Tom Brady never let Father Time win as one-of-a-kind career gets fitting end

Tom Brady never let Father Time win as one-of-a-kind career gets fitting end

The relentless Tom versus Time death struggle was always going to end one day with Time’s arm raised in triumph, and even Tom Brady knew that.

So Tom Brady, who made Father Time grow old waiting for him to look like a mere mortal, decided to ruin his diabolical plans.

Brady could have continued playing past age 45, could have energized another new fan base and allowed it to dream Super Bowl dreams, but told us on Wednesday morning that he had thrown his last pass … for good this time.

He doesn’t get to ride off into the sunset with a Super Bowl championship the way John Elway did, but he gets to go out on top because he leaves on his terms, before the football world could view him as a beaten-down shell of his former self and saddened that he was just another faded gladiator who had stayed too long.

“Good morning guys. I’ll get to the point right away. I’m retiring. For good,” Brady announced by video, his voice choking, because football has forever been his first love … a love that appears to have cost him his marriage to Gisele.

His 2022 retirement lasted 40 days.

This one looks and sounds like it will last forever.

What he accomplished — seven Super Bowl championships, six with Bill Belichick and the Patriots, the seventh with the Bucs at age 43 — makes him the unchallenged GOAT.

Tom Brady
Tom Brady walks off the field for the last time after the Buccaneers’ playoff loss to the Cowboys.Getty Images

Not even Michael Jordan could win his seventh championship when he unretired for a second time at age 38 as a Washington Wizard.

Not even Muhammad Ali, Greatest of All Time, could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee for too long once he returned from exile, and took too many beatings for too long, and paid a dear price for them. Watching him resemble a sparring partner for Larry Holmes in 1980 on closed circuit pained me, and he should never have been allowed to step into the ring at the end of 1981 against Trevor Berbick in what was billed as Drama in Bahama.

Willie Mays couldn’t be the Say Hey Kid at 42. Mickey Mantle, my childhood hero, was a far cry from the Commerce Comet and the Mighty Mick when he called it quits at 37.

Tom Brady announced his retirement Wednesday morning in a video filmed on the beach.
Tom Brady announced his retirement Wednesday morning in a video filmed on the beach.tombrady/Twitter

Father Time had knocked Ali out. Father Time decisioned Peyton Manning, and Eli Manning, and Drew Brees, and John Unitas and Broadway Joe before them, and on and on it went.

Tom Brady was Forever Young.

And that is the way we should want to remember him. That is the way he deserves to be remembered.

He made teammates believe, made the Patriots believe they could overcome a 28-3 deficit to the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, he made his teams better, he changed the culture in Tampa the moment he arrived.

For so long, you couldn’t miss the joy he found competing and winning on his handsome face, perhaps until this season, when the images of him screaming at his offensive line on the sidelines and throwing Microsoft Surface tablets was striking.

In his Last Dance, his last desperate attempt to capture his eighth ring, that joy was not as evident, not as frequent.

The mental grind of an NFL season for one who gives everything he has to give every single day seemed to take its toll, and only Tom Brady knows what kind of emotional toll he paid for a public divorce from the mother of two of his three children, 10-year-old Vivian and 13-year-old Benjamin.

Tom Brady celebrates winning a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers.USA TODAY Sports
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, right, talks with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning after the Patriots 24-14 win during their AFC Championship game in 2004. AP

He wasn’t the GTAT … Greatest Talent of All Time. He couldn’t throw the ball like Dan Marino or Elway or Namath. Few could. He Just Won, Baby … 251 times. He was the NFL version of Bill Russell, who won 11 NBA championships with the Celtics as a player.

The tributes came pouring in from every NFL precinct, and beyond.

“Every season he tried to be better than the season before,” Peyton Manning said.

“Still thought he was playing at a high level,” Eli Manning said.

Not the elite level he expected of himself, even if he did throw for 4,694 yards, even if he did throw 25 touchdowns against nine interceptions, but because of his arm and his brain and his raging will to win, still a high enough level where he possibly could have won one more Super Bowl with a better team around him. The 2022 Bucs were not that team.

We were fortunate watching him grow up across 23 seasons, watching him grow from a skinny sixth-round pick out of Michigan into Peyton Manning’s worst nightmare, into every Jets fan’s worst nightmare.

Tom Brady with ex-wife Gisele Bündchen and their children.gisele/Instagram

The NFL is a lesser place without TB12.

He was TB1 of a kind.

It was a fairytale career, except for Deflategate, and a 10-year, $375 million deal as Fox analyst is waiting for him.

For me, the best fairytale of all would be a reconciliation and reunion with Gisele.

Perhaps Brady looked in the mirror and for the first time noticed Father Time lurking in the background. But for now, we can celebrate Tom Brady, the champion who refused to let America watch the image we all dread: Father Time’s hand being raised in triumph.