Tom Brady’s career timeline: A look back at NFL legend’s legacy as he retires

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Tom Brady decided Tuesday it was time to retire.

In a lengthy Twitter statement, Brady said the time was now to finally make his decision.

“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,” he said. “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.

TOM BRADY MAKES IT OFFICIAL, RETIRES FROM NFL AFTER 22 YEARS

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

Here’s a look back on his unprecedented career.

SOLID MICHIGAN CAREER

Michigan QB Tom Brady in action against Wisconsin.

Michigan QB Tom Brady in action against Wisconsin. (John Biever/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

Brady wasn’t exactly the most dynamic player in college. He played for the Michigan Wolverines four years but didn’t get too much playing time until his junior season. He finished his career at Michigan with 4,773 passing yards, 30 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions. He led the team to a Citrus Bowl win in 1998 and an overtime Orange Bowl victory in 1999.

BRADY DRAFTED

Michigan QB Tom Brady in action vs Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

Michigan QB Tom Brady in action vs Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. (Peter Read Miller/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

Brady wasn’t a highly touted pro prospect. And he fell down draft boards due to his NFL Scouting Combine performance, though he was labeled as a player with a top-notch work ethic.

New England selected him in the sixth round of the 2000 draft with the No. 199 pick. 

Brady was also the seventh quarterback taken in that draft behind Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger and Spergon Wynn. Carmazzi never appeared in an NFL game.

2000 PATRIOTS

Tom Brady getting pregame advice from Drew Bledsoe at the RCA Dome. 

Tom Brady getting pregame advice from Drew Bledsoe at the RCA Dome.  (Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Brady made the final cut for the Patriots in 2000. According to the book “Patriot Reign,” the Patriots decided to pick Brady over Tim Rattay. Brady entered his rookie season as the fourth-string QB behind Drew Bledsoe, John Friesz and Michael Bishop.

Brady only had one completion that season in the lone game he appeared in. As the Detroit Lions were blowing out the Patriots, Brady was put into the game and threw his lone pass to Rod Rutledge for six yards. 

BRADY FOR BLEDSOE

Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe is attended to by team doctor Bert Zarins after being hit in the fourth quarter.

Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe is attended to by team doctor Bert Zarins after being hit in the fourth quarter. (Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Week 2 of the 2001 NFL season changed everything. Bledsoe was knocked out of a game against the New York Jets by linebacker Mo Lewis with a hit that Bledsoe would later reveal could have killed him.

Brady was thrust into the game. While the Patriots lost to the Jets 10-3 after Bledsoe went down, New England closed out the season on a six-game winning streak. The Patriots would ride the momentum into the playoffs and into the Super Bowl, where they defeated the St. Louis Rams on an Adam Vinatieri game-winning field goal.

It was Brady’s first ring and the start of his great career and a New England dynasty. 

THE TUCK RULE

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady takes a hit from Charles Woodson of the Oakland Raiders on a pass attempt in the last two minutes of a game in the AFC playoffs Jan. 19, 2002, in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady takes a hit from Charles Woodson of the Oakland Raiders on a pass attempt in the last two minutes of a game in the AFC playoffs Jan. 19, 2002, in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Matt Campbell/AFP via Getty Images)

What may get lost from Brady’s first Super Bowl run is the dramatic Tuck Rule game that eventually saw the Patriots beat the Oakland Raiders in the AFC divisional-round playoff game.

Late in the fourth quarter of that game, with snow falling, Charles Woodson appeared to force Brady to fumble the football, which was recovered by the Raiders. The officials overturned the call on the field, saying Brady was trying to “tuck” the ball back into his body and that it was an incomplete pass under NFL rules at the time. Brady led the Patriots down the field to tie the game, and the Pats won in overtime.

The game-altering call would help continue to bolster the Patriots’ momentum.

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3 OUT OF 4 AIN’T BAD

The New England dynasty was firmly intact following the 2004 season. Brady and the Patriots slayed the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2005 Super Bowl 24-21 to secure their third title in four seasons.

Brady won his second Super Bowl MVP award and earned his second Pro Bowl selection. He had yet to be named a league MVP, finishing as high as third in the voting after the 2003 season. 

Brady and the Patriots were quickly building one of the most fearsome dynasties the NFL had seen.

18 AND 1 GIANT LOSS

Tom Brady is sacked by the New York Giants Michael Strahan during the 2008 Super Bowl at Phoenix Stadium.

Tom Brady is sacked by the New York Giants Michael Strahan during the 2008 Super Bowl at Phoenix Stadium. (Bob Leverone/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Up until the 2007 season, Brady didn’t have a dynamic Hall of Fame-quality wide receiver — or tight end. Deion Branch and Troy Brown were solid receivers. Brown had 1,000 yards receiving in Brady’s first season, but no one hit the mark until the team acquired Randy Moss.

Brady and Moss put together a season for the ages in 2007, and New England finished 16-0, becoming only the second team in NFL history to finish a regular season with an undefeated mark. Brady set the single-season mark for passing touchdowns with 50, and Moss broke the record for most receiving touchdowns in a season with 23, a record that still stands. Brady earned his first MVP award and his first Offensive Player of the Year selection.

New England rolled into the playoffs but met what would become its kryptonite — a scrappy New York Giants team led by Eli Manning and a pulse-pounding defense. Manning’s unforgettable pass to David Tyree and the subsequent Plaxico Burress touchdown pass finished one of the greatest Super Bowl upsets of all time.

Brady and Moss went home unhappy, but things would get worse for the quarterback.

GONE IN LESS THAN 60 MINUTES

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady grimaces as he grabs his left knee after injuring it during a season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium. 

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady grimaces as he grabs his left knee after injuring it during a season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium.  (Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Following the upset in the Super Bowl, Brady and the Patriots entered Week 1 of the 2008 season hungrier than ever, but the Patriots were delivered a huge blow.

Brady dropped back to pass in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs and was hit low. He remained on the field, grabbing his left knee after a hit from Bernard Pollard. The hit cost Brady his entire 2008 season and changed the NFL as everyone knew it.

After the 2009 season, the NFL cracked down on dangerous hits to quarterbacks. The NFL Competition Committee clarified its rules and prohibited a defender who wasn’t blocked or fouled from hitting a quarterback at the legs.

“I think all the quarterbacks in this league are critical to what the game is about,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said at the time. “It’s like if Peyton Manning were gone for a season. I think the whole NFL suffers, the same way the NFL suffered with Tommy out. So whatever we can do to protect quarterbacks and to minimize the opportunity of them being taken out with a year-ending injury I would support.

“It’s not good for the league. What makes it special is special players. It’s like going to see a great movie and the star isn’t in the movie. It’s the same principle.”

Without Brady, the Patriots missed the playoffs that season. Brady returned healthy in 2009, capturing the Comeback Player of the Year award with 28 touchdown passes and 4,398 passing yards.

SUPER BOWL DROUGHT AND RESURGENCE

It would be a while, though, before Brady and the Patriots won another Super Bowl. Brady led the Patriots to a Super Bowl appearance during the 2011 season, but they ran into the Giants again. Manning and the defense somehow did it again and pulled off a Giant upset.

Brady would later admit those Giants losses in the Super Bowls were tough to swallow. 

The first buzz about Brady potentially being washed up and looking to retire started when he turned 37 during the 2014 season. Already a Hall of Famer at that point, there wasn’t much more for Brady to accomplish. He was still two rings away from tying Joe Montana, and it didn’t seem like he could do much more to elevate the Patriots.

Well, everybody was wrong.

At age 37, Brady — with the help of Rob Gronkowski — defeated the Seattle Seahawks in the 2015 Super Bowl. Malcolm Butler famously picked off Russell Wilson in the end zone, giving the Patriots and Brady another trophy. Brady tossed four touchdown passes in the game.

DEFLATEGATE

One of the few stains on Brady’s career was his alleged role in the Patriots’ Deflategate scandal. Team personnel were allegedly instructed by Brady to deflate footballs. The allegations surfaced after the 2014 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.

An investigation resulted in a four-game suspension for Brady for the 2016 season, a punishment upheld by a federal court. The Patriots went 3-1 in Brady’s absence, but it gave the Patriots a glimpse into what their future could be — possibly with Jimmy Garoppolo or Jacoby Brissett as their starting quarterback.

KEEPING IT ROLLING

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots raises the Vince Lombardi trophy after the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime of Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium Feb. 5, 2017 in Houston.

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots raises the Vince Lombardi trophy after the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime of Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium Feb. 5, 2017 in Houston. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Suggestions that Brady was washed up were clearly wrong.

He led New England to three consecutive Super Bowls from 2016 to 2018, winning two of them and falling a hair short to the Philadelphia Eagles in February 2018. In the other two title games, he led the Patriots on one of the greatest comebacks of all time against the Atlanta Falcons and got his defense to step up against the Los Angeles Rams. The win over the Rams in 2019 was the last Super Bowl title and appearance for the Patriots.

BRADY AND BELICHICK’S FINAL DANCE

With reports suggesting a rift between the two legendary NFL figures, the 2019 season appeared to be the final season together for Brady and Belichick. Ultimately, it was. 

Brady led the Patriots to the playoffs again. The team drew a wild-card game and lost to the Tennessee Titans. Brady’s last memory as a Patriots player was a pick-six by Titans defensive back Logan Ryan.

Two months later, Brady walked away from the Patriots with six rings and an impeccable resume.

MOVE OVER MONTANA

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady hoists the Vince Lombardi trophy after Super Bowl 55 against the Kansas City Chiefs Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Florida. Tampa Bay won 31-9.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady hoists the Vince Lombardi trophy after Super Bowl 55 against the Kansas City Chiefs Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Florida. Tampa Bay won 31-9. (Ben Liebenberg via AP)

Brady followed in the footsteps of legendary quarterbacks Montana and Peyton Manning late in their careers. 

Montana built a lasting legacy with the San Francisco 49ers before showing he wasn’t finished and played another few seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. Unlike Montana, Brady won a Super Bowl with a second franchise, joining Peyton Manning as the only NFL quarterbacks to do so. 

Brady shocked the NFL when he chose to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But he already had great wide receivers in place with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Brady eventually brought Gronkowski with him and later Antonio Brown.

In the 2020 season, Brady showed he still had it with another Super Bowl run. Brady picked up his seventh and final ring.

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2021 & 2022

Brady returned for one more season with the Bucs and started on his path for an eighth title. He helped Tampa Bay win the NFC South title and put up ridiculous numbers along the way.

He recorded 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdown passes. It was the most passing yards he’s ever thrown in a season and only the third time he hit 40 or more touchdown passes. All at age 44.

ESPN first reported that Brady would retire following the 2021 season.

Aside from Canton, Brady’s path is unclear. 

From No. 199 to No. 1, Brady will leave the NFL the clear and undisputed GOAT.

Fedrick Frost

Fedrick Frost

News Reporter for Morning Bullets, Writes on Politics, Economy, Business & More. Intrested in sharing news With Fredrick? Click Here

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