Tom Brady

Tom Brady walks away at the near-perfect moment

Why did we doubt for even a nano-second that Tom Brady would make the 2021-22 season his last?

You’d think that coming back from a 28-3 deficit to win a Super Bowl would forever fortify blind faith.

Brady has an uncanny acumen for making the right calls, particularly when the stakes are high. His health, and his legacy, cap that list.

His wife has made no secret about her desire to see him call it a career. His kids are reaching an age at which they could most use him as a life mentor.

Mostly, Gisele Bundchen feared that taking one snap too many could result in a debilitation that could make Brady’s post-football life a hellish nightmare. Considering the clip at which ruined post-football lives have piled up in recent years, that alone may have been enough to make him pull the plug.

That doesn’t make it an easy call. At age 44, having spent decades playing – and mostly excelling – at a pastime-turned-career, uneasiness will occasionally visit.

But in football terms, Brady has not only preserved his legacy but strengthened it.

Check Johnny Unitas’ career bio to see what can happen when missing the first off-ramp can tarnish the finish to a Hall of Fame career.

In 1973, Colts traded to Unitas to the San Diego Chargers. It took just five games for everyone, including Unitas, that he simply wasn’t Johnny Unitas anymore. He completed 34 of 76 passes, with three touchdowns and seven interceptions.

His long-term reputation as a quarterback warrior did not fade among those who saw him at his best. But it truly was painful seeing him wobble across the finish line wearing a Chargers uniform.

Brady’s legacy will remain gold-plated. Deflategate will gnaw away at the little minds who over-inflated a misdemeanor into a felony. Otherwise, it starts with playing in 10 Super Bowls and winning seven of them.

That his last ring came while quarterbacking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is unfortunate for Patriots fans. For Brady, it served as the ultimate slap to anyone, from Bill Belichick on down (present company included) who doubted he could control how his last NFL chapter would be written.

That the Bucs couldn’t win another Super Bowl with Brady revealed the team’s weaknesses. Brady himself had an MVP-level season.

It was not a perfect ending, but no one is perfect.

When discussions of football perfection take flight, Brady will be as close to the mountaintop as a man can be.

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