When I heard the news the first time…when it was leaked that Tom Brady was going to retire, I immediately messaged my friend and told him I didn’t believe it. Brady had just finished his 22nd season and was, again, a top player in a vicious, physical, league. At 44 years old, father time was still being held at bay with this guy. It was wonderful to see. When the rumor proved incorrect (for a brief moment) I was stoked. Like most, I loved watching Tom play. I hoped for more time.
Some days went by…and Tom Brady then officially retired from football. Heartbroken! The man who was more myth than man finally walking away…it wasn’t time yet. He still had more records to set, another Super Bowl to chase and win (maybe two), and another opportunity to show that the greats the media liked weren’t him…would never be him. Rothlisberger, Luck, Rodgers, Manning 1, Manning 2, Mahomes, Prescott, Brees, Warner, McNabb, Rivers, and whomever you’d like to throw out there, have all taken an “L” to the king. Even the guys that nipped him, Eli Manning and Nick Foles, have taken loses to the myth and pale in comparison to the statistics and accomplishments. They’re more aberrations than anything else. Mistakes in the matrix.
With stats, wins, and championships all unparalleled, Brady leaves the best to ever do it. Those that pick Montana are just being contrarians and assholes. “We all can’t write, or say that he’s the best to play, then no one will click MY headline.” One of the many problems with today…can’t say what’s true because no one wants to read that vanilla headline. Chris Simms has made his entire career on this concept. Say wild stuff and people will click. Brady never let the media control the narrative, as they want to do. The man focused relentlessly on football and nothing else while saying all the right things. Damn, there should be another year or two.
With Brady exiting, he takes with him what I long for most, and that is hope. The best thing about a Tom Brady game is that no matter what happened, the man would have the ball in the fourth quarter and would do something cool. Even this final year, with Antonio Brown losing his mind and quitting, and his options at receiver dwindling due to injury, when the game was on the line and the Bucs were down big…it was Tom to bring them back. He has the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. Even if you didn’t like the Patriots, or the Buccaneers, you knew if Tom had the ball, the win wasn’t just possible, but probable. Probable!
So, with that news, it feels like there is another moment showing that father time is catching up with me too. As when another celebrity dies, or something you used to excel at is now a memory, Brady retiring leave me with a sense that the Reaper is around the corner. It’s not rational, just a melancholy vibe that all that is great in this world eventually turns to gray. I needed Tom to outlast Covid. I needed Tom to outlast masking my kids. I needed Tom to outlast this awful administration. I also know it’s not fair to him. Couldn’t imagine what his life is like and all the pounding his body has taken in the wars of the NFL. It’s not fair for anyone to judge or complain about his decision. I just know hope is hard to find these days and Tom Brady was skill, dedication, heart, AND hope personified. I know how I felt when he had the ball with all the chips pushed in on the table.
He’s going to do this…because he’s a myth…my myth, as earlier man had Hercules or Joe Louis. Do it, Tom! Show them all that it isn’t about talent or birthright. It’s about hard work, preparation, desire, sacrifice, confidence, poise, and heart. He wins because he put the work in combined with his talent…what this country is supposed to be about.
I’ll be looking for that “I’m back” newspaper headline for years to come…