NFL – Negative balance sheet, half-mast attack, infirmary: Tom Brady, a final parade that looks like a big question
At 45, the greatest player in the history of American football is leaving the NFL circus through the front door. This outing, the legend obviously owes it to its rich track record, its shovel of records and the monstrous heritage that has inspired whole sections of generations. After careful consideration, Brady had finally attempted what was akin to a final gamble. But this closing ball is far from having satisfied the conductor.
This time it’s the end: Brady puts an end to his career
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The passion for the game, the fear of lack and still wanting to write his legend, this is what had motivated « TB12 » to prolong the pleasure. Lover of the game, executioner of competition and above all relentless in winning, Tom Brady had finally made the bet to re-enter. To everyone’s surprise, but not too much anyway.
Beaten on the wire by the Los Angeles Rams (27-30), future champion, in the conference semi-finals in January 2022, the Buccaneers believed in it for the double. It is perhaps this hope and this desire to still be able to tear off to get the title that convinced Brady to re-enlist.
Yes, but now, Tom Brady’s first announcement had already generated some headaches within the Buccaneers board who had to rework a workforce in depth. With a damn handicapping salary cap for the off-season. Jordan Whitehead, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh have packed up, leaving a defensive column to rebuild. Same story in attack with the departures of Alex Cappa, Alie Marpet or Rob Gronkowski, the ultimate sidekick of the legend he had been around since 2010. Despite Ryan Jensen’s extension, just after the captain’s return to the helm , the genius of Tom Brady, as mystical as it is, did not allow the Bucs to pull out of the game.
Rob Gronkowski (l.) and Tom Brady – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Credit: Getty Images
An uneven regular season
Because it is an understatement to say if Brady and his teammates have never found the right tempo this season. Qualified in the playoffs thanks to their title in NFC South, the Floridians nevertheless ended the season with a negative record (8 wins, 9 losses), becoming the sixth team in NFL history to achieve this « feat ». And the men of Todd Bowles have never found the miracle formula to transform themselves into a claimed contender for the Super Bowl.
The 2021 champions have had to deal with a cascade of injuries throughout the season. With Leonard Fournette, Carlton Davis, Shaquil Barrett, Antoine Winfield, and especially Ryan Jensen on the flank to name a few, Tom Brady has had too many uncertainties throughout the season to count on a competitive roster. Add to that a renewed offensive squad, particularly young and lacking in real benchmarks, and the cocktail of uncertainties was full. With the league’s worst rushing offense averaging 76.9 yards per game behind the Houston Texans, the Buccaneers struggled.
If he has sometimes shown himself to be insufficient, even fallible, the « Brady totem » has nevertheless released a more than honorable copy to keep his people afloat. With a new pass completion record in the regular season with 490 of his 733 attempts, the milestone of 100,000 career passing yards exceeded (first quarterback to reach the mark) and nearly 4,694 passing yards (3rd in the league in the exercise), « Tom Terrific » has fulfilled his part of the contract. Without however managing to « exceed » him as during his most years.
His divorce from model Gisele Bundchen also had its share of upheavals as relayed by the American media, ESPN on your mind. Like a myriad of warning signs of an alas inevitable swan song.
Dallas, the victim turned executioner
However, the number 199 of the 2000 draft managed to hoist his own in the post-season, with a few miracles in the final sprint like this victory on the wire against the Titans in early December (17-16). Arrived in the skin of the outsider in the playoffs, a costume that the quarterback had not donned for a long time, Tampa Bay did not experience a miracle so far. The 48th fight in the playoffs of number 12 will have been his last. A sensational elimination since Dak Prescott’s teammates had never bent Tom Brady in his career…
And this departure from the road already had forms of farewell after the meeting. Already for the player and the followers who knew that the time of the legend was over in Tampa. « Thanks to everyone for making me feel so welcome here. It’s a great place to do this job, a great franchise“, he launched after the meeting, certainly already heckled by a maelstrom of emotions in his heart of hearts.
The following days were definitely very vague for the quarterback who wanted to take the time to reflect as he explained after the meeting. « I’m going to go home, have a good night, at least sleep as well as I can. Until now, I was focused on the matches. Really, I take one day after another. »
The famous day has arrived. That of the great departure. Yes, Tom Brady was hoping for a better outing for his last NFL tour. It would not be hazardous to say that all the followers also dreamed of a better epilogue. An exit to the top, why not. But what could be like the year too many should certainly not taint the legacy of the quarterback. Because Brady had already written his story in the most beautiful way.
Tom Brady leaves the field after the playoff match, his last career game, against the Dallas Cowboys, January 16, 2023.
Credit: Getty Images
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