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The Roar



Why Tom Brady’s rise to GOAT status is one of sport's most incredible stories

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2nd February, 2023

Even those who don’t have a clue about American football surely recognised the name of Tom Brady.

On Thursday the 46-year-old announced his retirement for the second time in the space of a year in an emotional Instagram post. This time, though, it’s for good.

Brady is an iconic name thanks to an extraordinary career and a certain charisma both on and off the field that very few athletes possess.

But why was his career so extraordinary? It’s because of the struggles he had to overcome early on and the persistent hard work and absolute dedication to being the best.

Usually athletes who are blessed with the most natural talent are often the ones who let that talent go to waste. The most successful athletes might not be blessed with natural talent but will work ten times harder than anyone else to improve and stay consistent.

The latter couldn’t be any more true in Brady’s case.

Michigan was his first home where he made his college football debut only to be benched for the first two seasons and serve as a backup to Brian Griese, who led the team to an undefeated campaign.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)


Obviously the NFL is a very physically demanding sport. It requires a specific build, something that Brady was not born with, and he had to improve this aspect by hitting the gym and working on his overall physique over time.

In his final year for Michigan he led them to victory in the Orange Bowl over Alabama, where he tasted his first bit of success.

Still, Brady’s performances in fitness and skill trials for the draft were unimpressive, leading to one scout going as far as saying, “poor build… gets knocked down easily”.

Doubters were still present. It would have knocked the confidence of many young footballers, but not Tom Brady.

Unbelievably, the Michigan product was drafted in the sixth round with the 199th overall pick by the New England Patriots, who took a chance on the young lad. Yes, unbelievable.

Even before he first touched a ball in the NFL, the signs were there that Brady was going to be something special.

Entering the Patriots building for the first time, owner Robert Kraft was approached by Brady, who looked him dead in the eye and adamantly told him, “I’m the best decision this organisation has ever made”.


That confidence is what has made him so great. Some might call it arrogance, but sometimes you need a bit of that to stamp your authority truly.

Again he had to fight his way into the team, just as he did previously with Michigan. Starter Drew Bledsoe succumbed to an injury, and Brady had his chance.

The rest was history.

Tom Brady throws the ball

(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Seven Super Bowl rings, three MVPs and 89,214 passing yards later, Tom Brady is now considered the greatest of all time, which is what his legacy will be remembered for, and rightfully so.

There is no doubt that he had some fortune along the way by being in the right place at the right time, but he earned his own luck through the adversity he had to overcome in those earlier days.

A dynasty was created with Patriots coach Bill Belichick that will never be surpassed in our lifetimes.


Of course the franchise was smothered in talent in all positions, but it was the relationship between Brady and Belichick that set the tone.

It wouldn’t be a Brady tribute without recognising the insane comeback in the 2017 Super Bowl, with the Patriots clawing their way back from a 28-3 deficit with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

That game summed up the prominent leader that Brady was, executing vital plays in critical moments and spearheading his group into not giving up.

A well-respected figure in the dressing room, it is difficult to find anyone who has something negative to say about Brady and his character.

The most admirable aspect of Brady’s career would have to be stepping out of his comfort zone and joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Fans and pundits said he had lost his magic and wasn’t the same player as before due to his age.

Just like he had been doing his whole career since college, Brady silenced those doubters and won his seventh and final Super Bowl ring for the Bucs.


Brady will also be remembered for his longevity in the game and being able to perform at the highest of standards up until 46.

He ended his career with an indisputably poor season, and ending his career didn’t deserve.

Some say he should have ended his career when he was on a high and not risk tarnishing his legacy. But when he came out of retirement last March just 40 days after announcing he was hanging up the helmet, it was not a form of attention-seeking; it was a sign of how much Brady truly loves the game and how he would do anything to throw more touchdown passes and lift another Lombardy trophy.

His story has paved the way for young kids who dream of playing in the NFL to focus on believing only in themselves.

Twenty-three years later, who would have thought that a lanky teenager from the University of Michigan would evolve his body and game in cementing his place as undeniably one of the best we have ever seen.

For most, he’s the greatest of all time.