Tom Brady will go down as “the greatest of all time” and his achievements in the game will never be matched, says Sky Sports NFL presenter Neil Reynolds following the seven-time Super Bowl winner’s retirement from the NFL.
Brady officially announced his retirement after 22 seasons in the NFL, aged 44, on Tuesday, saying in a lengthy statement posted across his Instagram and Twitter accounts: “I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention.”
It marks the end of an extraordinary career in which he won more Super Bowls (seven) than any one team in NFL history, and played in 10 total. He was a five-time Super Bowl MVP, a three-time league MVP and was named to 15 Pro Bowls.
Reynolds, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “He will be remembered as the greatest of all time.
“That phrase, ‘The GOAT’, applies to Tom Brady, and not just in NFL terms. I think you can put him in with Lionel Messi, Muhammad Ali, iconic sports figures.
“If you ask anyone who casually watches the NFL, ‘do you know Tom Brady?’ Yes, they do – they know what he stands for and what he has achieved.
“We are never going to see his like again. With the NFL as wide open as it is, to play in 10 Super Bowls and win seven… it’s never going to happen again.”
Why the decision to retire now?
Confirmation of Brady’s decision follows confusion on Saturday night when multiple reports announcing Brady’s retirement received pushback from the player’s agent and father.
Brady’s company TB12sports initially posted news of his retirement online, tweeting ‘7 Super Bowl Rings, 5 Super Bowl MVPs, 3 League MVP Awards, 22 Incredible Seasons, Thank you for it all Tom Brady’, before later deleting the tweet, while the NFL announced his retirement along with tributes for the 44-year-old.
Reynolds is surprised Brady has chosen this year to call it a day, with the veteran quarterback having put in one of his best-ever statistical seasons, but believes it is down to a desire to spend more time with his family.
“It’s not a surprise, because we saw this story coming at the weekend – it was reported, it was broken,” Reynolds said. “But, to me, it’s a surprise that he’s retiring from the NFL this season .
“We’d be at Super Bowls two or three years ago and I’d ask the guys, ‘could this be his last game?’. He was 42, 43 and so every year it felt like it might be. But then I stopped asking it; he led the NFL this year with more than 5,000 passing yards and 43 touchdowns.
“He has already accomplished a lot. His wife Giselle wants to have the family time, he is getting that pull as well.
“An average NFL career is 3-4 years. A successful one will see you maybe play 10-11 years. Brady has played 22! That is two careers’ worth.
“And it takes over your life. He has talked about it all the time, it consumes him. That is why he has decided it’s now time for the family.
“And he is going out on top. Not as a Super Bowl champion this year, but in his last game against the [Los Angeles] Rams he was still firing on all cylinders – he went out kicking and screaming.”
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Brady’s greatest achievements?
Brad’s success in the NFL is all the more remarkable when you consider that he entered the league as a sixth-round draft choice in 200, taken with the 199th overall pick by the New England Patriots – with as many as six quarterbacks selected ahead of him.
“He is the ultimate underdog,” Reynolds said. “He could not have looked more unathletic when he entered the NFL. But he had it mentally, and he has just got better and better with age.”
As for the highlights from his two-decade long career, Reynolds picked out his comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI and his most recent victory in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a year ago.
“The game against Atlanta, to end the 2016 season, they were down 28-3 in the Super Bowl – they were done, finished, they’d lost – but he brought them back play after play and they won in overtime. That was his finest moment.
“I think he got better in the last five years. He had almost two careers; he won three Super Bowls early in his career – he had a good defense and was a young player still getting to grips with the game, learning and becoming better – but that period from 2014 to where we are now, the second half of Brady’s career, is where I’d say he was at his absolute best.
Reynolds added: “His greatest attribute was to hit ‘reset’ every year. He even said, ‘my favourite Super Bowl ring is the next one’.
“Human nature should make you complacent a little bit – ‘I’ve already got one, I’ve got two, I’m going to be happy’ – but he went to Tampa Bay at the end of his career, at 43 years of age, hit reset and on a new team – in the middle of a pandemic, so he couldn’t practice – and took that team, which had been pretty mediocre for a number of years, to another Super Bowl.
“That was the most amazing thing. It says everything about Brady.”
Who are the future of the NFL?
Brady’s Buccaneers were knocked out of the divisional round of this year’s playoffs, losing 30-27 to eventual Super Bowl finalists Los Angeles – and that’s despite Brady’s best efforts, leading the team back from a 27-3 deficit in the second half and almost pulling off a remarkable comeback.
As the NFL now prepares for a life without Brady, Reynolds believes the young crop of star quarterbacks emerging means the league is in safe hands, although adding that Brady’s feats will never be matched.
“The young players that have come through at his position, maybe inspired by him, are tremendous,” Reynolds said. “Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert. I actually think we’re about to embark on a bit of a golden age of quarterbacks with these young guys.
“Burrow, who is going to the Super Bowl with the Cincinnati Bengals, we were talking to his personal quarterback coach, Jordan Palmer, on Sunday night and he said he shows all the quarterbacks he trains videos of Brady. So he is still influencing everyone. If you talk legacy, he has got it any way you look.
“But those 10 Super Bowls that he has played in, who is going to match that? Someone like Mahomes would have to play until he was 40 and get there every other year for the rest of his career.
“He has already got there twice, and lost twice in the semi-finals – he is already finding out how hard it is to be Brady. We’re never going to see the like of Brady ever again.”
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