Tom Brady: Career retrospective | Yardbarker

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Tom Brady‘s career is the stuff of legends. The seven-time Super Bowl champion is considered one of the greatest football players of all time. Whether you know him as Tom terrific, the comeback kid, or simply the GOAT, one fact remains true: you can never count Brady out of a game. After a short stint in retirement, Brady is back with the Bucs for his 23rd season. The 44-year-old ageless wonder is looking to go out a champion with an otherworldly eight Super Bowl victory. The Bucs stacked roster could get him there. Before the start of what is shaping up to be his final season in the NFL, let’s take a moment to appreciate greatness and look back on his legendary career…so far. 

 

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Growing up outside San Francisco

DOUG HOKE/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK

Born and raised in San Mateo, California, Tom Brady was a diehard San Francisco 49ers fan. His family had season tickets and his dad took him to several games when he was a kid. In fact, Brady was in the stands for “The Catch” game where his idol Joe Montana threw the game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Dwight Clark against the Dallas Cowboys in 1981. Growing up, Brady’s dream was to play quarterback for the 49ers.

 

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Two-sport high school athlete

Two-sport high school athlete

John Green/Bay Area News Group

At Junipero Serra High School, Brady was a two-sport athlete, playing quarterback for the football team and catcher for the baseball team. Brady sent his passing highlight reel to colleges across the country, yet he had little luck getting scholarship offers to play at the next level.

 

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College days at the University of Michigan

College days at the University of Michigan

RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Under head coach Lloyd Carr, The Michigan Wolverines took a chance on the talented yet underappreciated prospect. Brady redshirted his freshman season in 1995 and was a backup to future NFL starter Brian Griese for the next two seasons. Brady contemplated transferring back home to play college ball at the University of California but he ended up staying with the Wolverines. 

For his junior and senior years, Brady and Drew Henson competed in a neck-and-neck quarterback battle for the starting job. Both players got their fair share of playing time to see who was the top dog. As a fifth-year senior, Brady handled the adversity with supreme poise and became known for his wild comeback victories, winning the admiration of Michigan fans everywhere as he led them to victory in the 2000 Orange Bowl against Alabama.

 

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2000 NFL Combine performance

2000 NFL Combine performance

RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

After Brady’s time with the Wolverines came to an end, he registered for the NFL Draft. Brady participated in the 2000 NFL Combine, where he ran a 5.28 40-yard dash time, one of the slowest times for a quarterback in the combine’s history. Brady struggled with several of the combine drills, which test athletic ability, not the intangibles that make a player great. 

When the combine was over, Brady’s scouting report said he had a “poor build, skinny, lacks great physical stature and strength, lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush, lacks a really strong arm, can’t drive the ball downfield, does not throw a really tight spiral, system-type player who can get exposed if forced to ad-lib, and gets knocked down easily.”

 

Drafted by the New England Patriots in the 6th round.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It is hard to believe now but Brady flew under a lot of team’s radar in the NFL Draft because of his limited playing time in college and his combine performance. It wasn’t until the third day of the draft that Brady was selected, going 199th overall in the sixth round of the 2000 Draft. Six quarterbacks were taken ahead of Brady including Chad Pennington, Chris Redman, Marc Bulger, Giovanni Carmazzi, Tee Martin, and Spergon Wynn. Brady is the only quarterback left from his draft class still playing in the NFL. 

 

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Backup in rookie season

Backup in rookie season

Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Brady earned himself a spot on the Patriots’ roster as backup to Drew Bledsoe, a four-time Pro Bowler, and the Patriots’ franchise quarterback at the time. While he showed potential during reps in practice, he barely saw the field in his rookie season. At this stage of his career, Brady was working hard to prove he had what it takes to be a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL. All he needed was a chance…

 

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Tom Brady takes over for injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001

Tom Brady takes over for injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001

Lou Capozzola-USA TODAY Sports

In the fourth quarter of a Week 2 matchup against the New York Jets, Drew Bledsoe scrambled out of the pocket toward the sideline when linebacker Mo Lewis delivered a bone-chilling hit on the franchise quarterback. The hit was so vicious Bledsoe had to be hospitalized with a collapsed lung and internal bleeding. Brady took over the starting job for the rest of the season. He never looked back, leading his team to an 11-5 record and a first-round bye in the playoffs on 18 touchdowns and 2,843 passing yards.

 

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The Tuck Rule Game

The Tuck Rule Game

Bob Breidenbach / USA TODAY NETWORK

In his first opportunity as a starting quarterback in the NFL, Brady had his team in an ideal situation for a Super Bowl run. The Patriots’ first test was the Oakland Raiders in a snowy divisional-round matchup in Foxborough. With 1:50 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Patriots were trailing the Raiders 13-10 when Brady was strip-sacked by safety Charles Woodson, his former college teammate at Michigan. The fumble was recovered by Oakland. After much debate from the refs, the fumble was reversed into an incomplete pass in what is now known as the Tuck Rule. The Patriots tied the game 13-13 on an Adam Vinatieri field goal and would go on to win in overtime, 16-13. A week later, the Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game, advancing to Super Bowl XXXVI.

 

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The Patriots are Super Bowl champions

The Patriots are Super Bowl champions

Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Tom Brady’s Patriots faced the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, LA. Going up against The Greatest Show on Turf was no easy feat, especially for a second-year quarterback drafted in the sixth round. The game was tied 17-17 in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Brady’s last-second drive set up Adam Vinatieri to kick a miraculous 48-yard field goal as the clock struck zero. The Patriots were finally Super Bowl champions! Brady logged 145 yards passing and a passing touchdown en route to a 20-17 victory, winning Super Bowl MVP for his heroic efforts. 

 

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Second Super Bowl victory is a nail-biter

Second Super Bowl victory is a nail-biter

MPS-USA TODAY Sports

The Super Bowl hangover got to the New England Patriots, who went 9-7 and missed the playoffs in 2002. They recovered with a 14-2 record, good enough to clinch the number one seed in the AFC and a first-round bye. In the playoffs, the Patriots cruised past the Tennessee Titans and Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts all the way to Super Bowl XXXVIII for a showdown with the Carolina Panthers. It was a back-and-forth nail-biter. Brady outdueled Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme in a 32-29 shootout for his second ring and Super Bowl MVP. Brady finished the day with 354 yards passing to go with 3 touchdown passes and an excellent 100.5 passer rating. 

 

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Dynasty status: Three Super Bowls in four years

Dynasty status: Three Super Bowls in four years

Dilip Vishwanat-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots went 14-2 again in 2004. Brady launched 28 touchdowns and 3,692 passing yards in the regular season, leading his team to Super Bowl XXXIX where they’d face the high-flying Philadelphia Eagles. Against a hard-hitting Eagles defense, Brady threw 2 touchdowns and 236 yards, defeating Philly 24-21 in a thriller that went down to the wire. Winning three Super Bowls in four years catapulted the New England Patriots to dynasty status and solidified Brady as an NFL legend.

 

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Iconic rivalry against Peyton Manning

Iconic rivalry against Peyton Manning

Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the greatest quarterback rivalry ever. Every time the legendary quarterbacks go head-to-head, it’s as if an NFL classic is born. They dueled it out in several must-win matchups over the years. Brady has an 11-6 record against Manning.

 

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The perfect season (almost)

The perfect season (almost)

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason additions of wide receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker revamped the Patriots’ offense for another Super Bowl run in 2007. Brady got used to his new targets quickly to the tune of 4,806 passing yards, 50 touchdowns, a 68.9 completion percentage, and a 117.2 passer rating. Brady’s brilliant 2007 season nabbed him his first MVP award as he led New England to an 18-0 record. Unfortunately, they fell short of achieving immortality against the New York Giants in a 17-14 loss in Super Bowl XLII. The Giants’ pass rush was relentless, sacking Brady five times. 

 

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2008 season lost to injury

2008 season lost to injury

Photo by Elsa Garrison/Getty Images

The Patriots squared off against the Chiefs for the first game of the 2008 season. Expectations were high coming off an 18-0 campaign the previous year. This all changed when Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard sacked Tom Brady off the blitz. The comeback kid was out for the rest of the season with an ACL and MCL tear in his left knee. The Patriots failed to make the playoffs without their star quarterback behind center.

 

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Brady wins Comeback Player of the Year

Brady wins Comeback Player of the Year

MPS-USA TODAY Sports

Brady rebounded from his gruesome knee injury by terrorizing NFL defenses for 28 touchdowns and 4,398 yards. The Patriots won 10 games. Brady played with a chip on his shoulder all season long and won the 2009 Comeback Player of the Year award.

 

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Marrying Giselle Bundchen

Marrying Giselle Bundchen

Photo by Jamie McCarthy/FilmMagic

Tom Brady and Giselle Bundchen got married in 2009. The power couple has a combined net worth of $650 million. When he can, Brady always makes room to spend time with his wife and kids.

 

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Second Super Bowl loss to the Giants

Second Super Bowl loss to the Giants

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Brady won his second MVP award in the 2010 season and lost to the New York Jets in the divisional round of the playoffs. He followed up this campaign by marching the Patriots all the way to the doorstep of Super Bowl XLVI for a rematch against the New York Giants. It was the second time in four years they faced each other in the Super Bowl. Tom Brady’s clutch playmaking ability wasn’t enough to get the Patriots past the Giants as Brady lost his second Super Bowl, 21-17.

 

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Brady wins fourth Super Bowl in dramatic fashion

Brady wins fourth Super Bowl in dramatic fashion

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots headed into the 2014 season with hopes of winning their first Super Bowl since 2004. After a slow start and Bill Belichick’s iconic “We’re onto Cincinnati” press conference, the Patriots got it together and advanced to Super Bowl XLIX for a matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. Tom Brady and the Patriots trailed the Seahawks 24-14 heading into the fourth quarter. After Brady led a ferocious comeback to take a 28-24 lead, Seattle drove it all the way down to the one-yard line, where star quarterback Russell Wilson threw an interception into the hands of unlikely Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler. The final seconds ticked away, and as fate would have it, Brady hoisted the Lombardi Trophy for the fourth time.

 

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Deflategate controversy

Deflategate controversy

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

After a blowout victory against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC Championship Game, the NFL conducted an investigation into the air pressure of the footballs Tom Brady used during the game. It was determined that the game balls violated league rules. Brady served a four-game suspension for the 2016 season and the Deflategate scandal lives on in NFL lore.

 

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Miraculous comeback victory in Super Bowl LI

Miraculous comeback victory in Super Bowl LI

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Upon returning from his suspension, Brady set out for a revenge tour against the entire NFL, throwing 28 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions and 3,554 yards passing. The Patriots made it to the Super Bowl for the second time in three years. Their opponent: the Atlanta Falcons and NFL MVP Matt Ryan. The Falcons held a 28-3 lead against Brady heading into the fourth quarter. But you can never count Brady out of a game. In what might be the greatest game of his entire career, Brady rallied the Patriots to a miraculous comeback victory against all odds, winning Super Bowl LI in overtime, 34-28. 

In the final frame, Brady won his record-setting fifth ring, and the Falcon’s blown 28-3 lead turned into one of the biggest sports memes of the decade.

 

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Brady on the cover of Madden 18

Brady on the cover of Madden 18

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady was the cover athlete of Madden 18. It was Brady’s first time on the Madden cover. Thankfully, the Madden Curse didn’t get to Brady, who would go on to have one of his best seasons in 2017.

 

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Third MVP and Super Bowl loss

Third MVP and Super Bowl loss

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 season was another productive outing for the GOAT. Brady led the league in passing yards (4,577) and attempts (581) to go along with 32 touchdowns. He won his third MVP and advanced all the way to Super Bowl LII for a rematch against the Philadelphia Eagles. Brady threw for a Super Bowl record 505 yards in a 41-33 loss to the Eagles. The game turned into a shootout as both teams scored early and often. Super Bowl LII broke the record for most yards gained by both teams with 1,151 yards.

 

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Brady wins sixth Super Bowl

Brady wins sixth Super Bowl

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Brady wouldn’t be denied his sixth Super Bowl victory. After leading the Patriots to their third straight Super Bowl, the Patriots bested the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in a defensive slugfest. The win gave the New England Patriots six Super Bowls, tied for the most all-time with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

 

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The end of the Brady-Belichick era

The end of the Brady-Belichick era

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 season ended with a wild card round exit to the Tennessee Titans. It would go down as Brady’s last game as a Patriot. During his 20 years with the franchise, the Patriots won 17 AFC East division titles, appeared in 13 AFC Championship Games, went to nine Super Bowls, and won six of them. The Patriots dynasty was complete. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick formed the most successful quarterback-coaching duo the Game has ever seen.

 

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Brady signs with the Bucs

Brady signs with the Bucs

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It was time for a change of scenery for the GOAT. After testing the free-agent market, Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. Brady set out to create a winning culture with the Buccaneers, a team that hadn’t seen success since winning Super Bowl XXXVII back in 2002.

 

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First home team to win Super Bowl

First home team to win Super Bowl

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Seeing Brady in a Buccaneers jersey took some getting used to. It was a new team, but it was the same Brady, throwing for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns en route to an 11-5 record. It was the Buccaneers’ first playoff berth since 2007. The drought was over. Brady led the stacked Bucs roster all the way to Super Bowl LV, where they’d face the Kansas City Chiefs. Brady’s Bucs were the first-ever home team in a Super Bowl. They blew out the Chiefs 31-9, giving Brady his logic-defying seventh ring at 43 years old. Brady accomplished all this on a new team during an NFL season forever changed because of COVID-19.

 

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Breaking the passes completed record in 2021

Breaking the passes completed record in 2021

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In 2021, Brady completed 485 passes, an NFL season record. He also led the league in attempts (719), yards (5,316), and touchdowns (43). It was one of Brady’s finest statistical seasons. The Bucs made it to the playoffs with a 13-4 record and lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.

 

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Short-lived retirement

Short-lived retirement

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Brady announced his retirement from the NFL at the end of the 2021 season.  Brady could only handle 40 days of life without football before he rejoined the Bucs, who were happy. The 2022 season could be Brady’s farewell tour. In the twilight of his legendary career, winning an eighth Super Bowl would leave no question about who the GOAT is.

 

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Signing a blockbuster deal with Fox Sports

Signing a blockbuster deal with Fox Sports

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Brady secured a job after football during the 2022 season. Fox Sports came calling with a whopping 10-year $375 million deal to be their lead NFL Analyst. Brady always took sizable pay cuts to help his team’s salary cap during his career. The football gods repaid him for his selflessness. Brady calling games from the announcer booth sounds like must-watch TV.

 

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Ventures outside of football

Ventures outside of football

Handout photo-USA TODAY Sports

Besides the gridiron, Brady is busy with TB-12, his official health and wellness brand. In his free time during the offseason, he has appeared in three episodes of “The Match,” a game where athletes versus each other in an exhibition golf match for a good cause. In 2020, Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning went up against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. In his second appearance, Brady and Mickelson matched up against Bryson DeChambeau and Packers legend Aaron Rodgers in 2021. In 2022, Tom Brady teamed up with Aaron Rodgers in a golf match against Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen in a quarterback-on-quarterback showdown. 

 

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The resume of the GOAT

The resume of the GOAT

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In total, Brady has won seven Super Bowls, five Super Bowl MVPs, three NFL MVPs, two Offensive Player of the Year awards, and NFL Comeback Player of the Year. 

A 15-time Pro Bowl selection, he led the league in passing yards four times and passing touchdowns five times. He holds NFL records in career wins by a quarterback (243), passing attempts (11,317), passing completions (7,263), touchdowns (624) and yards (84,520). He is the only player to win Super Bowl MVP with two different teams (Patriots, Buccaneers).

 

The greatest

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady went from sixth-round draft pick to the greatest quarterback in NFL history. No one expected Tom Brady to succeed in the NFL. He proved the doubters wrong and became the franchise quarterback of the greatest dynasty in North American sports history. While we don’t know when Brady will finally hang up the cleats, a spot in Canton will be waiting for him when he does.

David J. Hunt is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. He ran cross country at Penn State, became a volunteer firefighter during COVID-19, and is a self taught journalist. He’s a diehard Philly sports fan. When he isn’t watching sports, he enjoys working out, fishing, and traveling. You can find more of his writing at The Chestnut Hill Local and The Temple News. You can follow him on Twitter at @dave_hunt44.



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