A Legend Declines: Why Tom Brady Should Have Retired Earlier

Darren - February 2, 2023

A Legend Declines: Why Tom Brady Should Have Retired Earlier

Darren - February 2, 2023

Tom Brady brought his incredible 23-year career to a close on February 1, 2023, after his Tampa Bay Bucs lost a one-sided affair to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round. It was sad to see the legendary quarterback leave the sport he gave so much to. But Brady arguably hung on for too long and should have retired earlier. Some football fans think he tainted his legacy by playing for too long.

Today we’ll look at the reasons why Brady should have retired before he reached this point. It’s safe to say that 2022 wasn’t a good year for the former New England star. Brady is the most successful player in NFL history so it was a shame to see him leave with a whimper. Check out the reasons why he should have retired earlier below.


Visible Decline

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a 45-year-old man showed signs of a visible physical decline. However, this still shocked many fans because it felt like Father Time couldn’t touch Brady. In 2020, he had some of the best performances of his career despite his advancing years. Statistically, he was on par with his prime years as he helped the team to the Super Bowl.


In his final year, Brady finished under .500 for the first time in his career. Meanwhile, he became less effective as the likes of Geno Smith outperformed him on the field. Brady also became the most-sacked quarterback ever but that’s a testament to his longevity. In the end, he should have retired earlier because he looked old on the field (via Sports Illustrated).

Sporting News

Bad For The Bucs

Another problem was that the Bucs fell hostage to Brady’s whims. He initially retired after the 2021 season but he abruptly changed his mind. There was a lot of turnover in Tampa Bay as Bruce Arians stepped aside. It probably pleased Todd Bowles when the most successful quarterback ever came back.


But it was also tricky because it affected their succession plan. The Bucs became a middling team. They weren’t bad enough to get an early first-round pick but they weren’t top contenders anymore either. This reflected Brady’s devolution as a player and why he should have retired earlier (via DraftKings Nation).

CBS Sports

Rushed Return

Many people believe that Brady’s original retirement came too quickly. They think that he realized that he made a mistake. But there’s another way of looking at this because he didn’t give retirement a chance. Ordinary football fans don’t understand the turmoil that Brady must have faced because he was giving up his identity.

Sky Sports

However, he had a mega-money TV contract waiting for him and a glorious lifestyle ahead. Perhaps he should have retired earlier and tried to enjoy time away from the field. Maybe he would have realized that there are more important things than throwing a ball at 45 years old. He remains an icon but he arguably hung around for too long (via Tampa

Sporting News

Dismal Ending

One of the worst aspects of Brady’s 2023 retirement was that it was so innocuous. If he left the sport with a shiny new Super Bowl ring it would have been amazing. He effectively completed the sport at that point but he couldn’t bring himself to walk away. He played for another two seasons with successive declines.


It appeared that he didn’t even have a sad expression on his face as he walked off after the Cowboys smashed the Bucs. It appeared that he had already clocked out and didn’t care anymore. That’s a shame because the younger Brady would have been desperate to avenge this loss. But the fighting spirit had already dissipated (via People).

Philadelphia Inquirer

Arians’ Miscalculation

Bruce Arians explicitly told the Tampa Bay Times that he wouldn’t have quit if Brady stayed retired. “Had Tom not come back, I probably would still be coaching. I couldn’t give Todd that situation,” Arians said (via CBS Sports). Arians believed that he was doing his former coordinator a favor by leaving him with the veteran quarterback.

York Dispatch

However, there were questions about Bowles’ future after a dismal postseason campaign. He may have received more sympathy from the fans and media if he had Blaine Gabbert as his starter. But he had to put Brady on the team and the two didn’t gel well together. Brady should have retired earlier and allowed the team to regroup.

Sky Sports

Lack Of Receivers

Brady wasn’t garbage in 2022, but he wasn’t his usual brilliant self either. However, it didn’t help that he lost some important weapons from his Tampa Bay Super Bowl win. Rob Gronkowski retired again and left a gaping hole on the field. He was also one of Brady’s closest friends so it was a blow for him to leave the locker room (via Code Sports).

CBS Sports

Mike Evans is an elite player but there was too much pressure on his shoulders. Antonio Brown, for all of his personal flaws, was also a big loss. It became increasingly difficult for Brady to find his targets because they weren’t there. Meanwhile, he wasn’t operating at the same level as before. These two issues combined to create a bigger problem for the team.

US Weekly

Lonely Brady?

Everybody knows that Brady endured a lot of personal problems before the 2022 season. His former wife Gisele Bundchen filed for divorce and took their children with her. The Brazilian supermodel couldn’t believe that he was signing up for another year on the field. It meant that he had to adapt to life without his family around him.

Entertainment Tonight

This meant that Brady experienced life events without his children for the first time since he became a father. Check out what he said about celebrating the holidays (via Sportsrush). Brady revealed: “I’m gonna learn how to deal with Christmas Eve in a hotel, and I’m gonna have to learn how to deal with Christmas and Christmas night and still go out there and be a professional.”


Franchise Pressure

One of the reasons why Brady should have retired earlier was because it put the Bucs in a tricky position. If Brady was at the peak of his powers nobody would question his position at the franchise. But some people doubted his mentality and his physical abilities. However, he hamstrung Todd Bowles who put his succession plan on hold.


If Brady quit a year earlier, Tampa might have a better replacement. There was more chance of them trading for somebody like Aaron Rodgers or getting Russell Wilson as a free agent. However, there is a limited market in 2022 and their draft options aren’t great. It will be a lost year for the franchise as they bide their time.

Fox News

Dolphins Speculation

There is some speculation that Brady jumped the gun when he rescinded his first retirement. Many analysts think that he thought he was going to join the Miami Dolphins. Everybody knows that the Dolphins didn’t have much faith in Tua Tagovailoa. They considered trading for controversial star Deshaun Watson but also pursued Brady.

NBC Sports

In the end, this never materialized and Brady continued to play for the Buccaneers. In a way, it’s better that Brady didn’t line up for a third franchise. But he should have retired after he won his seventh ring. He has a good relationship with Mike McDaniel but there’s no guarantee it would have worked (via New York Post).

CBS Sports

Legacy Impact

Everybody loves a winner and there’s no doubt that Brady is one. But fans have short memories and bad news sells quickly. There are already morons saying that Brady was the NFL’s luckiest-ever player. This is a garbage take because he demonstrated unbelievable consistency to stay competitive for 23 years.

Elite Sports N.Y.

Nonetheless, he should have retired earlier so that he could walk away as a winner. Nobody wanted to see him crash out to the Cowboys in the Wild Card round. It didn’t help that Dallas had a horrific defeat the following week. Brady had a golden opportunity to bow out gracefully but he didn’t take it (via Stylecaster).


Evolving Game

Another issue is that the NFL is constantly evolving. Amazingly, Brady’s style has transcended multiple generations of quarterbacks. However, there is an increasing tendency for franchises to turn to dual-threat QBs. The likes of Lamar Jackson and even Daniel Jones have good arms but offer an elite rushing threat.


One of the reasons why Brady never lost a step is because he didn’t have the pace, to begin with. But his lack of mobility means that he’s inclined to throw more interceptions. That’s because the 45-year-old veteran didn’t want to endure hard sacks. Nobody can blame him but it didn’t help Tampa on the field (via CBS Sports).

Millions Waiting

Many aging sports stars play past their prime because they want to make one last payday. Philip Rivers left the Chargers in 2019 and joined the Colts because they gave him a guaranteed $20 million. Nobody can blame athletes for doing this, even if they’re not in their best condition. But Brady isn’t in this position because he has a decade of employment ahead.

Hello! Magazine

FOX Sports signed Brady to a 10-year contract worth $35 million per year after he retires. Brady will remain a regular feature on TV screens after his retirement. He should have retired earlier and enjoyed one of the cushiest TV deals ever. It’s bizarre that he put himself through the blender of professional football again (via New York Post).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lack Of Dignity

There was a lack of dignity in Brady’s final season because he suffered losses that he wouldn’t have earlier in his career. Fans witnessed a horrible defeat against the shambolic Panthers. Carolina shuffled quarterbacks and fired their coach in a wasted season. Somehow, Brady’s team contrived to lose to them.

AP News

Meanwhile, many fans couldn’t believe that he lost a duel with 2022’s ‘Mr. Irrelevant,’ San Francisco rookie Brock Purdy. This aged better than everybody expected because Purdy proved he was a good player, but it was embarrassing at the time. Brady was lucky that his division was terrible so the Bucs scraped their way into the postseason (via Tampa

Footwear News

Sabbatical Year

Some NFL experts think that Brady should have taken a sabbatical year in 2022 instead of rejoining the Bucs. This could have allowed him to deal with his personal life and refresh his mind. Then he could have had a last hurrah with another team like the Raiders, the Dolphins, or even his beloved 49ers (via Forbes).

Page Six

But he should have retired instead of rushing back for a dismal season. Now everybody will associate his final year with failure instead of going out in a blaze of glory. It wouldn’t matter if the Bucs crashed out of the playoffs if they played well. But they lost with a whimper against ‘America’s Team.’

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Too Much Change

Another reason why Brady should have retired earlier is that the Bucs entered another transitional period. Bruce Arians said that he quit because Brady came back. He did this as a compliment to the quarterback because he wanted Todd Bowles to inherit his talents. But Arians had already mentally checked out after winning the Super Bowl.


Meanwhile, there was a significant player turnover and this affected Brady. He lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement again as well as multiple receivers. This meant that he didn’t have many elite weapons apart from Mike Evans. It affected Brady’s game because he was trying to forge new on-field relationships but it didn’t always work (via Glamour).


Family Matters

Nobody knows what went on behind closed doors but Brady’s family impacted him in 2022. First, there was the trauma of losing them and a messy public divorce. It must have been agony to see his personal life make headlines across the world. Then he had the challenge of living without his children in the same house.

Us Weekly

This was a brutal transition for Brady and there’s no shame if it distracted him. Some people think that he should have retired early and spent more time with them. Maybe they wouldn’t have broken apart if he had. But it’s impossible to know and it may have been inevitable if they had irreconcilable differences (via People).


Hard To Watch

“I didn’t like watching that game,” Jordan Poyer said after the Cowboys defeated Tampa in the 2022 Wild Card Round. He continued: “It was hard to watch. You’re down 27-0 at halftime. He was defeated. You could see he was defeated. I still think he obviously knows everything about everything, the insides and out of football.”

The Bills’ star safety wasn’t the only player who felt this way about Brady’s final game. But it was also the story of each game in his final season. It’s never a good sign when an athlete’s fellow professionals call for their retirement. They know that it’s tough to walk away but they didn’t want to see him tarnish his legacy.


Nothing Left To Prove

Brady entered his final season with nothing left to prove. The seven-time Super Bowl winner is the most successful player ever. He knew that Tampa Bay wasn’t in a position to win again but he kept playing. Some people admire him because he didn’t pack up after claiming a ring. But there was no need for him to stick around.

Fox News

If he didn’t go home to San Francisco he should have retired earlier. The three-time MVP earned 15 Pro Bowl selections. Meanwhile, he was a five-time Super Bowl MVP as he played a crucial role in inspiring his teams to victory. Brady should have retired because he had completed football multiple times (via AP News).

The Athletic

Injury Worries

Nobody wants to see a 45-year-old Brady taking hard hits from the NFL’s toughest defensive ends. But he put himself in that position by continuing to play deep into his forties. Remember, the average length of an NFL career is less than four years. Brady took his tenure as a starter to the extreme and could pay a harsh price (via Sportscasting).

Boston Globe

The former New England star avoids the topic of concussions but admits he suffered several. This included multiple concussions in a single game which is not good for his long-term brain health. We hope that the future Hall of Famer will have a healthy post-playing life. But he should have retired earlier because there was nothing else for him to do.


Fairytale Ending

If Brady’s career was a train journey he fell asleep and missed his final stop. Instead of hanging up his cleats in 2023, he should have retired earlier. The legendary quarterback had his fairytale ending after the Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2021. It was the perfect time for him to walk away after he achieved his seventh victory.


It also proved that Brady could win without Bill Belichick. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay built the team to win with Brady at the center. It was only going downhill after this victory but Brady didn’t recognize this. Everybody would have thought it was perfect if he quit after he won his final Vince Lombardi Trophy (via WSN).