Buccaneers QB Tom Brady ends speculation, retires from NFL

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady retires as the most-decorated player in NFL history. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Feb. 1 (UPI) —¬†Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady ended speculation about his NFL future with a retirement announcement Tuesday morning on social media, thanking fans, teammates, coaches and his family for their support.

Reports emerged last week about the expected decision, but Brady, his agent and team said that he had not yet made a final decision to end his decorated football tenure.

“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 on Instagram and Twitter.

“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.”

Brady, who spent his first 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, did not mention his former team, the city of Boston, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, or Patriots coach Bill Belichick in his farewell message.

The 44-year-old quarterback led the NFL with 5,416 passing yards and 43 touchdowns this season for the Buccaneers. He holds career records for completions, attempts, passing yards, passing touchdowns, playoff games started, regular-season game appearances and Super Bowl titles.

The sixth-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft by the Patriots retires as arguably the greatest player in NFL history.

“Tom arrived in Tampa Bay with an unprecedented level of expectations and delivered some of the most memorable moments in our franchise history,” the Glazer family, who own the Buccaneers, said in a statement Tuesday morning. “His impact on our team and community was immediate and profound.

“Tom’s remarkable NFL journey has come to an end, but we will 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. Saying goodbye to a legend is never easy, but we wish him continued success in retirement.”

Brady, who joined the Buccaneers in 2020, was signed through the 2022 season. Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said he wished Brady’s tenure “didn’t have to end” and expressed “appreciation and respect” for what the NFL legend did for the NFC South franchise.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also thanked Brady for his contributions to the league over his elite run.

“Tom Brady will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play in the NFL,” 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.”

The future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee’s Instagram post received more than 1.25 million “likes” 45 minutes after it was published. Several professional athletes and celebrities commented on the post.

“The Great one,” Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu wrote in one comment. “What a career man! Now onto bigger and better things! You’ll forever be remembered as the standard! Loved going to battle against you! Enjoy the family and time off! It’s been a long 22 years for you! Grateful to play against the best ever!”

“I am going to take it day by day,” Brady wrote Tuesday. “I know for sure I want to spend a lot of time giving to others and trying to enrich other people’s lives, just as so many have done for me.”

Brady will become eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2027. He is expected to be a first-ballot entry.

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