The greatest to ever do it has officially called it a career.
Tom Brady is retiring. The quarterback announced his decision via Instagram on Tuesday.
"I've done a lot of reflecting the past week and have asked myself difficult questions," Brady wrote in part of his lengthy message. "And I am so proud of what we have achieved. My teammates, coaches, fellow competitors, and fans deserve 100% of me, but right now, it's best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes.
"To my Bucs teammates the past two years, I love you guys, and I have loved going to battle with you. You have dug so deep to challenge yourself, and it inspired me to wake up every day and give you my best. I am always here for you guys and want to see you continue to push yourselves to be your best. I couldn't be happier with what we accomplished together."
Brady's official retirement comes three days after news first broke he was planning to hang up his legendary cleats. Brady had yet to publicly commit one way or another, spending his latest appearance on his podcast maintaining he was still "going through the process". Tuesday brought the result of that process.
Brady walks away after an incredible 22 NFL seasons -- 20 with New England, two with Tampa Bay -- in which he achieved individual success greater than anyone in pro football's history. Brady was a 15-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time AP MVP, three-time first-team All-Pro selection and retires as the all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns and QB wins.
The most resounding line in his resume: seven-time Super Bowl champion. Brady reached 10 Super Bowls in his career, getting there nine times with the Patriots before moving south at the ripe age of 43 and immediately leading the Buccaneers to their second Super Bowl triumph in franchise history.
Brady is the winningest quarterback in NFL history in both the regular season and playoffs, and has five Super Bowl MVPs to his name. We could keep doing this for a while.
"Tom Brady will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play in the NFL," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "An incredible competitor and leader, his stellar career is remarkable for its longevity but also for the sustained excellence he displayed year after year. Tom made everyone around him better and always seemed to rise to the occasion in the biggest moments. His record five Super Bowl MVP awards and seven Super Bowl championships set a standard that players will chase for years. He inspired fans in New England, Tampa and around the world with one of the greatest careers in NFL history. It has been a privilege to watch him compete and have him in the NFL. We thank him for his many contributions to our game and wish Tom and his family all the best in the future."
Brady's run was unprecedented in the modern era. A sixth-round pick -- 199th overall -- in the 2000 NFL Draft, Brady never arrived to the NFL with any serious buzz. Madden NFL 2001 didn't even insert his name for his video game avatar, just leaving him as "QB No. 12." Brady only received a legitimate chance to play because Drew Bledsoe suffered an injury during a game against the Jets in 2001.
From there, a legend was born.
Brady became the face of two decades of dominance for the Patriots, winning more playoff games with New England (30) than the rest of the Patriots in history had done combined. After reaching and losing the Super Bowl twice before Brady's arrival, New England made it nine times with Brady leading the way, winning six of them.
Even as Father Time loomed, Brady paid it no mind, turning a Super Bowl victory into an every-other-year event. Brady won Super Bowl XLIX in 2014, lost in the AFC Championship Game to old rival Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in 2015, then returned in 2016 to win Super Bowl LI. He lost Super Bowl LII in 2017, then responded by winning Super Bowl LIII in 2018. Two years later -- his first with Tampa Bay -- he won another one, his seventh and perhaps most impressive at 43 years old.
He was still playing at an elite level in 2021 and was in a tight race for NFL MVP at 44 years old. If he wins it, he'll have one last piece of hardware to add to his trophy case while he basks in the glow of retirement -- if he truly is finished with the game.