Cold Feet: The Unprecedented Downfall of Tom Brady

Ben Lepper ’25

Chief Sports Editor

Congratulations, Tom Brady! You did it, and we’re all so proud of you. Of course, by “it”, I mean completely ruining your reputation in a four-month period, and by “proud”, I mean we all really wish you had just called it quits back in March. The man has nothing left to prove: he has seven Super Bowl rings, three NFL MVP awards, three first-team All-Pro honors, membership on the NFL 100 All Time Team, and so many more awards and accolades. What he has done in his lengthy NFL career will never be repeated. He’s the undisputed GOAT: Greatest of All Time. So, it made sense for him to retire back in January. What possibly else is there for him to accomplish? He can’t un-make himself the GOAT, after all. And then, he got cold feet. 

Brady’s un-retirement came as a surprise to many, but nobody thought much of it at the time. He’s a known competitor, after all. But the ensuing chaos made all his fans realize that he had made a huge mistake by un-retiring. For starters, rumors started to swell about his marriage with Gisele Bündchen. Brady soon became the subject of tabloids as word got out that Gisele was not happy with his return to football. And, I can see where she’s coming from: he’s 45 years old and has barely been there for his kids. He would rather return for another year of football than spend some time with his family. That says a lot about who he is as a person.

Then, in August, Brady was granted time away from training camp for unknown reasons. NFL Reddit was ablaze with rumors about where he possibly could have been, with my favorite being an extensive rumor about Brady being on the Masked Singer. However, it was revealed later on that he was on a vacation with his family. At the time, that was a good sign. Brady was making time for football, but also his loved ones. It appeared as if the Gisele saga had ended.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t. In September, the pair hired divorce lawyers, as the rift that Brady created by returning to football became too big to salvage. The man had eight rings and lost the only one that mattered in his quest for a potential ninth. And, in the early stages of the 2022 season, that potential ninth ring went from a possibility to a near impossible dream. Brady has not looked like himself this season, and the Bucs have faltered because of it. As I’m writing this, the Bucs are 3-3 and somehow leading the NFC South, which is looking like Tank Division (a division so bad that all four teams could be tanking for high draft picks) this season. [Editor’s note – the Bucs lost 21-3 to a Carolina Panthers team that just traded away their best player and were starting P.J. Walker. Yeah.]

While Brady’s split with Gisele hurt his public reputation a bit, the real damage came from his actions on the field and in interviews. There are three separate incidents that have not sat well with me. The first was a clip of him screaming at his offensive linemen. I know enough football to know that a lineman is the only thing between a quarterback and a crushing blow from a 300 pound monster. You do NOT mess with the linemen, no matter how upset you may be with them. They are the last line of defense and the most undervalued players on the field. Screaming at them is no way to build team chemistry. The second was a clip that surfaced of Brady practicing throws while teammate Cameron Brate was seriously injured with a head injury. Most of the rest of the team was at Brate’s side, while Brady was once again completely focused on himself. Sounds familiar. And, the last incident was a quote from Brady saying that playing a season in the NFL is like going to war. How out of touch do you have to be to make that statement? Not only is it extremely insensitive, but it also seems like he’s just whining about all the work he has to do these days. You know how he could have prevented all of this? Staying retired.

Brady has had a nightmare of a 2022. He went from American hero to hated figure in just a few months. Is he still the GOAT? Absolutely. But once he finally hangs up his cleats, his achievements won’t be the thing in most people’s minds. What will be is the disaster he caused himself, his family, and his team by getting cold feet back in March. Tom, please retire. You’ve done enough.

Categories: Sports

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