Nobody born in the twenty-first century has ever experienced an NFL season without Tom Brady.
When the storied quarterback announced his retirement in February of last year, they almost got a taste of what life would be like without him. However, the future Hall of Famer came back less than a month later.
The 45-year-old looks to have finally retired after a disappointing season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ending the most successful career in NFL history that saw him grow from a frail Michigan graduate to the league’s all-time greatest player.
He announced his retirement in a brief video that was uploaded to Twitter. “I assumed when I got up this morning I’d just push record and let you guys know first because I know the procedure was a pretty big deal last time.
It won’t be drawn out. One extremely emotional retirement essay is allotted, and I used mine up last year.
Outside the field
The year prior seemed like the perfect moment to retire.
Brady and the Bucs had agonizingly fallen to the Los Angeles Rams in the 2021 postseason divisional round despite staging a valiant 24-point comeback. Only one year had passed since he had won his seventh Super Bowl ring in his first year in Florida before the devastating end to the season.
He had long already established himself as the greatest player to have ever played at the age of 44, making him by far the most successful player to continue playing into his forties.
It felt like the ideal opportunity to spend time with his family, including his wife Gisele Bündchen, and his three children, and pursue interests other than playing football.
He said he was eager to explore what the future held for him, his family, and other elements of his life when he first announced his retirement.
The future is intriguing. I’m going to take it day by day, as I mentioned earlier,” Brady wrote in February 2022. As so many individuals have done for me, “I know for sure I want to spend a lot of time giving to others and attempting to enrich other people’s lives.”
Brady seemed genuinely excited at the thought of spending more time with Bündchen and his kids, whom he had to forgo to get the most out of his NFL career.
Soon after Brady returned for his 23rd NFL season, the “win at all costs” reputation he had cultivated and elevated to unfathomable heights started to show cracks.
Brady’s weekly podcast appearances in the months preceding and throughout the 2022–23 season featured more philosophical discussions about the game, which led some to speculate that his devotion to competing may have changed after experiencing the delights of life away from the hullabaloo of it.
“I haven’t celebrated a Christmas or a Thanksgiving or a birthday with someone I care about who was born between August and late January in 23 years. Additionally, I’m unable to attend weddings or funerals, Brady remarked.
“I believe there is a time in everyone’s life when they realize: “You know what? I’ve had enough and it’s time to go on and engage in other aspects of life.
Brady’s personal life seemed to be evolving away from the field of play.
Brady took an 11-day leave of absence from training camp in August as the Bucs prepared for their season opener to “handle with personal problems,” according to his head coach Todd Bowles.
After her spouse initially retired from the field, Bündchen expressed “concerns” about it in an interview with Elle magazine a month later.
According to Bündchen, “This is a harsh sport, and I have my children, therefore I would like him to be more present.” “I’ve discussed such topics with him numerous times. But in the end, I believe that everyone needs to choose a course of action that suits them. He too must follow his joy.
Around that time, according to the associated press Brady and Bündchen were “living separately,” had retained divorce counsel, and had been resolving “marital troubles.”
After 13 years of marriage, the couple announced their divorce in October.
“With respect for the time we had together, we came to this decision respectfully. We have great children who are the center of our world in every aspect. We are blessed with them. Brady wrote in an Instagram story, “We will keep cooperating as parents to always make sure they receive the love and care they need.
“After careful contemplation, we decided to dissolve our marriage.”
Leaving the top
The Buccaneer’s season never really got going since he still had one more season left to play and his personal life was in a state of flux.
But it wasn’t because Brady’s performance had drastically declined. Brady fell from first place in 2021 to conclude the regular season as No. 11 in the NFL’s quarterback rankings, but he still held a strong position overall, displaying the arm strength, accuracy, and touch of a man half his age.
Instead, Brady’s environment started to disintegrate. The Buccaneers were never able to sustain a winning streak due to an offensive line that was plagued by injuries, his offensive weapons being out of sync or hurt, and the defense having trouble.
Thus, what was supposed to be the team’s farewell performance and a blaze of glory leading to an eighth Super Bowl victory instead sputtered to an 8-9 record during the regular season, earning a playoff spot mainly due to the NFC South division’s subpar play, before being soundly defeated by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs.
Brady demonstrated that he could still perform at a high level, even though the outcomes weren’t ideal. As a result, he didn’t experience a decline in performance during his final season of fame like many other older quarterbacks before him.
Brady’s future was in doubt because his contract was set to expire at the end of the current campaign. He would stay with the Bucs, right? Would he join another squad to carry on his illustrious career? A retirement, perhaps?
After giving it some thought, Brady decided to end his career for the second—and ostensibly final—time as he embarked on a new career in broadcasting. Brady consented to join Fox Sports in May of last year and accepted a rumored $375 million, 10-year deal to serve as the network’s top analyst.
Brady stated on his weekly podcast that he was “truly looking to learn” when he started his broadcasting career the day before he retired.
Brady added, “There’s so much to learn. There is a lot to learn. It’s always changing. As much as you may assume I enjoy teaching others, I’m eager to pick up new skills. I’m eager to pick up knowledge from everyone I speak with.
“I get the chance to work in a position where I can travel and learn from all the other people I’ve loved and looked up to in other organizations and people. I find it exciting as well. When that time comes, I feel like I’m looking forward to having the chance to accomplish that.
If Brady devotes the same level of effort and commitment to his broadcasting job as he did to his playing career, it may be the start of the next exciting and successful chapter in his life.
But Brady’s last gasp demonstrated conclusively—not that we needed any more proof—that he still had it at a far older age than 40, having initially walked away before giving in to the siren song of NFL activity.