Brady retires ‘for good,’ ends 23-year NFL career
8: 21 AM ET
ESPN News Services
Tom Brady says he is retiring “for good” from football, ending a storied 23-year NFL career during which the star quarterback won seven Super Bowls and set numerous records.
Brady announced his decision Wednesday on social media, saying he “wouldn’t change a thing” about his career.
Brady, 45, also announced he was retiring on Feb. 1, 2022, before changing his mind 40 days later and returning to play this past season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I know the process was a pretty big deal last time, so when I woke up this morning, I figured I’d just press record and let you guys know first,” Brady said in a video on Twitter. “I won’t be long-winded. You only get one super emotional retirement essay, and I used mine up last year, so really thank you guys so much to every single one of you for supporting me.”
Brady informed the Buccaneers of his decision at 6 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington. The Buccaneers tweeted their appreciation to Brady later Wednesday, along with a #ThankYouTom caption.
#ThankYouTom 🙏🐐 pic.twitter.com/VTOYBpAk2R
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 1, 2023
The Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers, said in a statement that Brady “set an exceptional standard that elevated our entire organization to new heights and created some of the most iconic moments in our history.
“Tom’s impact will be felt within our community for many years to come and we will forever be grateful for those unforgettable memories that he provided during these final seasons of his legendary career,” the Glazer family said.
Brady, who won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and one with the Buccaneers, ends his career as the NFL’s leader in career passing yards (89,214) and touchdown passes (649). The three-time league MVP passed for 4,694 yards — third most in the NFL — and 25 touchdowns this past season, his third with Tampa Bay.
“I don’t ever believe in the 100-year-old history of the NFL there’s been a quarterback of Tom’s ilk,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft told ESPN’s Mike Reiss on Wednesday. “I don’t know, but I would have trouble ever believing there would be another one.”
Brady is the only player to win more than five Super Bowls and has been named Super Bowl MVP five times.
“My family, my friends, my teammates, my competitors — I could go on forever, there’s too many,” Brady said in the video. “Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream. I wouldn’t change a thing. Love you all.”
Brady can immediately begin working as an analyst for Fox Sports, which signed him to a 10-year, $375 million contract this past summer. He also launched a Brady brand clothing line one year ago, has a successful health and wellness brand called TB12 Sports and founded his own production company, 199 Productions.
Brady and supermodel Gisele Bundchen finalized their divorce this past fall, during the Bucs’ season. It ended a 13-year marriage between two superstars who respectively reached the pinnacles of football and fashion.
Famously underrated coming into the NFL — he was picked 199th in the 2000 draft by the Patriots, behind six other quarterbacks, three kickers and a punter — Brady played in one game as a rookie, completing one of three passes for 6 yards.
The next year, it all changed.
Brady took over as the starter, the Patriots beat the Rams in the Super Bowl that capped the 2001 season, and he and New England coach Bill Belichick were well on their way to becoming the most successful quarterback-coach duo in football history.
“You think about it — for all the young people out there who dream big dreams — things didn’t go his way at Michigan,” Kraft told Reiss. “He should have been the starter, but thank goodness he wasn’t, because that allowed us to get him late in the sixth round. He defied the odds. I think having that chip on his shoulder … truly one of a kind.”
More Super Bowl wins came after the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The Patriots returned to football’s mountaintop for a fourth time in Brady’s era a decade later to cap the 2014 season, the start of three more titles in a span of five years.
“I have a flashback,” Kraft told Reiss. “I think of him walking down the steps at the old Foxboro Stadium, looking like a skinny beanpole with a pizza under his arm — it’s late at night. He walks over to me and says, ‘Hi Mr. Kraft, I’m Tom Brady, your sixth-round draft pick.’ I said, ‘I know who you are.’ He looked me right in the eye and said, ‘And I’m the best decision your football team has ever made.’ You know, he was right.”
In 2020, Brady joined the Buccaneers and won his seventh Super Bowl. He spent his past three years with Tampa Bay, getting the Buccaneers to the playoffs in each of those seasons.
Former Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians told ESPN’s Jenna Laine that his fondest memory with Brady was “holding that Lombardi with him.”
“His imprint on this organization helped take us to the mountaintop,” Bucs GM Jason Licht said in a statement. “We will certainly miss him as our quarterback, but I will also miss him as a leader and friend. Our entire organization is indebted to him for what he provided us over the past three years. We won’t ever forget the wins or the accolades and his influence will be felt for years to come.”
ESPN’s Jenna Laine and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.