The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Tom Brady’s retirement is greeted with praise, jokes and so many goats

This time around, Tom Brady’s retirement announcement seems final. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)
3 min

The retirement of an all-time great athlete is usually greeted with praise, a bit of sadness and, in the case of Tom Brady on Wednesday, a bit of sarcasm for announcing his retirement a year after he did the same thing — and then returned for another season.

As a head coach, Rex Ryan knew what it was like to lose to Brady’s teams in New England. “My first thought was, ‘Good for him,’ ” Ryan, now an ESPN commentator, said on the network Wednesday morning after Brady’s announcement on social media. “He left this game on his own. He was … still at the top of his game — maybe not the top, but close. He did set an NFL record for most pass attempts and most completions this year, and that’s how he’s going out.

“To me he is without question the greatest of all time. I had the fortune and misfortune at the same time of coaching against this guy more than any other coach, and I’ll tell you this: He was an amazing competitor. His competitiveness was unreal. He was so hard to beat.”

Ryan praised Brady for elevating his teammates, something Tedy Bruschi, a former Patriots linebacker who now works for ESPN, said he “saw Brady grow into,” going from the 199th draft pick in 2000 to the team’s leader when Drew Bledsoe was injured the following year. “He captured every teammate’s motivation in why they play,” Bruschi said. “The one word he used all the time,” he continued, “was ‘relationship.’ ”

Bruschi noted that competition was an “addiction” for Brady and that knowledge made watching his video announcement even more difficult. “I got emotional myself,” Bruschi said, “because I just know how hard that was for him to do. Tom Brady is basically saying, ‘I choose not to compete anymore.’ … As a former teammate, I feel compelled to say, ‘No, Tom, thank you.’ ”

Tributes streamed in on social media Wednesday. There were plenty of goat emoji, referencing Brady’s status as the greatest of all time (GOAT), and acknowledgments that Brady seems to mean it this time, headed for a new career as a Fox commentator.

Baseball great Derek Jeter tweeted: “Congrats @TomBrady on an unbelievable career. It was fun to watch!” Nick Foles, who quarterbacked the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles team that handed Brady one of his three Super Bowl losses, tweeted, “Much respect Tom.”

Defensive end J.J. Watt, who announced his retirement near the end of this season, tweeted that Brady is the “Greatest of All Time. No question, no debate,” and joked, “PS — The newly retired group meets on the golf course every morning at 10am. Drinks are on the new guy, so bring your wallet.”

SportsNet New York’s New York Giants Twitter feed offered a snarkily deft reminder that those other two Super Bowl losses came at the hands of Eli Manning.

Only 10 days ago, Brady said he hadn’t decided whether to play beyond his 46th birthday in August. “If I knew what I was going to f---ing do I would’ve already f---ing done it” were the words he used on his podcast with Jim Gray as rumors about where he might play began to swirl.

Now, though, he knows, and so does everyone else.