From GOAT to gone: Brady makes retirement official

And he’s going out on top, at least personally if not as part of a Super Bowl team. After a couple of premature but apparently accurate reports, Tom Brady announced his retirement from the NFL this morning on Instagram and Twitter:

Other players have gone longer, but not many. George Blanda played for more seasons but transitioned from QB to kicker for several years. To put this in perspective, the previous NFL season without a Tom Brady start took place in the final year of the Bill Clinton administration. Brady’s career predates the war on terror. Brady announced his retirement on social media, which didn’t exist when he started playing in the NFL. At 22 years as a starting QB, Brady played in twenty percent of all NFL seasons. His seven Super Bowl wins account for 13.4% of all Super Bowls played, and that doesn’t include a couple that he lost.

It’s not as if Brady was gassed out, either. Peyton Manning’s last season made it clear that he had just about exhausted everything but his intellect on the field, and only a rest down the stretch allowed him to compete effectively in the playoffs and finish as a Super Bowl winner. Brady led the league this regular season in passing yards with over 5300, 302 yards more than the Charger’s Justin Herbert. He also led the league in passing TDs with 43, two more than the Rams’ Matthew Stafford. His passer rating put him in the upper half of NFL starting QBs too, eighth among QBs with more than six starts. Brady completed 67.5% of his pass attempts this season, ninth among starters, and got sacked less often than most of his competition too.

Brady isn’t just the greatest of all time; he was still one of the best QBs in the league right up to retirement. It’s tough to recall anyone who managed that kind of consistency over anything like this period of time over a career in any sport, not just football or anything near as violent. Gordie Howe comes to mind, and … well, that’s about it.

I never rooted for Brady’s teams, but I always appreciated his talent and focus on the field. Unlike many of his peers, Brady let his play do the talking for him most of the time. While his involvement in controversies such as Deflate-gate will remain attached to his name, they will be seen as minor indiscretions bordering on colorful background now that his career has been completed. The only mystery left is whether he comes back to the league as a coach, or maybe as an owner, considering the money he made in the league. (The gold jacket is assured on the first ballot, of course.) Perhaps Brady will opt for color commentary and analysis … or just walk away and enjoy the rest of his life.

Whatever he desires from retirement, Ton Brady has certainly earned. Congratulations and thanks for some great memories — and some painful ones, too, as a Steelers fan.

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