"I just wanted to say to all of our fans, THANK YOU!" Brady penned. "After a few days of reflection, I am so grateful and humbled by the unconditional support you have shown me the past two decades. Running out of that tunnel every week is a feeling that is hard to explain. I wish every season ended in a win, but that's not the nature of sports (or life). Nobody plays to lose. But the reward for working hard is just that, the work!! I have been blessed to find a career I love, teammates who go to battle with me, an organization that believes in me, and fans who have been behind us every step of the way.
"Every one of us that works at Gillette Stadium strived to do their best, spent themselves at a worthy cause, and prepared to fail while daring greatly (h/t Teddy Roosevelt). And for that, we've been rewarded with something that the scoreboard won't show -- the satisfaction of knowing we gave everything to each other in pursuit of a common goal. That is what TEAM is all about."
Then Brady went from channeling his inner Bo Schembechler to auditioning for a role in Gladiator.
"In both life and football, failure is inevitable," he wrote. "You don't always win. You can, however, learn from that failure, pick yourself up with great enthusiasm, and place yourself in the arena again. And that's right where you will find me. Because I know I still have more to prove."
It seems humorous on the outside to think that the greatest quarterback of all time has much left to prove. Oh, is six Super Bowl rings not good enough, Tom?
In reality, we've known this maniacal, driven Brady for a long time. He's shown time and time again he'll use any slight as motivation, take a potato chip crumb, and turn it into an entire bag just to place it on his own shoulder. The way his season ended, with an offense that never found its footing and questions about whether the 42-year-old could still lift a team, provided TB12 plenty of juice to get him through another offseason.
Brady will return in 2020, that much is clear.
Now the question that will engulf the sport for the next several months is where the soon-to-be free agent will play.