Tom Brady announced his departure from the New England Patriots on Tuesday, ending a glittering 20-year run with the franchise which saw him become the most successful quarterback in NFL history.
Brady, 42, confirmed his departure in a series of posts on social media but did not divulge where he will play next season.
“Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM accomplishments,” Brady said in a statement.
“I don’t know what my football future holds but it is time for me to open a new stage for my life and career,” he added.
LOVE YOU PATS NATION pic.twitter.com/lxSQZmnjPL
FOREVER A PATRIOT pic.twitter.com/QSBOJBs4uy
Brady is widely regarded as the greatest quarterback in NFL history, winning a record six Super Bowl titles in a career with the Patriots spanning three decades.
He has won a record four Super Bowl MVP awards and has been the NFL’s season MVP three times — in 2007, 2010 and 2017.
He is also the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, guiding the Patriots to victory over the Los Angeles Rams last year at the age of 41.
Brady’s nine total Super Bowl appearances are also a record for any NFL player, a testament to his remarkable longevity.
His departure from New England ends one of the NFL’s iconic double-acts, with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
NFL WORLD REACTS
Tom Brady will forever be a Patriots legend.Source:Getty Images
Brady’s announcement sparked plenty of reaction as wellwishes flooded in and speculation about where he might end up went into overdrive.
Well known American sports media personality Bill Simmons, a Patriots fan, summed up the quarterback’s influence on New England.
Before 12, the best Patriots QBs ever were Drew Bledsoe and Steve Grogan.
The photo below of The Grog was the defining Pats photo of the pre-Brady era. It’s true.
Anyway — I just turned 50 and somehow had the same QB for 40% of my life. What an amazing ride. Thanks Tom Brady! pic.twitter.com/Sd9GTVtw7c
A stack of past and present NFL players, including Brady’s former teammate Darrelle Revis, heaped praise on the 42-year-old.
On Instagram, Brady’s potential successor Jarrett Stidham wrote: “Love you brother! Thank you for everything!”
Pats wide receiver Jakobi Meyers said: “Legend … it was an honour.”
Fellow New England star Patrick Chung added: “Don’t worry about anything but you and your family boss! It’s been a pleasure man. Thank you for being you. Not even the QB but just the man you are. Your wife and kids have an amazing person to call their father and husband. Until we meet again boss!”
Practice against Tom Brady everyday was like playing on the 92’ Dream Team. He brought that much intensity to the practice field. Which ever team he lands I’m sure he will continue his legacy of playing a great brand of football. #TB12 pic.twitter.com/Y6tKUOapIk
I guess all good things to truly come to an end! What an era for TB12 in New England! You can only grow but so much in the same soil??
I don’t like Tom Brady leaving. It’s gives me Joe Montana Vibes. It can only be right to me if he goes to San Fran. That would be dope!
CELEBRITIES PAY TRIBUTE
Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, left a message on Instagram after her husband went public with his decision.
“So much gratitude for all the wonderful experiences and friendships we had in beautiful New England this past few years,” she commented on his post about leaving.
“Te amo,” she added, which means “I love you” in Spanish.
Boston native and actor Chris Evans, of Captain America fame, thanked Brady for his years of service, while fellow Hollywood star and Patriots fan Mark Wahlberg commented on social media with six love heart emojis.
To the greatest quarterback of all time,
Thank you for 20 years of excellence. It was a privilege to watch you work, @TomBrady. #GOAT
UFC president Dana White said “thank you for EVERYTHING!!!” with a GOAT emoji, to signal Brady is the Greatest of all Time.
The GOAT emoji was widely used by those responding to Brady on social media, including by Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic.
BELICHICK HAILS ‘THE GREATEST’
Brady and Belichick formed one of sport’s greatest ever partnerships.Source:AP
Belichick has been in charge in New England from the start of Brady’s career, plucking him from obscurity with the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL draft and moulding the youngster into a champion quarterback.
Belichick described Brady as the “greatest quarterback of all time” in a statement.
“It has been a privilege to coach Tom Brady for 20 years,” Belichick said. “He didn’t just perform. He didn’t just win. He won championships over and over again.
“Sometimes in life, it takes some time to pass before truly appreciating something or someone but that has not been the case with Tom.”
Brady has repeatedly stated that he plans to play until his mid-40s but speculation about his future had raged after he failed to reach agreement with the Patriots about an extension last year.
Brady’s relationship with Belichick has also reportedly come under strain in recent seasons, with the quarterback increasingly at odds with the coach’s austere, tough-love management style.
Nevertheless, Brady had remained close to the Patriots’ billionaire owner Robert Kraft, who said Tuesday that he viewed the quarterback like a son.
“How do I possibly sum up the depth of my gratitude to Tom Brady for what he’s given us these past 20 years, or the sadness I feel knowing it’s ending?” Kraft said in a statement. “I love Tom like a son and I always will.
“I had hoped this day would never come, but rather that Tom would end his remarkable career in a Patriots uniform after yet another Super Bowl championship.
“Unfortunately, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement to allow that dream to become a reality.
“While sad today, the overwhelming feeling I have is appreciation for his countless contributions to our team and community.”
Kraft said Brady let him know of the decision by coming over and telling him in person.
“Tommy initiated contact and came over. We had a positive, respectful discussion,” Kraft said. “It’s not the way I want it to end, but I want him to do what is in his best personal interest. After 20 years with us, he has earned that right. I love him like a son.”
FRUSTRATING FINAL SEASON WITH THE PATS
Not everything went to plan in Brady’s final season.Source:Getty Images
Brady was often visibly frustrated during what turned out to be his final season with the Patriots, often operating with an inexperienced receiving corps and sorely missing the giant presence of retired tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The Patriots were bundled out in the wildcard round of the playoffs in January, suffering an upset 20-13 defeat at home to the Tennessee Titans.
Since that playoff exit, Brady has been tight-lipped about his future although a number of teams have reportedly been targeting him ahead of the start of free agency, which gets under way on Thursday.
He had been linked with a possible move to Tennessee but that option was taken off the table when the Titans reportedly opted to retain Ryan Tannehill instead.
With the Titans out of the picture, three teams are seen as the likeliest options for Brady — the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders.
While a move to Tampa Bay would be seen as a marked step down — they have not reached the playoffs since 2007 — both the Raiders and Chargers might be attractive to Brady for different reasons.
The Raiders will start next season in their sparkling new stadium in Las Vegas while the Chargers, who split with veteran quarterback Philip Rivers at the end of last season, are also looking to make a marquee signing as they prepare to move into their new $8 billion SoFi Stadium home in Los Angeles.
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