- Conflicting reports about whether or not Tom Brady is set to retire from the NFL have surfaced.
- It makes complete sense when thinking about the New York Jets fans’ frustrating plight for the last two decades.
- Whether he retires or not, is Brady the undisputed GOAT? It may be a bit more complicated than people think.
Tom Brady is finally retiring from the NFL … maybe?
No, you excitable and pessimistic (yet so lovable) New York Jets fans … you’re not dreaming. The man who unmercifully tortured you for two decades is set to call it a career.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is set to retire after 22 seasons in the NFL, per various reports, including CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora and ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington.
Tom Brady is retiring from football after 22 extraordinary seasons, multiple sources tell @JeffDarlington and me.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 29, 2022
Then again, nothing involving Brady and Jets fans is that cut and dry. The day Jets fans have been dreaming about for two decades was put to an abrupt end thanks to another report that followed the bombshell retirement news.
Per NFL insider Mike Silver, Brady has not yet made up his mind about retirement, and he informed Bucs general manager Jason Licht that he remains on the fence.
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) January 29, 2022
Just when Giselle thought he had her man out, those competitive demons pull him back in.
Maybe. Perhaps. Only time will tell.
Brady, 44, nearly did it again, last week, when he nearly stunned the Los Angeles Rams—a team that pounced all over his Bucs in the divisional round. In the end, Sean McVay’s squad defeated Brady’s back-to-back bid, courtesy of a game-winning walk-off field goal (30-27 final score).
After the loss, Brady took to Instagram while neither committing to a third season in Tampa nor a retirement.
View this post on Instagram
“I understand that at this stage in my career, there is going to be interest in my future whenever a season ends, but this week, all that is on my mind is the gratitude I have for this team and the fans that have supported us all year long,” Brady wrote. “This year has been incredibly rewarding personally and professionally and I am appreciative of everyone who worked their ass off to help our team achieve so much.
“I always want to win, I think that’s pretty apparent by now, but that doesn’t mean I equate losing to failure, especially when you go out fighting the way we did.. There’s so much to appreciate in a season like this when you’re surrounded by a team that believes in each other, and plays for the people standing on either side of them. I’ll spare you the Man in the Arena quote, but that feeling is something that I promise I’ll never take for granted. To everyone that was a part of it this year, thank you. I love you all!”
Much of the language surrounding Brady’s retirement focuses on the Michigan product spending more time with his family. He once proclaimed that he’d like to play until he was 45 years old, and the New England Patriots legend nearly accomplished that feat—as he’ll turn 45 on Aug. 3, 2022, the same date Zach Wilson also celebrates his birthday.
Brady threw for a career-best 5,316 yards and 43 touchdowns to 12 interceptions in 17 games this past season for the 13-4 Bucs.
AFC East dominance
Although Jets fans received a reprieve over the last two years, it wasn’t this way for the better part of the previous two decades.
Brady and Bill Belichick captured an incredible 17 divisional crowns from 2001 to 2019. The 2002 season—the year Herm Edwards implored his team to “play to win the game”—serves as the only Brady-led Pats season that didn’t result in an AFC East crown or a playoff appearance.
The 2000 and 2008 seasons represent the only other campaigns that New England did not come away with the divisional crown. In 2000, Brady had not yet taken over from Drew Bledsoe, and the 2008 season marks the only year Brady did not play at least 12 games (season-ending knee injury that paved the way for backup Matt Cassel).
Since Brady took over as the starting quarterback, the Patriots won 17 AFC East crowns while the Jets and Dolphins took home one apiece (19 total seasons, including the Cassell year). The Buffalo Bills, who found themselves shut out during the Brady era, have caught up over the last two campaigns.
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Is Tom Brady the true GOAT?
If social media is to be believed, there are “GOATs” and “dads” floating around professional sports everywhere. With a remarkable seven Super Bowl rings, 84,520 passing yards and 624 passing touchdowns—all of which rank first all-time—the widespread belief is that Brady is the undoubted greatest player in NFL history.
While there’s nothing wrong with that claim, to me, it’s not that simple.
In my camp, any one of the three following players can be labeled as the greatest quarterback in NFL history:
- Tom Brady
- Joe Montana
- Johnny Unitas
Although Brady played in the salary cap era—something that should be considered a detriment—everything else was easier for him.
He entered the league at the perfect time, just prior to the offensive explosion (post-2007) that coincided with his near-perfect 2007 Patriots team. When tracking the yards and points scored per game, the clear difference between Brady’s era and Johnny Unitas’s or even Joe Montana’s is evident.
In 1957, Unitas’s first big season, the NFL average for passing yards per game was a paltry 153.4. In 2021, that number finished at 240.2, which is even a far cry from the modest 200.3 passing yards per game in 2003—the era when Brady was far from a statistical monster.
Not only have the rules made things easier for the quarterback by way of moving the football, but the NFL did everything in its power to make sure defenses cannot touch the quarterback, as well. While Unitas and Montana had to actually deal with incredible nastiness, Brady would often intentionally fall to the ground when an apparent sack showed face.
In the end, mainly thanks to the incredible seven Super Bowl rings and 10 Super Bowl appearances (the next closest is Montana with four titles), Brady will be considered the greatest of all time, and understandably so.
Truthfully, at this point, New York Jets fans could probably not care less whether or not Brady gets the universal GOAT status. The first step was to celebrate his AFC East exit, which happened. And now, suddenly, the euphoria that surrounds an actual Tom Brady retirement is something that’s been 22 years in the making.
If the reports are true, highlighting the idea that Tom Brady is ready to call it an official career, New York Jets fans (and much of the rest of the NFL competition) should be as giddy as ever.
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