ride, and far beyond my imagination, and full of ups and downs. … I will remember and cherish these memories and re-visit them often. I feel like the luckiest person in the world."
However, Brady's statement neglected to mention any of his achievements during his near two-decade spell in New England, nor did it thank head coach Bill Belichick or owner Robert Kraft.
Brady also stated that he is "excited" for his future, even if he doesn't quite yet know what that might be, and also noted the support of his wife, the model Gisele Bundchen, and their three children.
"You are my inspiration," he wrote. "Our family is my greatest achievement. I always came off the field and home to the most loving and supportive wife who has done EVERYTHING for our family to allow me to focus on my career. Her selflessness allowed me to reach new heights professionally, and I am beyond words what you mean to me and our family."
Confirmation of Brady's retirement comes days after it had been reported in several major publications that #12 was on the brink of making an announcement - though he quickly dismissed the speculation and contacted the Buccaneers' hierarchy to say that he had not yet made up his mind.
However, barely 72 hours later that decision has come.
Brady's influence on the NFL is near incalculable. His success in the sport in unmatched not just by other players in his position, but by other teams - with Brady currently holding more Super Bowl victories than any of the other 32 franchises in NFL history.
Additionally, Brady is a five-time Super Bowl MVP, three-time league MVP and has appeared in a record 15 Pro Bowls. His final career tally shows that he threw for 84,520 yards and 624 touchdowns against just 203 interceptions.
His decision to step away comes just months out from a September declaration where he raised the possibility of playing for another six season until his 50th birthday.
In what proved to be his final season in Tampa Bay, Brady again put up outstanding numbers: 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdowns as the Bucs completed the regular season with a 13-4 tally - a franchise record for the most wins.