Tom Brady
Wikimedia Commons/ Keith Allison

Tom Brady retires

For something that is so commonly discussed in sports, greatness is so hard to define. The illusive criteria that is crucial for its definition seems to differ based on the individual, leading to arguments and disagreements in almost every competitive sport on the planet. People rarely need to be introduced to these debates and I am certain that even those with an interest far removed from sports would recognise the names of these icons. Messi vs Ronaldo, Schumacher vs Hamilton, and Lebron vs Jordan are just a few of the most fervent of debates. However, to ascend beyond debates takes a certain type of greatness, to be that word ‘greatness’ incarnate is perhaps the hardest achievement in sport and arguably has only been achieved a handful of times.

That is why, when a player of greatness leaves a sport, there is obviously an immense outpouring of grief. Witnessing greatness is one of life’s most joyous of emotions and the fact that a player’s brilliance may never be seen again is a brutal awakening. This meant that, when Tom Brady left the National Football League after 23 years of dominance, there had to be the appropriate response. Stories of love and appreciation poured in from around the world, with athletes and fans alike showing gratitude for the accomplishments of a player that might never be witnessed again. In his career, Brady managed three hall-of fame careers in one with an untouchable seven Superbowls, five Superbowl MVPs, three Regular Season MVPs, countless awards and an unforgettable and permanent mark on the sport itself.

through such grit and determination Brady dragged his teams from mediocrity into history

From his rise from position 199 in the draft to the greatest of all time, his fears of becoming an insurance salesman to deflate gate to Tampa and everything in between, the story of the quarterback from Michigan State who took over the NFL is an iconic fairy tale that has undoubtedly woven itself into American iconography. However, while I do believe that these stories are incredible and have almost certainly weaved their way into iconic status, upon the end of his career I think we need to reflect on the fact that this was not a fairy tale at all.

We often hear stories within sport of people with superhuman natural ability. Shaquille O’Neal dominated the NBA for many years with some of the most impressive physical feats ever demonstrated by a basketball player, Lionel Messi came as a gift from the footballing gods, an heir to Diego Maradona who could almost control the ball telepathically, but Brady came into the league unwanted and undesired.

What Brady did was work harder than all of his peers. He said himself that “I think sometimes in life the biggest challenges end up being the best things that happen”, and it was through such grit and determination Brady dragged his teams from mediocrity into history.

The late Kobe Bryant once said that he was chasing perfection and excellence. Even though he knew he would probably never catch it, the sheer fact he was willing to chase it would allow him to defeat most of his opponents, because most of his opponents would never chase anything that didn’t have any guarantees attached. I think this applies to Brady too: the pursuit of excellence, of perfection, drove Tom Brady to greatness.

It wasn’t always easy, or convenient. At many points Brady could have taken an easier route and retired a multi-millionaire, but he fought through, in the mud and the rain, to achieve what had never been achieved, and what will maybe never be achieved again. Tom Brady came from being undesired to being doubted to being undoubtable and unforgettable.

it seems fitting that Brady’s long, storied, hard and determined career ended relaxed on the beach watching the tide to come in and out like the swinging of a pendulum

There will be a lot of reflections on the career of TB12, from now until the distant future. However, very few of us on earth get to make a legacy that is etched in the stones of history, and through his hard work and dedication, Brady is undoubtedly in the peak of the Mount Rushmore of NFL greatness.

An unforgettable stint at the New England Patriots saw the quarterback carry the franchise to victories in 2002, 2004, 2005 before a long stint without lifting the Lombardi trophy. Losing to the Giants in both 2007 and 2011 meant that many started to doubt that the quarterback could still capture the highest accolade in football. Inevitably, Brady proved them wrong, and managed to collect three Superbowls between 2015 and 2019, coming dangerously close to achieving a three-peat.

After leaving the Patriots in 2019, many wondered if the quarterback could succeed without his long-time coach Bill Belichick but, yet again, he kept proving his doubters wrong with his seventh and final Superbowl victory coming in 2021. Brady retired temporarily for a few weeks at the end of the 2022 season, leading to many believing that his career was over, but he thankfully returned for one last run.

This longevity means that many will claim that Brady could have kept playing – rumours are that there was genuine interest from teams like the Raiders and the potentially contending Dolphins.

And while this is true, and Brady could have stayed in the league, it seems fitting that Brady’s long, storied, hard and determined career ended relaxed on the beach watching the tide to come in and out like the swinging of a pendulum.

A very, very well-earned retirement for a man who risked it all on his hard work.

Comments (1)

  • So proud of Tom Brady. I am such a Loyal Fan, and wish him the Happiest Life in his retirement. He has earned it. Hoping he enjoys his children, parents, and friends… and takes time to heal, after that divorce.
    Tom reminded me of me… I had a Nursing Instructor that for some reason did not like me… she said I would never become a good nurse… I should be an airline attendant or model… I told her I had a goal from 1st grade, to be the Best Nurse, ever!
    I was even MORE determined! I did Well on our State Board Exam, 1st time. After 32 years of Nursing, and Loving every minute, in the Operating Room, I retired. It hurt me to retire, but I had to, for health reasons. Tom had a similar experience in his early career, and he was Determined to prove that coach wrong! He DID!!!!
    God bless him. I will continue to enjoy my #12 jersey and multiple GOAT caps. I’m a forever fan, Tom Brady!♥️

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