May 19, 2022

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Tom Brady retires: Buccaneers QB bows out of NFL after 22-year career

Tom Brady is riding off into the sunset after 22 years in the NFL.

The Buccaneers quarterback announced his retirement Tuesday via social media, ending days of speculation about his future. 

ESPN had reported Saturday that Brady would retire, but the quarterback’s family and representatives pushed back, saying he had not yet made a decision. 

Brady addressed the reports Monday on a podcast appearance and said he was “still going through the process” of making a decision before announcing that decision some 14 hours later. 

“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, and success is what I love so much about our game,” Brady wrote in a lengthy Instagram post. 

“There is a physical, mental and emotional challenge EVERY single day that has allowed me to maximize my highest potential. And I have tried my very best these past 22 years. There are no shortcuts to success on the field or in life.

“This is difficult for me to write, but here it goes: I am not going to make that competitive commitment anymore. I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention.

“I’ve done a lot of reflecting the past week and have asked myself difficult questions. 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.” 

MORE: Will Rob Gronkowski retire?

Sporting News is tracking the latest reports on Brady’s retirement.

Is Tom Brady retiring?

Feb. 1

9:35 a.m.: Brady announced his retirement via an Instagram post, writing in part: “I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention.”

Jan. 31

7:24 p.m.: Appearing on the “Let’s Go!” podcast with Jim Gray, Brady remained noncommittal about his future. He reaffirmed it’s a day-to-day decision and that a lot of people are impacted by a decision, so he will make one in the future, but didn’t lay out a specific timeline or what that decision may be.

“We’re in such an era of information and people want to be in front of the news often,” Brady said. “I totally understand that. I understand that’s the environment we’re in. I think for me, it’s just literally day to day with me.””I’m still going through the process. … When the time is right, I’ll be ready to make a decision.”

On reports of his retirement: “I’m responsible for what I say or do and not for what others say or do.”

“I was trying to enjoy a nice weekend,” Brady said. “It didn’t turn out that way.”

Jan. 29

5:28 p.m.: Despite several reports emerging questioning whether Brady has made his decision to retire, ESPN has said it is standing by its report, according to The New York Times’ Kevin Draper.

5:18 p.m.: NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said he believes Brady’s plan is still to retire, but that the issue regarding the earlier report on his status has more to do with timing.

“Brady is very in charge, in control of his brand,” Rapoport said. “He generally has fantastically well produced announcements. He is producing a show on ESPN+ about his entire career that has not yet filmed the final episode. I wonder what will be in that episode, that will be interesting as well. But this is not all buttoned up yet. But my understanding is the plan is in fact for Tom Brady to retire.”

4:51 p.m.: Brady Sr. is now telling NFL Network’s Mike Giardi that his son has not made a decision and that anyone who says otherwise is “absolutely wrong.”

4:41 p.m.: ESPN’s Buccaneers reporter Jenna Laine reported that Arians said Brady is “not even close” to making a decision on retirement. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe also reported that Brady called the team Saturday afternoon to say he is not close on deciding about his future.

4:21 p.m.: KRON4’s Kylen Mills reported that the quarterback’s father, Tom Brady Sr., told the Bay Area-based news station that Brady is not, in fact, retiring. Brady Sr. reportedly said that an online publication began to circulate the rumors, and that now NFL insiders have begun to pick it up.

4:00 p.m.: Michael Silver reported that Brady spoke with Tampa Bay’s general manager Jason Licht to say that he has not made up his mind if he is going to retire. Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud later confirmed Silver’s reporting that the call between QB and GM took place.

3:40 p.m.: According to NBC Sports’ Boston’s Tom Curran, Brady is currently overseas and even if he does decide to retire, a decision has not been finalized.

3:39 p.m.: MMQB’s Albert Breer reported that Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said he has not heard about Brady’s decision to retire, and said others have said they did not know news of this decision was coming.

3:30 p.m.: Brady’s agent, Don Yee, issued a statement to Schefter that neither confirmed nor denied the report that he is retiring, but said that Brady “will be the only person to express his plans with complete accuracy.”

“He knows the realities of the football business and planning calendar as well as anybody, so that should be soon,” Yee said in the statement.

2:30 p.m.: According to ESPN, Brady’s career is over. 

Brady made his decision based on family and health, per ESPN’s report, while also taking into account that the Buccaneers are likely to have roster turnover in 2022. The ESPN article noted Brady has not wanted a “farewell season,” with several close to him saying he did not want much drama leading up to the decision.

Over the last several weeks of the 2021 campaign, there were rumors circulating that Brady was playing his final season in the NFL, with ESPN reporting that the Buccaneers had been bracing for life after Brady. In Darlington and Schefter’s report, Tampa Bay was said to have hoped to make a pitch to keep Brady on board for one more season.

MORE: NFL reacts to news Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is retiring

What has Tom Brady said about his decision to retire?

Before the announcement, Brady said his family would play a larger role in determining his future in the NFL, saying after his team’s loss to the Rams in the NFC divisional round that he felt like he could leave the game “proud and satisfied.”

“Playing football, I get so much joy from and I love it. But not playing football, there’s a lot of joy for that with me too, now,” Brady said on his “Let’s Go!” podcast with Larry Fitzgerald and Jim Gray. “As I’ve gotten older, the best part is, football is extremely important in my life, and it means a lot to me. And I care a lot about what we’re trying to accomplish as a team, and I care a lot about my teammates.

“The difference now that I’m older is I have kids now, too, and I care about them a lot as well.”

On the podcast, Brady said that winning games no longer feels as good as it used to, and said that winning felt more like a relief while defeats stung even more.

“I’m proud and satisfied of everything we accomplished this year,” Brady said. “I know when I give it my all, that’s something to be proud of. And I’ve literally given it everything I’ve had this year, last year and the year before that. I don’t leave anything half-assed.”

MORE: Will Aaron Rodgers return, request trade or retire?

Looking back at Tom Brady’s NFL career

Brady began his professional career as the ultimate underdog story after being drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. He sat behind Drew Bledsoe in his first season in New England before taking over as the starter in 2001. He led the Patriots to a Super Bowl win that year against the Rams, and he never looked back as the team’s starter.

He went on to win back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004, and he claimed his first NFL MVP award in 2007, when he led the Patriots to an undefeated regular season and a Super Bowl berth. That year, he threw for 4,806 yards with a career-high 50 touchdowns.

Brady won his second MVP in 2010 and his third in 2017. In 2016, he led the Patriots to an improbable Super Bowl comeback from down 28-3 in the third quarter to a 34-28 overtime win against the Falcons. Brady reached two more Super Bowls with the Patriots after that victory, losing to the Eagles before defeating the Rams to claim his final ring in New England.

After the 2019 season, Brady left the Patriots to join the Buccaneers, winning a Super Bowl in his first year in Tampa Bay and pushing his NFL record to seven Super Bowl rings. Though the Buccaneers fell short of back-to-back titles in 2021, he still finished with a career-best 5,316 passing yards and led the league both in passing yardage and passing touchdowns (43) at the age of 44.