Tom Brady defeated Father Time

After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in last year’s Super Bowl, Brady’s three children and his wife, Gisele Bündchen, found him on the court. As the confetti rained down, Bündchen, who had wanted Brady retired for years, cut to the chase, according to Seth Wickersham’s book. It is better to be feared. “What more do you have to prove?” ” she asked.

Brady has nothing left to prove on the field. His final and possibly final act as an NFL player will be when and if he confirms an ESPN report from Saturday that he is retiring at 44 after 22 seasons. Jeff Darlington and Adam Schefter’s report was followed by a series of statements from Brady’s camp that didn’t refute the news so much as cut it short. “Tom will be the only person to articulate his plans with complete accuracy,” his agent Don Yee said in a statement on Saturday. “He knows the realities of the football industry and the planning calendar as well as anyone, so it should be soon.” Brady’s father, Tom Brady Sr., called ESPN’s report “speculative.”

“Tommy hasn’t made a final decision one way or the other,” Brady Sr. told NFL Network’s Mike Giardi. “Anyone who says he did is absolutely wrong.”

It’s worth noting that Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians said Brady told them he hadn’t decided yet if he wanted to retire. Of note is Brady’s ESPN+ docuseries The man in the arena– in which Brady recounts his entire professional career – there is one episode left. The final, originally scheduled for mid-January, would have been pushed back to the spring. It should also be noted that Brady has a $15 million signing bonus from last year due to him on February 4. Brady also wouldn’t want his decision to overshadow this weekend’s conference championship games and the Super Bowl – oops!

Putting it all together, perhaps Brady’s official announcement will come between the end of the Super Bowl on February 13 and the official start of free agency on March 14, with the details leaked in a special season finale. of The man in the arena. Perhaps he will announce his intentions sooner. Maybe he’ll even say he’s coming back for one more season (although he apparently doesn’t want a farewell tour like Derek Jeter or Kobe Bryant). Whatever happens, we don’t have to wait until then to break down Brady’s career.

Where to start? Brady’s career is the Grand Canyon: no amount of snapshots can capture its magnitude. But we can try. You know the statistics now. Seven Super Bowl rings, which is not only more than any other player in NFL history, but more than any other team in NFL history. Brady has the same number of Super Bowl appearances as the Bears, Titans, Jets, Chargers, Saints, Browns, Cardinals, Jaguars, Lions and Ravens combined. Brady made 10 Super Bowl appearances in his 20 seasons as a starter, meaning he was more likely to make the Super Bowl (50%) than Michael Jordan was to make a shot (49.7 percentage). career field goals). The Belichick-Brady Patriots won the AFC East at a higher rate (89.5%) than Jordan made free throws. Brady spent more than 400 days, or more than a year of his life, in the playoffs. He played 17 games, a full season, in the divisional round and went 14-3. Brady grew up in the Bay Area worshiping Joe Montana’s 49ers, and now Brady has more Super Bowl wins and the same number of playoff wins (35) as the 49ers franchise, which was established three decades before. Brady’s birth.

But victory aside – and Brady’s main legacy is victory, obviously – Brady transcended thin air and created his own atmosphere by the end of his career. While the Buccaneers lost to the Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs last week, Brady comes out on top with one last victory: He beat Father Time.

Tom Brady is 44 years old. He was the oldest active player in the NFL that four-year season. He was the oldest person to never playing quarterback for the majority of the season. And there’s a serious argument that he was the NFL’s best player this season. He’ll likely come second in MVP voting to Aaron Rodgers, and if those same voters could vote again to include what we’ve seen in the playoffs, he might have passed Rodgers as the winner (MVP votes are subject at the end of the regular season and revealed before the Super Bowl).

Brady led the NFL in passing yards and passing touchdowns in 2021. Besides those counting stats, he also led the league in advanced stats like PFF wins over substitution and was PFF’s highest-ranked quarterback in 2021. Brady is walking away (probably), and that’s the point – he’s market away, without limping.

Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger retired because their arms stopped cooperating. Brady has played far longer than all of them – he has won as many Super Bowls in his 40s as Manning has in his career – and he has become a better athlete as they age. Brady is faster than he was 20 years ago. You can tell by watching him play (he rushed for 81 yards this year, his highest total in a decade). Brady can also throw the ball farther now. Damn he looks better at 44 than at 23.

It’s one thing for Brady to earn as much as he has over the past 20 years. It’s another thing for him to break the aging curve as completely as he has. (You could split Brady’s Patriots career in half and he would make the Hall of Fame twice, then he started a third Hall of Fame career with the Buccaneers). But it’s another to end your career in Tampa Bay performing at such a high level.

In the Bucs’ divisional round loss to the Rams, Tampa Bay’s 27-3 comeback nearly replicated the Patriots’ 28-3 comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. (The Rams, unlike the Falcons, managed to avoid overtime by winning with a field goal when time expired.) Despite exiting the playoffs early, Brady has proven over the past two seasons that if quarterbacks are dedicated enough to treat their bodies like temples, they can bend the natural aging curve of athletes to their liking. Not only did Brady extend the aging curve, he reversed it. It has reached previously unreachable highs, stayed there longer than anyone thought possible, and somehow continues to trend higher.

It is obvious that Brady can continue to play if he wishes. But it seems the cost of the game has finally outweighed the benefits. Football-wise, Tampa Bay’s ceiling situation next year means they’ll likely lose key players: running back Leonard Fournette, receiver Chris Godwin, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and OJ Howard, guard Aaron Stinnie, center Ryan Jensen, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, cornerback Carlton Davis and safety Jordan Whitehead are all set to hit free agency. That makes up nine of the 22 players who started for the Buccaneers in their Super Bowl win. And with the Buccaneers likely stepping back, it likely made the Bündchen question ring a lot louder in Brady.

In an episode of Brady’s Facebook show, Tom Vs. Time, Bündchen said: “Football, as far as I’m concerned, is his first love.” But a departure would mean Brady could now choose family and fatherhood over football. Besides the violent nature of the game and the risk of serious injury, there is also the time commitment. Perhaps the greatest obstacle to an athlete’s longevity is their ability to achieve peak physical condition each season. Brady’s solution to this problem was to always stay in shape (or almost). As he got older, it took an already demanding six to nine month football schedule and turned it into a year-round exercise. At some point, it probably becomes frustrating for Brady’s family to have his wide receivers join them on the family vacation.

In 2018, Bündchen wrote a letter to Brady explaining her feelings. Brady later detailed that letter in an interview with Howard Stern.

“She felt like I’d be playing football all season and she’d be taking care of the house and suddenly at the end of the season I was like, ‘Great, let me get into all the my other business pursuits, let me get into my football training,” Brady told Stern. “And she’s sitting there going, ‘Well, when are you going to do things for the house? When are you going to take the kids to school and do this? And that was a big part of our marriage. I had to check it out myself. Because she says, ‘I have goals and dreams too.’

On that podium after the Bucs won the Super Bowl — with the biggest Super Bowl margin of Brady’s career — Gisele asked Brady what else he had to prove. Brady tried to change the subject and turned to his children. ” You are happy ? asked Brady. “I am happy.”

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