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Tom Brady announces his retirement from the NFL

Tom Brady, pictured in December 2021, is retiring from the NFL after a remarkable 22-season career.
Todd Kirkland
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Getty Images
Tom Brady, pictured in December 2021, is retiring from the NFL after a remarkable 22-season career.

Updated February 1, 2022 at 12:34 PM ET

Tom Brady has made it official: He's retiring from the NFL.

"I have always believed the sport of football is an 'all-in' proposition — if a 100% competitive commitment isn't there, you won't succeed," he wrote on his social media accounts.

But, Brady said, he will no longer be making that commitment. "I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention."

His decision brings an end to a 22-year career for the quarterback widely celebrated as the "GOAT" — the greatest of all time. A hero to legions of fans across New England, where he spent 20 seasons with the Patriots before signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, Brady's team was always a safe bet to win.

The announcement follows initial reports over the weekend, first from ESPN, that Brady was retiring, followed by congratulatory tweets from Brady's company and the NFL. Brady's agent, however, would not confirm the news, leading to confusion over his plans that continued to swirl until his actual announcement on Tuesday.

But his retirement was not unexpected: At 44, Brady was the oldest current player in the NFL this past season. He's cited a desire to spend more time with his wife, Gisele Bündchen, and his three children.

In his announcement, Brady said his plans for the future are a "work-in-progress," but noted he would continue to work with companies he co-founded, including the NFT platform Autograph, clothing company Brady Brand and the fitness and health company TB12 Sports.

Brady the GOAT

Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick celebrate after Brady's first Super Bowl win, in February 2002. Brady and Belichick would win six Super Bowls together.
Jeff Haynes / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick celebrate after Brady's first Super Bowl win, in February 2002. Brady and Belichick would win six Super Bowls together.

Brady's career was a list of records: most Super Bowl appearances (10), most Super Bowl wins (7), most touchdown passes in league history (624), most passing yards (84,520), most playoff wins (35), most regular season wins (243) — the list goes on.

His accomplishments came despite the fact that his NFL prospects didn't seem particularly strong coming out of his college football career at the University of Michigan. Brady was picked in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft after 198 players were chosen before him.

But in New England Brady would connect with coach Bill Belichick. And when Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured in Week 2 of the 2001 season, Brady replaced him as starter and would end up taking the Patriots to the first of his six Super Bowl wins with the team. With Brady at the helm, the Patriots won again in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Though it would be another decade before the team reached another Super Bowl win, Brady regularly led the Patriots to the playoffs, only missing them in the 2002 season and in the 2008 season when he tore his ACL. Between 2011 and 2018, Brady led the Patriots to eight straight conference championship games. They won Super Bowls in the 2014, 2016 and 2018 seasons.

"We were sort of Loserville" in New England before Brady arrived, said Dan Shaughnessy, a Boston Globe sports columnist who covered Brady for two decades. Brady and the Patriots "took the league by storm and we finally had a champion here. And that kind of ushered in the high renaissance of New England sports."

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said on Tuesday that words could not "adequately express the gratitude my family, the New England Patriots and our fans have for Tom for all he did during his career. A generation of football fans have grown up knowing only an NFL in which Tom Brady dominated."

Brady led a comeback with the Bucs in the final game of his career on Jan. 23, but the team ultimately lost to Los Angeles.
Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Brady led a comeback with the Bucs in the final game of his career on Jan. 23, but the team ultimately lost to Los Angeles.

Leaving New England

In March 2020, Brady announced that he wouldn't re-sign with the Patriots. Three days later, he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

With Brady under center, the Bucs secured their second Super Bowl victory in franchise history in February 2021, where he set a new record at age 43 as the oldest player to play in a Super Bowl. He was named Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time in his career.

His final game came on Jan. 23 in a divisional playoff matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams started the game out strong, taking a 27-3 lead. The Buccaneers slowly chipped away, tying the game 27-27 with less than a minute to play. For a moment, it appeared Brady was on route to win his 43rd fourth quarter comeback, but Los Angeles kicked a field goal to win the game as time expired.

In his announcement, Brady thanked the Bucs' owners, coaches, staff, players and fans, as well as players and coaches from earlier in his career.

"The competition was fierce and deep, JUST HOW WE LIKE IT. But the friendships and relationships are just as fierce and deep. I will remember and cherish these memories and re-visit them often. I feel like the luckiest person in the world," he wrote.

The family of Malcolm Glazer, who purchased the Bucs in 1995, said they would "continue to celebrate his legendary career as the greatest quarterback of all time and are appreciative and grateful for the time he spent as a Buccaneer."

As Brady leaves the game, a new generation of up-and-coming quarterbacks — such as 26-year-old Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and 25-year-old Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills — are poised to battle for the mantle of best quarterback in the NFL.

But as fans and foes alike are surely aware, many of Brady's achievements are likely to stand unbested forever.

Tovia Smith contributed reporting.

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