The sports world is reacting to the news that Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. is retiring from the National Football League. Yes, Tom Brady is hanging up his cleats once and for all. This is all according to the report published on ESPN, and thanks to reporting by Jeff Darlington and Adam Schefter, Brady “has spent time digesting that mindset and is preparing his retirement announcement along with the next chapter of his life and career.”
The report also stated that Brady was aware that the Buccaneers would “likely to undergo significant roster turnover,” which would mean that the team would not be in the position to contend for another Super Bowl title any time soon.
This echos the thoughts of fellow future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers, who said that he too did not want to be a part of a rebuilding season next year. This makes sense, as the older quarterbacks, Rodgers and Brady, don’t have the playing time left in their careers to wait on a general manager to rebuild the team around them. Sometimes this takes 2-3 seasons.
Why now, Tom?
Many fans are asking why Brady chose to retire now? After all, he’s said that he could see himself playing until he’s 50 years old, and he’s just 44 now. It could be that thanks to this loss, he would have to start over in his quest to be the GOAT — or the Greatest Of All Time.
Unlike most fans and sportswriters, Brady doesn’t call himself the GOAT and may still consider Joe Montana, his boyhood idol, to be the greatest quarterback to ever play in the NFL. In 2020, Howard Stern asked Brady if he was better than Montana, and he refused.
“I can’t say that,” Brady told Stern in the interview. “I would never say that. That’s not how I think about myself. The only thing I care about is, am I the best I can be? I’m the best I can be.”
He did tell reporters more than once that Montana was who he looked up to as a youngster.
“I was at Joe’s last game at Candlestick Park,” Brady said when he met with the Tampa Bay area press for the first time as a Buc player. “I actually went up there and saw it with my friends, and I’ll never forget that. He was an incredible player — he and Steve Young were my quarterback idols growing up.”
Still, the praise and dodging the comparison has not stopped others from sizing Brady up against Montana. This includes 49ers beat writer Grant Cohn, who opined that Brady benefitted from the rule changes made after the 1980s, which were designed to protect quarterbacks.
“Montana took an absolute beating and injured his back as a result,” wrote Cohn when comparing Montana to Brady. “So he couldn’t play into his ’40s — no one could back then. Injuries caught up to players.”
Montana said on ESPN’ “First Take” that “if you look at what Tom’s been able to accomplish, in the time that he’s played, I think it puts him definitely up there at the the top of the list.”
Is Brady twice as good as Montana?
While the above stats prove Brady’s passing numbers surpassed Montana’s.
Before he won his first Super Bowl with the Buccaneers, Brady told fans that he still had more to prove. He then won his record-setting seventh championship, which was three more than his idol. Though he did win Super Bowl XL with the Bucs, this seventh could not erase the sting of losing two Super Bowls to the New York Giants — something that Montana never suffered. Joe Cool, as they called him, never lost a Super Bowl.
As many 49er fans will recall, Joe Montana’s real quest in the 1980s and 90s was to do something that no other quarterback and team had ever done — the three-peat. Unlike the undefeated season, which only the 1972 Dolphins can claim, the three-peat has never been done in the Super Bowl era.
Brady Doing Something Montana Could Not
The closest to doing this would be the Green Bay Packers, who won three straight titles twice from 1929, 1930, and 1931, and again in 1965, 1966, and 1967. The last two on the list are unique because they represent the higher level of competition after the AFL-NFL merger. Since then, in what is now known as the Super Bowl Era, no team has accomplished the feat.
In 1990, Montana and his 49ers were on the cusp of getting to their third straight Super Bowl, but the New York Giants beat them 15-13 in a field goal-heavy game.
Brady and the Patriots got to back-to-back Super Bowls after the 1998-1999 seasons. The Colts prevented Brady and company from attempting a three-peat in 2007. This season’s Buccaneers represented Brady’s best (and last) shot at getting to a second straight Super Bowl game, and then to attempt a third.
As Skip Bayless said on “Undisputed” on January 21, Brady would continue to play to win additional Super Bowls.
“What did he have to prove after he won five Super Bowls in New England?” Bayless asked co-host Shannon Sharpe. “He wanted to win six. And after six, he just wanted to win seven. And after seven, he wants to win eight. And when he gets to eight — you know, and I know — if he could have a shot at a three-peat, please, bring it on!”
To Be The Man
Like WWE great Ric Flair always says, in order to “be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.” And though Brady never said it publicly, his drive to win at the highest level likely had his sights set on the one accomplishment that Montana could not achieve, which was three Super Bowls in a row.
Like Rodgers, Brady does not want to sit through rebuilding, according to the reports. Because the Bucs lost to the Rams in the divisional round, if Brady got to a third straight Super Bowl, he’d be playing until he was 48 years old.