Seven-Time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady Announces Retirement (Again)


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Brady, who announced his retirement earlier this year, is widely considered to be the greatest football player of all time.

The number 12 is one of the most iconic and important symbols in popular culture. There are 12 months in the calendar year, 12 numbers on the face of a clock, and 12 studio albums by The Beatles. 12 is also viewed as one of the most meaningful numbers in mythology and religion, as there are 12 principal gods on the Greek pantheon, 12 labors that Hercules needed to perform, and “Twelve Days of Christmas” that count the time between Christmas and Epiphany. 

12 is also the number that quarterback Tom Brady wore throughout his storied 22-year career.

Brady, who announced his retirement earlier this year, is widely considered to be the greatest football player of all time. His accolades are unmatched: 7 Super Bowl victories, 10 Super Bowl appearances, 5 Super Bowl MVPs, 3 NFL MVPs, and first in all-time passing yards (84,520), passing touchdowns (624), and completions (7,263). With such an impressive resume, many would anticipate that Brady must have been drafted first overall or close to first overall; however, the opposite is the case. 

Tom Brady was drafted 199th overall, close to dead last, in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. Brady was viewed as an extremely raw prospect and virtually nobody expected him to be a legitimate quarterback in the NFL. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick even admitted that for the 2000 season, the fourth-string quarterback Brady was a “wasted roster spot.” After sitting out his entire rookie season, Brady got his first NFL action in 2001 against the New York Jets following an injury to then-starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Even though the Patriots lost that day 10-3, Brady played well and only improved from there. In fact, Brady played so well that he ended up leading New England to Super Bowl XXXVI.

Brady played well and only improved from there.

In the days leading up to Super Bowl XXXVI, it was determined that the Patriots would face the St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams. The Rams boasted one of the formidable teams in NFL history and were even nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf.” Los Angeles was favored by many experts to win Super Bowl XXXVI. However, the Patriots shocked the world as they became the biggest underdogs since the 1960s to win the Super Bowl. Thus, Brady earned his first of 7 rings.

In 2003 and 2004, Brady won his second and third Super Bowl games against the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles respectively. Brady became the first (and currently only) quarterback to win consecutive Super Bowl games in the 21st century. 

However, after the triumph in 2004, Brady experienced an extended stretch without winning a single Lombardi. In 2007, Brady led the Patriots to an undefeated record of 16-0 in the regular season and the team won its first 2 games in the postseason. But in Super Bowl XLII, the undefeated Patriots fell to the upstart New York Giants, dashing the Patriots’ hopes of an all-around perfect season. The Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Giants again in 2011.

After coming up short to the Giants twice, Brady returned to the Super Bowl upon the conclusion of the 2014-15 season. There, he faced the defending champion Seattle Seahawks. After a hard fought game, Brady clinched his fourth Super Bowl victory after cornerback Malcolm Butler made a game-sealing interception at the 1-yard line, ensuring a 28-24 Patriots victory in Super Bowl XLIX.

2 years later, the Patriots made Super Bowl LI in pursuit of a fifth Super Bowl title. Initially, the game looked to be a disaster for New England. The Patriots played sloppily and the opposing Atlanta Falcons led 28-3 deep into the third quarter. However, in what was probably Brady’s best game ever, he led the team in staging an improbable comeback. The Patriots scored 25 points in the fourth quarter alone and forced overtime. After winning the coin toss, Brady led New England down the field before throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to running back James White.

However, in what was probably Brady’s best game ever, he led the team in staging an improbable comeback.

New England returned to the Super Bowl the following year, but ultimately fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 41-33. Nevertheless, the Patriots remained undeterred by this defeat and earned a spot the subsequent year in Super Bowl LIII. In a low-scoring game, Brady and the Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl 13-3, tying the league record. 

Despite winning his sixth Super Bowl, Brady regressed the following year. The Patriots made the playoffs but were eliminated by the Tennessee Titans in the wild card round. This regression, coupled with tension within the Patriots organization, prompted Brady not to re-sign. Instead, Brady accepted a trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after playing 2 decades in New England.

The 2020-21 season was Brady’s first in Tampa Bay. The season did not start off soundly for Brady’s team; they were demolished in their opener by the New Orleans Saints. After a stretch of tough losses in the first half of the season, the Buccaneers offense finally began to click. Following a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Buccaneers emerged with renewed confidence. Tampa Bay did not lose a single game from that point onward as they defeated the Washington Football Team (now Commanders), Saints, and Green Bay Packers en route to Super Bowl LV. There, the Buccaneers handily defeated the Chiefs 31-9, giving Brady his seventh Super Bowl win, more than any singular team. 

Brady returned to the Buccaneers the following year for his second season with the team. As the defending Super Bowl champions, Tampa Bay played well in many games and defeated the Eagles in the first round of the 2021-22 playoffs. However, the Buccaneers would go on to fall to the Los Angeles Rams the next week 30-27 in a game Brady nearly engineered an improbable comeback. A few weeks later, Brady announced his official retirement from the NFL.

That was until he unretired just 40 days later. Brady returned for the 2022-23 campaign as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer this past season. Unlike the first two, Brady’s third season proved to be a difficult one from start to finish. Before the season began, Brady and longtime partner Gisele Bündchen filed for divorce. As the season progressed, Tampa lost game after game in an uncharacteristic manner. The Buccaneers finished with a record of 8-9 – the first time Brady experienced a losing season in his entire career – and barely qualified for the playoffs. The Buccaneers lost 31-14 to the Dallas Cowboys in Brady’s final career game. On February 1, after a twenty-three year career, Brady announced his second, and likely final, retirement from the NFL.

Tom Brady on January 9th, 2021 as the Buccaneers gear up to play Washington.

With Brady officially leaving the NFL, it is important to understand his impact on the sport. Despite being doubted by countless scouts and teams, Brady never looked back and continued to perform at the highest level. Winning a single Super Bowl is difficult enough, but winning 7 of them as a sixth-round draft choice is unfathomable on paper. Ultimately, Brady’s story is one of resilience and inspiration. While others doubted him, Brady never doubted himself. Brady continued to overcome adversities and always remained true to himself and his goals, a quality that everyone can and should learn from the Greatest of All Time.