Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has officially announced his retirement from the NFL, saying Tuesday in an Instagram post that he is "not going to make that competitive commitment anymore."
"I have always believed the sport of football is an 'all-in' proposition -- if a 100% competitive commitment isn't there, you won't succeed, and success is what I love so much about our game," Brady said in his statement on Instagram. "There is a physical, mental and emotional challenge EVERY single day that has allowed me to maximize my highest potential. And I have tried my very best these past 22 years. There are no shortcuts to success on the field or in life.
"This is difficult for me to write, but here it goes: I am not going to make that competitive commitment anymore. I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention. I've done a lot of reflecting the past week and have asked myself difficult questions. And I am so proud of what we have achieved. My teammates, coaches, fellow competitors, and fans deserve 100% of me, but right now, it's best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes."
Brady, 44, widely considered the greatest quarterback in NFL history, won seven Lombardi trophies, the most championships won by a single player, along with five Super Bowl MVPs.
He rewrote much of the NFL record book with personal and team accomplishments. He piled up career records such as most touchdown passes (624) and most passing yards (84,250) in his 22 seasons -- of which 20 were with the New England Patriots.
"My playing career has been such a thrilling ride, and far beyond my imagination, and full of ups and downs," Brady said in his statement. "When you're in it every day, you really don't think about any kind of ending. As I sit here now, however, I think of all the great players and coaches I was privileged to play with and against -- the competition was fierce and deep, JUST HOW WE LIKE IT. But the friendships and relationships are just as fierce and deep. I will remember and cherish these memories and re-visit them often. I feel like the luckiest person in the world."
Brady, who led the Bucs to a Super Bowl title last season and NFC South championship this season, has been adamant for weeks that he never wanted a "farewell season," sources told ESPN.
Buccaneers executives and coaches have been bracing for Brady's retirement in recent weeks, recognizing that it was more likely than not that he would hang it up after the season, team sources told ESPN.
"To my Bucs teammates the past two years, I love you guys, and I have loved going to battle with you," Brady said in his post. "You have dug so deep to challenge yourself, and it inspired me to wake up every day and give you my best. I am always here for you guys and want to see you continue to push yourselves to be your best. I couldn't be happier with what we accomplished together."
In his announcement, Brady thanked everyone with the Bucs, his business partners, his agents and his family. While he reflected on his career, he did not specifically mention his time with the Patriots or anybody within the organization in his statement, though he did later thank the team and its fans in response to a statement issued by Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
"Words cannot describe the feelings I have for Tom Brady, nor adequately express the gratitude my family, the New England Patriots and our fans have for Tom for all he did during his career," Kraft said in his statement. "A generation of football fans have grown up knowing only an NFL in which Tom Brady dominated. ...
"You didn't have to be a Patriots fan to respect and appreciate his competitiveness, determination and will to win that fueled his success. As a fan of football, it was a privilege to watch. As a Patriots fan, it was a dream come true."
Sources told ESPN on Saturday that Brady had chosen to retire, but Brady's family and the Bucs had said that a final decision had not been reached. On Monday, Brady said on his SiriusXM podcast that he wasn't ready to finalize his plans.
After 20 seasons with New England that had already cemented his legacy, Brady joined the Bucs in March 2020 and immediately added another chapter to his story with a seventh Super Bowl title -- the first won by a team in its own stadium.
"Tom joined us as the greatest football player of all time, and he quickly showed everyone in our organization what that meant," Bucs coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday. "He set a standard and helped create a culture that took our team to the mountaintop.
"It has been an honor to be his head coach for the past two seasons. I wish it didn't have to end, but few players have the opportunity to leave the game on their own terms. Even fewer can do it while playing at an elite level. Tom is the exception. I have a deep appreciation and respect for what he has done for our franchise, and I wish him and his family nothing but the best in this next chapter of life after football."
Overall, Brady finishes with a 243-73 regular-season record and 35-12 in the playoffs. He won three MVP awards and was selected to the Pro Bowl 15 times.
Brady went from 199th pick in the 2000 draft to replacing an injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001 and leading New England to a Super Bowl victory over the heavily favored Rams that season.
Brady led the Patriots to consecutive Super Bowl titles following the 2003-04 seasons. No team has since repeated as champions.
But New England wouldn't win another one for a decade, twice losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, including a 17-14 defeat on Feb. 3, 2008, that prevented the Patriots from completing a perfect season.
Brady earned his fourth ring after the 2014 season. Two years later, in the biggest Super Bowl comeback, he led the Patriots out of a 28-3 deficit in the third quarter against Atlanta Falcons to win in overtime for No. 5. Brady got his sixth championship when New England beat the Rams following the 2018 season.
He reached the playoffs 19 times, won 18 division titles, went 10-4 in conference championships and 7-3 in Super Bowls.
After starting his first game on Sept. 30, 2001, Brady was under center for every game except when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1 in 2008 and the first four games in 2016 when he sat out a suspension because of the Deflategate scandal.
Known for his work ethic, intense exercise regimen and strict diet, Brady was better with age.
After turning 37, Brady won four Super Bowls and was 17-4 in the playoffs. He was 95-30, completed 65.2% of his passes for 35,371 yards, 265 TDs, 69 interceptions and 100.2 passer rating in the regular season in those eight seasons.
"Tom Brady will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play in the NFL," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement released Tuesday. "An incredible competitor and leader, his stellar career is remarkable for its longevity but also for the sustained excellence he displayed year after year.
"Tom made everyone around him better and always seemed to rise to the occasion in the biggest moments. ... He inspired fans in New England, Tampa and around the world with one of the greatest careers in NFL history. It has been a privilege to watch him compete and have him in the NFL. We thank him for his many contributions to our game and wish Tom and his family all the best in the future."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.