Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.
Being born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey – just 20 minutes away from MetLife Stadium and just across the water from New York – I’ve been born into a New York Giants family. And in that family – along with other Giants fans – I’ve been conditioned to hate Tom Brady.
I have vivid memories staying up late on a school night for the 2008 and 2012 Super Bowl games where now-retired quarterback Eli Manning faced Brady both times. My blurry television screen was brightly lit with confetti as the Giants rejoiced in victory – both times.
In 2008, Manning and the Giants nabbed the biggest upset and defeated Brady and the New England Patriots 17-14. Then, about four years later, Manning and the Giants did it again, this time one upping Brady and his team with a last-minute score of 21-17. That was New York’s fourth Super Bowl title, and their last ever since.
Now, I’m 23 years old and don’t hate him. It’s undeniable that Brady is one of the best NFL players to ever live. He’s one of the best athletes to ever live. And after 22 years of wowing football fans with his talent, he’s decided to retire.
Rumors circulated of his retirement after Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were eliminated from the 2022 divisional playoffs by the Los Angeles Rams 30-27. The news was confirmed Saturday afternoon by NFL insider Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington.
But Brady’s management denied the news. Brady meanwhile officially announced the news Tuesday morning with an Instagram post.
It’s surprising, but not surprising at the same time. After all, he’s walking away from the sport at 44 years old with seven championship rings – six with the Patriots and one with the Buccaneers.
Brady’s story is about a man who seized opportunity.
Playing from Michigan, Brady was drafted 199th overall in the sixth round in the 2000 NFL Draft by the Patriots. He started that season as the fourth-string quarterback behind starter Drew Bledsoe and backups John Friesz and Michael Bishop.
During his rookie season, he was 1-for-3 passing for six yards. But everything changed the next year.
Bledsoe again opened as the starting quarterback, but in the Pats’ second game and home opener, he suffered internal bleeding after taking a hit from New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis in the fourth quarter.
Brady was named the starting quarterback in the next game.
The California native won his first ring at Super Bowl XXXVI on February 3, 2002 with an upset over the then-St. Louis Rams. He went on to lead the Pats to back-to-back titles during the 2003 and 2004 seasons, setting an NFL record of winning 21 straight games.
His reign continued for a decade, winning three titles in a span of five seasons from 2014 to 2018. Fans knew to never count TB12 out, especially after two comeback Super Bowl victories against the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 1, 2015 and the Atlanta Falcons on Feb. 5, 2017, the latter being dubbed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Brady left New England during free agency in 2019 and moved to Tampa Bay in March 2020. He gathered stars like tight end Rob Gronkowski – who also played on the Pats – and swept the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 for yet another Super Bowl win.
Brady’s statistics is one thing, but seeing him play is something completely different. He makes it look easy, and there’s not many who can do that.
Tom Brady. Greatest Ever.
— Barstool Sportsbook (@BSSportsbook) January 29, 2022
“I’ve never seen a guy so singularly focused. Any number of the things he does – diet, exercise – I would abhor,” longtime national radio host Jim Rome said of Brady in 2019.
“But he loves that process. It’s not drudgery, it’s not work, he really loves the process. Babe Ruth does not strike me as an avocado ice cream guy. In the sporting landscape, to see his longevity, to see his dedication and to see almost no slippage, I don’t know who you can compare him to at this point.”
Ben Roethlisberger also recently retired after 18 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. “Big Ben” is nabbed as one of the most efficient passers in NFL history and became the youngest Super Bowl-winning quarterback in 2006. He has two Super Bowl rings.