Allow me to pen this letter to Mr. Thomas Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots.
I know you said last week that there was no chance of you retiring. You ought to consider reassessing, not because you’re terrible as much as I just think it’s time.
You have six rings, and the odds of you getting a seventh, with all these young guns coming up, aren’t all that favorable. Did you see Patrick Mahomes when you played the Kansas City Chiefs? He’s going to be the next you. He may even be you and Peyton Manning combined. You’re going to come in second in that equation.
Ask John Elway and Manning about going out on top. They did it, and nobody undervalues their legacies one bit.
Go out a winner. Please don’t try to fight time. It would be tough to see you struggling through the twilight of your career, like Willie Mays in 1973, circling in vain under a fly ball. I’m sure you wouldn’t want that. Thing is, you don’t often know exactly when that moment of clarity — when it hits you that you’re not 22 and can’t sidestep a linebacker coming at you at full speed anymore — is going to happen. One day, you get hit with an avalanche and there you are. Buried.
Why risk it? You have six rings. That’s two more than Terry Bradshaw, your closest competitor.
It isn’t easy saying this. What you did this year was more impressive than anything you’ve done in your career because whether you want to admit it, you are already fighting time. Tom Brady in his prime doesn’t lose games in Detroit, Tennessee and Jacksonville. He doesn’t mismanage the clock and cost his team points in Miami, letting the Dolphins hang around and come up with that miraculous finish.
Still, you did what all the great ones do. You gathered yourself up and rallied to play your best football of the season when it really counted.
Thanks to you, your teammates weren’t home watching the Super Bowl. You got them there. That is what winners do. They may not always step to the front in September, but they always do in January and February.
You are a winner. You have consistently pulled your team out of the fire, winning games you had no business winning, and losing darned few that you had no business losing. Even the haters have to be impressed.
I know it drives you crazy when people start talking about how you’re declining, but I’m no football expert and I can see it. It’s just that this year, you staved off the worst of it and came to life at the right time. It only gets worse until the time comes that there’s no mojo left regardless of what time of the season it is.
Consider these facts too. You are going to be 42 this fall. Bill Belichick is pretty close to Marv Levy-hood (he who once said he wasn’t going to be another Marv Levy). Even though you won Sunday, your defense saved the day.
You were exposed, somewhat. You may have only been sacked once, but you got ripped to the ground a few times too. And I hope you buy David Andrews something nice for his next birthday after he recovered the fumble on that strip sack. Wade Phillips, the Rams’ defensive coordinator, confused you, and you had to rush some of your throws.
At times, you looked like the Joe Hardy who turned into middle-aged Joe Boyd before our very eyes at the end of “Damn Yankees.”
Rob Gronkowski has probably played his last game and Julian Edelman is too small to withstand much more pounding.
Sooner or later, this era will end. Right now, your legacy as the GOAT is secure. You’ve won more rings than Bradshaw, more than Montana, more than Aikman, and more than both Mannings combined. Merely enshrining you in Canton won’t be enough. They should open a separate wing dedicated to you.
But Tom, older may be better for one game, but youth rules as a rule. I understand your competitive spirit, and admire it. But I’d hate to see you get hurt and sustain lasting damage because you couldn’t get out of the way of that raging linebacker.
Go out on top. Enjoy life. Enjoy your family. Stay pretty so you and Gisele can continue to be a power couple. Go into broadcasting if you want. Or simply spend the next 10 years counting your money
Your legacy is intact. You have given us more than we ever had a right to expect.