Curran: Brady's final retirement is a fitting end to long football journey originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
It has been the longest goodbye.
In a way, that’s natural. It was the longest career any non-kicker ever had. So as Tom Brady pressed on in an ultra-marathon of excellence and championships, retrospectives and appreciations co-mingled with speculation about "how much longer?"
Frankly, it got exhausting attempting to "put into context" a lifetime in the NFL beyond compare. Especially when the kid just kept adding to it and adding to it.
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.
For folks in New England, this is the third time we’ve been compelled to take stock of what the greatest player in NFL history personally meant.
Will Tom Brady end career as a Patriot after announcing retirement?
U.S. & World
The first was March 17, 2020, when Brady retired from the Patriots by saying "My football journey will take me elsewhere." That was a black armband, flags at half-mast kind of day.
The second was exactly a year ago when -- after a January 22 ESPN report declared Brady was stepping away (cue the retrospectives and appreciations) -- Brady released a statement that he was done (more retrospectives and appreciations). So add two more football wakes.
Now there’s today’s announcement. Brady, whose post-Patriots self-awareness dipped as he luxuriated in the tub of brand-advancement, marketing and celebrity, was still grounded enough to keep it simple.
Let the record show, Father Time took the L here. It was early September of 2014 when Brady said, "When I suck I’ll retire. But I don’t plan on sucking for a long time."
Before that month was out, the 37-year-old Brady and the Patriots were having dirt thrown on their grave after a blowout loss to Kansas City in prime time.
And from that night on, Brady went on an incomparable tear. From 2014 through 2022, Brady’s teams went 103-39 in the regular season. He threw for 40,065 yards with 290 touchdowns and 78 picks. He threw it 5,464 times, leading the NFL in completions and attempts each of the past two seasons. Last year, he led the league in attempts, completions, yards (5,316) and touchdown passes (43) at the age of 44.
In the playoffs, he literally played an additional three seasons -- 48 games -- in addition to 23 years in the league. His teams went 35-13 in the postseason and Brady threw for 13,400 yards, 88 touchdowns and 40 interceptions. His completion percentage was 62.47.
Amazingly, Brady played in HALF of his career playoff games from 2014 through 2022. Over the course of those 24 games, he won four more Super Bowls and five more conference championships. He authored the greatest comeback in championship game history in any sport -- the 28-3 comeback over the Falcons in 2016. He lugged the Patriots to a Super Bowl nobody saw them getting to in 2018 by walking through the chest of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Perry: Brady's retirement leaves several teams wondering 'What if?'
For comparison, Patrick Mahomes was 18 when Brady started his second rampage through the league. In 13 playoff games over five seasons, Mahomes’ Chiefs are 10-3, he’s thrown for 3,902 yards with 32 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s won one Super Bowl.
From the 2014 playoffs through this year, Brady went 17-5 with 45 touchdowns and 18 picks. In other words, Mahomes in his prime is about halfway to doing what Brady did from 2014 to 2022. Which would be impressive.
Then Mahomes would have to do it all again in the next decade. Then a GOAT conversation can be had.
Let’s put football aside for a moment because Brady the person has always been very important to people in New England. We’ve seen every single side of him as his adult life played out in front of us. We’ve seen him as a father and a son. We’ve seen him as a brother and an uncle.
We’ve held him up as a role model for our kids, an example of perseverance, self-belief, competitiveness, selflessness and affection. And when he acted like a dink, we’ve been able to explain that, sometimes even the best among us throw water bottles, whine, complain and scream.
We’ve seen him as a husband and now we’ve seen -- quite clearly through his 2022 weight loss -- the absolute trauma that the dissolution of his marriage caused him.
There’s no better evidence that it's lonely at the top than Brady’s spartan retirement video. A deserted beach on a cloudy day, sea grass waving in the background, huge seaside condos in the distance, the sound of ocean and wind.
He shot it himself. Just turned the phone around and spoke simply.
No bells, no whistles. No slogans. No overwrought efforts to drag out the drama, forcing empty emotional calories on everyone at the ill-advised suggestion of some marketing team or production company.
Just a guy who looks tired and bummed out with a lot on his mind. Understandably. It’s complicated. Brady belongs to America, but he somehow seems to have become a man without a country. Where’s home? Miami? Tampa? San Francisco? New York? Boston, where he literally experienced everything?
He’s seeing his kids approach their teens and his parents approach their 80s while he’s closing in on 50. He’s GOT everything. What does he now need?
Hopefully, he will figure that out. He most assuredly will. The moments of happiness, the emotional ebbs and flows that Tom Brady was quite literally responsible for in the lives of so many people he will never, ever meet. It has been … a lot.
And now he’ll seek his post-football peace.