Just two months after his announcement that he would retire from the NFL after 22 seasons, Tom Brady has decided to return for next season.

It means Brady's final game in the sport will not be the dramatic Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams, in which he had led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a remarkable late comeback.

That display, at the end of a season in which Brady led the league in passing yards (5,316) and touchdown passes (43), had elements of everything that made him the greatest of all time.

Brady's decision to return also means there is even less prospect of any other QB coming close in the near future, however, as Stats Perform examines the stunning numbers behind his record-breaking career.

THE BREES BATTLE

Brady's seven Super Bowls counted for more than any other statistic ever could, but there was still intrigue around his battle with Drew Brees for a number of all-time passing marks.

Brees was drafted by the San Diego Chargers the year after Brady was selected by the New England Patriots, forever pitting the pair against one another.

But the long-time New Orleans Saints QB did not quite have Brady's longevity, retiring a year earlier, and allowed the gap between the two men's achievements to widen in 2021.

Brady leads the NFL with 84,520 passing yards, ahead of the second-placed Brees and his 80,358.

In terms of touchdown passes, it is a similar story. Brady's 624 top the charts, with Brees his nearest challenger on 571.

Brees also ranks second for seasons with 20 touchdown passes (17) and team points per game among quarterbacks with at least 100 starts (27.4). Brady (19 and 28.3) is the main man in both categories.

WINS, WINS, WINS

There is an enduring debate over whether wins are a quarterback statistic, but one would have a hard time arguing otherwise in Brady's case. Even after benefiting from Bill Belichick's coaching for 20 years, the veteran headed to Tampa and won right away.

Brady finished with 243 QB wins, meaning an incredible margin to second-placed pair Peyton Manning and Brett Favre on 186.

In fact, Brady has 69 wins in the month of December alone. In terms of a single month, Favre is next, with 52 wins also in December.

It should come as no surprise then that Brady has the best record among QBs with at least 100 starts, his .769 again comfortably ahead of the next-best performance, Roger Staubach's .746.

Of course, Brady has kept winning as each season has extended into the postseason.

He has 35 playoff wins, too many to compare to one rival QB alone. Among all NFL teams excluding Brady's Pats and Bucs, the Baltimore Ravens have won the most playoff games since 2000. They are on 16.

STILL GOING STRONG

Brady's 2021 performance made his decision to quit something of a shock. Even in his mid-40s, there had been no signs of slowing.

Last season was Brady's 19th different season with 3,000 passing yards – clear of Favre's 18 – and his fifth 4,000-yard season just since he turned 40.

Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, Staubach and Steve Young combined for three seasons with 4,000 passing yards for their careers.

Just two months after his announcement that he would retire from the NFL after 22 seasons, Tom Brady has decided to return for next season.

It means Brady's final game in the sport will not be the dramatic Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams, in which he had led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a remarkable late comeback.

That display, at the end of a season in which Brady led the league in passing yards (5,316) and touchdown passes (43), had elements of everything that made him the greatest of all time.

Brady's decision to return also means there is even less prospect of any other QB coming close in the near future, however, as Stats Perform examines the stunning numbers behind his record-breaking career.

THE BREES BATTLE

Brady's seven Super Bowls counted for more than any other statistic ever could, but there was still intrigue around his battle with Drew Brees for a number of all-time passing marks.

Brees was drafted by the San Diego Chargers the year after Brady was selected by the New England Patriots, forever pitting the pair against one another.

But the long-time New Orleans Saints QB did not quite have Brady's longevity, retiring a year earlier, and allowed the gap between the two men's achievements to widen in 2021.

Brady leads the NFL with 84,520 passing yards, ahead of the second-placed Brees and his 80,358.

In terms of touchdown passes, it is a similar story. Brady's 624 top the charts, with Brees his nearest challenger on 571.

Brees also ranks second for seasons with 20 touchdown passes (17) and team points per game among quarterbacks with at least 100 starts (27.4). Brady (19 and 28.3) is the main man in both categories.

WINS, WINS, WINS

There is an enduring debate over whether wins are a quarterback statistic, but one would have a hard time arguing otherwise in Brady's case. Even after benefiting from Bill Belichick's coaching for 20 years, the veteran headed to Tampa and won right away.

Brady finished with 243 QB wins, meaning an incredible margin to second-placed pair Peyton Manning and Brett Favre on 186.

In fact, Brady has 69 wins in the month of December alone. In terms of a single month, Favre is next, with 52 wins also in December.

It should come as no surprise then that Brady has the best record among QBs with at least 100 starts, his .769 again comfortably ahead of the next-best performance, Roger Staubach's .746.

Of course, Brady has kept winning as each season has extended into the postseason.

He has 35 playoff wins, too many to compare to one rival QB alone. Among all NFL teams excluding Brady's Pats and Bucs, the Baltimore Ravens have won the most playoff games since 2000. They are on 16.

STILL GOING STRONG

Brady's 2021 performance made his decision to quit something of a shock. Even in his mid-40s, there had been no signs of slowing.

Last season was Brady's 19th different season with 3,000 passing yards – clear of Favre's 18 – and his fifth 4,000-yard season just since he turned 40.

Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, Staubach and Steve Young combined for three seasons with 4,000 passing yards for their careers.

Seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady has sensationally reversed his decision to retire and will play on for a 23rd season in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The legendary quarterback, who will turn 45 in August, had announced his retirement in early February after a decorated career that included five Super Bowl MVP awards.

But Brady announced the shock decision to change his mind on Twitter on Sunday, stating: "These past two months I've realised my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it's not now.

"I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business LFG."

Cristiano Ronaldo was back in the Manchester United team to face Tottenham on Saturday after missing the derby drubbing, but there was no Bruno Fernandes.

The absence of Ronaldo for last Sunday's 4-1 defeat to Manchester City sparked a fresh wave of speculation about the 37-year-old's United future.

It was put down to a hip problem by interim manager Ralf Rangnick, but former United captain Roy Keane was among those who questioned whether that told the full story.

Ronaldo's Manchester derby absence came after a run of one goal and zero assists in 10 games for United in all competitions this calendar year. That compares to 12 goals and three assists in his opening 19 games upon returning to United from Juventus at the end of August.

He was restored for the visit of Spurs, but Portuguese compatriot Fernandes was surprisingly not involved, three days before United tackle Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie.

Rangnick said: "Bruno is ill, unfortunately. He couldn't train yesterday and is therefore not available for the game. Hopefully, he will be back for Tuesday but, today, he is out."

NFL legend Tom Brady, a friend of Tottenham striker Harry Kane, was at Old Trafford for the game.

There was a United start for Marcus Rashford, whose own future has been cast into doubt by reports suggesting he could seek a move at the end of the season. He replaced Anthony Elanga, while Edinson Cavani was named on the bench after recent fitness worries.

Goalkeeper David De Gea featured for the home side after a COVID-19 false positive, while Raphael Varane was back from a coronavirus absence to start alongside Harry Maguire in central defence.

Rangnick told MUTV: "We had a false positive test on David De Gea last night. We then decided to have a second test that was negative and then a PCR test that was negative again, and that's why we can play him after all."

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move into a new era without Tom Brady, but they have made it clear their door remains open if he wishes to come out of retirement.

Brady called time on a remarkable 22-season NFL career, which saw him win a record seven Super Bowl titles, last month.

He spent the final two years of his career with the Bucs, leading them glory in Super Bowl LV at the end of the 2020 campaign.

Brady has since insisted he is "at peace" with his decision but would "never say never" regarding a potential return.

Head coach Bruce Arians previously said it would be a shock if Brady reversed his decision, but the Bucs are more than willing to welcome him back should he do so.

"That door is never closed. Whenever Tom wants back, he's back," said Arians on Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

General manager Jason Licht echoed those sentiments, saying: "I think with a Tom Brady, I personally, never want to completely close the door.

"Now, I don't have any information that suggests that he is going to come back. I'm very good friends with him. We talk, [but] we haven't talked about that.

"I don't want to apply any pressure in that regard right now. But, he's Tom Brady. If a Tom Brady wants to come back, we'd welcome him back."

The Bucs still own Brady's rights even though he is retired and would have to agree to a trade if Brady wanted to return and play elsewhere.

But Arians ruled out that possibility, describing letting Brady play for another team as "bad business".

Asked how they will approach replacing Brady, Arians replied: "Well, we addressed it last year. We drafted Kyle Trask [in the second round] for a reason.

"He fits everything we want to do [at the] quarterback [position]. I really, really liked what I saw for a year, so I doubt drafting is an option.

"For all the other guys, it's going to be a trade. Well, you don't trade by yourself – you've got to have a partner, so that could be out of the question."

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians was among those to pay tribute to Ali Marpet after the guard announced his NFL retirement.

Marpet has spent seven seasons with the Bucs since being drafted in the second round in 2015.

The 28-year-old helped to protect Tom Brady en route to Super Bowl LV glory in the 2020 season and became one of the league's top offensive linemen, but he will now follow the veteran quarterback into retirement.

"I can't say enough about what Ali has meant to our team over the three seasons since my arrival," said Arians, whose roster will have a different look in 2022.

"He has been the consummate professional and has been a rock for us in the interior of our offensive line.

"We will miss him on the field and in the locker room, but I am happy he gets to go out as a Super Bowl champion and a Pro Bowler.

"It is never easy saying goodbye to a player who has meant so much to our success, but I support and respect his decision and wish him a great life after football."

Marpet made the decision after a 2021 season that was the best of his career to date and saw him named to a first Pro Bowl.

"It has been one of my greatest professional thrills to see his rapid ascension from a small college standout into one of the NFL's best all-around offensive linemen," added Bucs general manager Jason Licht.

Marpet announced his decision in an Instagram post on Sunday.

"After seven formidable years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I've come to the decision to retire from the game that has given me so much," he wrote.

"This organization and the people surrounding it have helped not only fulfill a dream, but also helped build me into the person I am today. 

"I've made Tampa Bay my home and I look forward to serving this community in the coming years. 

"To the coaches and teammates, family and friends, an Instagram post simply can't express the profound impact you've had on me. I'm eternally grateful. Thank you Tampa Bay."

Bruce Arians is not expecting Tom Brady to reverse his decision to retire from the NFL.

Brady called time on a stunning 22-season career in the league last month following the end of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' title defence.

The only player to win seven Super Bowl titles, Brady has nothing left to prove, but has not ruled out a return to the sport he has dominated.

"I'm just going to take things as they come," Brady recently told Jim Gray on the "Let's Go!" podcast. "I think that's the best way to put it, and you never say never.

"At the same time, I feel very good about my decision. I don't know how I'll feel six months from now."

The Buccaneers still own Brady's rights, so a decision to come out of retirement would mean they would need to trade or release him if he did not wish to play for the team he joined after 20 seasons with the New England Patriots.

Head coach Arians, though, is not anticipating such a scenario, telling the Tampa Bay Times: "That would shock me [Brady playing in 2022].

"And he let us know in time to do the free agency like we've done in the past, that's why I don't see it happening."

Arians also rejected claims from former NFL player Rich Ohrnberger that his relationship with Brady deteriorated last year, taking particular issue with the detail that Arians would remove things from a gameplan put together by Brady and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich while the head coach rehabbed his Achilles in the morning.

"It seems like there's one [story] every day now,’" Arians added. "Everybody is speculating he's going somewhere else.

"That don't bother me. This other b*******, the relationship thing, that's so far-fetched.

"I mean, that's such b*******. That's what pisses me off. I guess probably Byron could corroborate this, too

"First of all, I don't rehab my Achilles in the morning. I will go over the gameplans and add things, but I don't delete anything. I don't have to because they do such a good job.

"I'll see some things. Add some things. It's an awesome collaboration, one of the best I've ever been around."

Tom Brady is at peace with his decision retire after 22 seasons in the NFL but the legendary quarterback will "never say never" about the possibility of a sensational comeback.

The 44-year-old,who became the first man to be named Super Bowl MVP with two different franchises when winning Super Bowl LV with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year, announced his retirement from the sport last week in the aftermath of the Bucs' 30-27 playoff defeat to the LA Rams.

Speaking publicly for the first time after announcing his intention to quit the sport, Brady said he is looking forward to challenges outside of football even if the prospect of a return will never be completely off the table.

"I'm just going to take things as they come," Brady told Jim Gray on the "Let's Go!" podcast. "I think that's the best way to put it, and you never say never.

"At the same time, I feel very good about my decision. I don't know how I'll feel six months from now.

"I try to make the best possible decision I can in the moment. And, again, I don't think it's about looking to reverse course. I'm definitely not looking to do that. 

"But at the same time, I think you have to be realistic and you never know what challenges there are going to be in life. I loved playing, [but] I'm looking forward to doing things other than playing."

Brady, who led the New England Patriots to 17 division titles between 2000 and 2019, cited a desire to spend more time with his family as a major factor in his decision to retire. 

"Everything certainly comes at a cost," he said. "The cost is, 'what am I missing out on in other aspects of my life?' 

"As you get older, you experience things outside of the sport that demand the level of attention and energy that football has always gotten, and it's time for me to commit to those types of things.

"I felt like it was just the right time to do it.

"There's a time and a place for everything. I've had an amazing time, and I'm really excited for what's ahead. I don't know what that means or where it will take me, but I know that it'll be fun and exciting, and I'm going to make the most of whatever opportunities present themselves."

Brady, who would remain under contact with the Bucs for the 2022 season if he did opt to reverse his retirement decision, led the NFL for both passing yards and passing touchdowns in 2021's regular season, and maintained his record of never experiencing a losing season in his career.

LeBron James was left stunned by Tom Brady's decision to bring his storied NFL career to an end this week, commenting that "a small piece of me definitely left".

After a few days of speculation, Brady announced on Tuesday that he was calling time on his long career at the age of 44.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback decided he could no longer commit himself 100 per cent to the sport.

Brady's retirement saw tributes pour in from all over the sporting world, such has been his impact on the NFL – he holds the record for the most Super Bowl wins (seven) and Super Bowl MVP awards (five).

James returned to NBA action on Saturday after a five-game absence, starring with a triple-double as the Los Angeles Lakers sealed an overtime 122-115 win over the New York Knicks, and that gave him the opportunity to join the praise for Brady.

The four-time NBA MVP was almost emotional in response to Brady's retirement, lauding him as one of his inspirations.

"I personally was just so in shock when I saw it," he said post-game. "I was one of the ones who didn't say anything when the first, initial announcement came out. I didn't retweet anything, say anything because I wanted to hear it come from him. Then when he came out with his announcement, I was like… You know?

"As a guy who's kind of been my motivation factor over the last few years, seeing what he's able to do at his age and always kind of being a leader of a team.

"Even at his age, people still gravitate towards him and gravitate towards his energy, and how he prepares and things of that nature.

"So, a small piece of me definitely left when Brady decided to retire, that's for sure."

Tom Brady was restored to the 99 Club on the Madden NFL video game after announcing his retirement. 

After 22 seasons in the league during which he won seven Super Bowls and set a new record for all-time passing yards, the 44-year-old quarterback confirmed he would not return to the field for the 2022 season. 

EA Sports, the creators of Madden, ensured Brady finishes his career with the highest overall rating possible on the game. He had been rated 97 this year.

"Celebrate 22 years of playing Madden with the GOAT," the game's official Twitter account posted. "Welcome back to the #99Club: @TomBrady." 

Brady led the NFL with 5,316 passing yards and 43 passing touchdowns this season but called time on his career following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round. 

The veteran QB said he was ready "to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention" in a lengthy statement confirming his decision on Tuesday. 

Tom Brady's retirement will not be a relief to his NFL rivals, who enjoyed the challenge of going against him, according to former team-mate Eric Rowe.

Brady announced his retirement on Tuesday, bringing down the curtain on a 22-season career that saw him win an unprecedented seven Super Bowl titles, winning six with the New England Patriots and a seventh during his first of two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He won two of those alongside Miami Dolphins safety Rowe, who spent three seasons with the Patriots.

Given Brady's two decades of dominance, it may be assumed his opponents will be glad to see the back of a player who has consistently been a thorn in the side of rival teams trying to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

However, Rowe sees it differently, believing most welcomed the opportunity to face Brady.

"People want to go against him. They want, you know, obviously, we're all competitive, like, so when you get a chance to go against like, the best you want to," Rowe told Stats Perform. 

"It's kind of like, comparing your skills of you know, how good you really are, compared to him, you know?

"Every year everyone's like, 'Man, if I can get interception off Tom Brady. Whoa, like, that's, you know, it's like our pinnacle of your career.' So, you know, that is gone.

"It's kind of like, man, I want a chance to go against him, you know."

Asked if Rowe and the Dolphins did anything differently when going against Brady, he replied: "It was definitely in our head safety-wise. Having a disguise trying to hide our coverage from them.

"It was definitely a emphasis of the week of hiding the coverage. Don't just give it to him, because if you give it to him, he's gonna pick you apart."

Tom Brady deserves to be considered among sporting greats such as Michael Jordan, Rafael Nadal and LeBron James, according to his former New England Patriots team-mate Eric Rowe.

The quarterback announced his retirement on Tuesday after a 22-year career that saw him win an unprecedented seven Super Bowl titles, six with the Patriots and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rowe played alongside Brady at Gillette Stadium for three seasons between 2016 and 2019, and said the 44-year-old belongs in the conversation with the great sporting icons.

"Oh, man, he's right there," Rowe said in an exclusive interview with Stats Perform.

"You say Serena [Williams], Nadal, you could say Michael Jordan, you could say LeBron [James] you could say Kobe [Bryant], you're definitely saying Tom Brady. He's definitely in that little name bucket."

Rowe, now at the Miami Dolphins, was also asked what words come to mind when it comes to Brady, with the first unsurprisingly being "championships", with the safety clarifying: "because he's won so many in our era, at least in my era.

"Then I think just 'leadership'. One of the greatest players, he had a lot of, I wouldn't say heat, but people kind of question, 'he has been at the Patriots for some 20 odd years, and then he can't do it anywhere else'.

"He went to another team and brought them a championship. So that just shows how much leadership he has within himself."

Rowe also outlined what set Brady apart from the rest and what his legacy will mean for the NFL.

"Yeah, his legacy. Obviously, his name is going to live on forever. Just as players, you know who way back then, how their name still comes around today.

"And people, even kids [who] obviously didn't grow up watching them know who they are, so his name, 20, 30 years from now [people will say] 'oh, yeah, Tom Brady'.

"You know, still one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, so his legacy's gonna live on."

Brady retires with 243 QB wins, meaning an incredible margin to second-placed pair Peyton Manning and Brett Favre on 186.

In fact, Brady has 69 wins in the month of December alone. In terms of a single month, Favre is next, with 52 wins also in December.

Brady has the best record among QBs with at least 100 starts, his .769 again comfortably ahead of the next-best performance, Roger Staubach's .746.

The 2021 season was Brady's 19th different campaign with 3,000 passing yards – clear of Favre's 18 – and his fifth 4,000-yard season just since he turned 40.

Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, Staubach and Steve Young combined for three seasons with 4,000 passing yards for their careers.

Roger Goodell's description of Tom Brady on Tuesday as merely "one of the greatest to ever play in the NFL" felt a little generous to the competition. 

In the period of claim and counter-claim between reports of his retirement on Saturday and confirmation on Tuesday, the verdict had been cast – not that it was ever in doubt. 

Among others, Patrick Mahomes, better placed than most to consider quality quarterback play, told ESPN: "His career is one of a kind. That's why he's the GOAT." 

There is no dispute, no debate: Brady is the greatest. 

The 44-year-old leads the way by most metrics, including the most important one, with an unprecedented seven Super Bowl championships. 

Yet the stunning nature of some of those successes mean the emotional argument in Brady's favour is as convincing as the statistical one. 

Unmoved by his NFL-record 84,520 passing yards? Try the Super Bowl LI comeback against the Atlanta Falcons. 

This career had it all, and most dissenting voices had long since disappeared by the time Brady arrived in Tampa in 2020 "as the greatest football player of all time", as Bruce Arians put it. He still had another title in him. 

But Brady has not just set the standard in the NFL for the past 22 years; his achievements are surely unmatched across the entire sporting world. 

BEATING THE BEST

Wrestling with past legacies is never easy for an elite sports star. Even as the best of their generation, comparisons will be drawn with those who have gone before. 

In the case of LeBron James in the NBA, Michael Jordan casts a long shadow. 

James may now widely be considered the second-greatest player in the history of the league, but the gap to the number one spot scarcely seems to be closing, even now with titles and Finals MVP recognition on three different teams – and his own Space Jam sequel. 

Elsewhere, Formula One's Lewis Hamilton has done what James could not with Jordan in matching Michael Schumacher's haul of titles. 

But when Hamilton closed in on a record-breaking eighth drivers' championship in 2021, rival Sebastian Vettel scoffed: "Even if Lewis wins, to me Michael is still the greatest. Lewis can win one more, two more, three more, five more championships, but it doesn't change anything for me." 

The combination of being unable to see two athletes side by side and having memories tinged with nostalgia makes life hard on the modern great. 

For Brady, Joe Montana was the closest thing to a Jordan or Schumacher figure at quarterback. 

Although Montana ranked sixth for all-time passing yards – Dan Marino, the 20th century's passing yards leader, never won a title – his four Super Bowls had matched Terry Bradshaw's benchmark and were still fresh enough in the memory in 2000, the last coming in the 1989 season. 

Yet that was a gap Brady was swiftly able to bridge. By August 2005, with three rings already in his collection, the headline of a GQ profile asked if the Patriots passer was "the best there ever was". 

At 27, 10 years younger than James and Hamilton are now, there appeared little doubt Brady would leave Marino behind. 

TOP OF HIS CLASS

Perhaps Brady benefited from the standard of the competition. His career overlapped with Brett Favre at the start, Mahomes at the end and met with Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers somewhere around the middle, all of them forcing him to raise his game. 

But such depth of talent can so easily muddy the waters. 

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have matched each other stride for stride, meaning there remains no consensus pick for football's 'GOAT'. Both merit the position, yet neither have dominated an era like Pele or Diego Maradona. 

In tennis, the tussle is even more intense. Until Rafael Nadal's Australian Open triumph on Sunday, three men were tied on a record 20 grand slam titles. 

Injuries to Roger Federer and coronavirus complications with Novak Djokovic may be enough to keep Nadal at the summit, but personal preference dictates the all-time rankings when the margins are so fine. 

Again, however, Brady came through. None of those modern-day rivals have won three Super Bowls, let alone matching Montana's four or Brady's staggering seven. 

Mahomes had appeared the most likely to challenge that mark in the years to come, but four seasons as a starter have now yielded one title. At the same point, Brady had three and that GQ headline. 

"To win that many Super Bowls and win that many games, it's hard," Mahomes said after losing Sunday's AFC Championship Game. "I understand that. The years that I've had, I've been close a lot.  

"I've only been there twice, and I've only won once. I understand it takes a special player ... for that to happen." 

In Joe Burrow, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert, Mahomes will not have it easy going forward either – an exciting new generation guarding Brady's legacy, not that he could not have done it himself had he chosen to play on. 

Brady, in the regular season and playoffs, holds a 3-2 record against Mahomes, 4-0 against Allen and 1-0 against Herbert. He never faced Burrow, potentially the next Super Bowl-winning QB. 

Instead, the perennial winner departs not as a champion – he has been that enough times – but as undoubtedly the best player his sport has ever seen. A rare phenomenon indeed. 

Tom Brady was hailed as the ultimate team player by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft after the superstar quarterback confirmed his retirement.

Mention of the Patriots was conspicuously absent from Brady's long retirement note, despite the 44-year-old winning six Super Bowls with the team.

He saw out the final two years of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, adding another Super Bowl ring to achieve an unprecedented haul.

Regardless of whether Brady deliberately left the Patriots out of his farewell note, there remains obvious affection from Kraft towards the team's former main man, and Brady later expressed his gratitude for Kraft's message on social media.

Together with coach Bill Belichick, Brady helped New England become the most successful team in the NFL since the turn of the century.

Kraft, chairman and CEO of the Patriots, said: "Words cannot describe the feelings I have for Tom Brady, nor adequately express the gratitude my family, the New England Patriots and our fans have for Tom for all he did during his career. A generation of football fans have grown up knowing only an NFL in which Tom Brady dominated.

"He retires with nearly every NFL career passing record, yet the only one that ever mattered to him was the team's win-loss record. In his 20 years as a starter his teams qualified for the playoffs 19 times. He led his teams to 10 Super Bowls, winning an NFL-record seven championships.

"In a team sport like football, it is rare to see an individual have such a dominant impact on a team's success.

"You didn't have to be a Patriots fan to respect and appreciate his competitiveness, determination and will to win that fuelled his success. As a fan of football, it was a privilege to watch. As a Patriots fan, it was a dream come true.

"I have the greatest respect for Tom personally and always will. His humility, coupled with his drive and ambition, truly made him special. I will always feel a close bond to him and will always consider him an extension of my immediate family."

Brady later expressed his appreciation on Twitter, simply writing: "Thank you Patriots Nation. I'm beyond grateful. Love you all."

Tom Brady has called time on his NFL career after 22 seasons, at the age of 44.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback officially announced his decision on Tuesday after days of speculation, with the news initially having been reported on Saturday.

It means Brady's final game in the sport was the dramatic Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams, in which he had led the Bucs in a remarkable late comeback.

That display, at the end of a season in which Brady led the league in passing yards (5,316) and touchdown passes (43), had elements of everything that made him the greatest of all time.

Brady's legacy has long been unmatched but will not now be added to, as he watches the 2022 season from his sofa.

There is little prospect of any other QB coming close in the near future, however, as Stats Perform examines the stunning numbers behind his record-breaking career.

THE BREES BATTLE

Brady's seven Super Bowls counted for more than any other statistic ever could, but there was still intrigue around his battle with Drew Brees for a number of all-time passing marks.

Brees was drafted by the San Diego Chargers the year after Brady was selected by the New England Patriots, forever pitting the pair against one another.

But the long-time New Orleans Saints QB did not quite have Brady's longevity, retiring a year earlier, and allowed the gap between the two men's achievements to widen in 2021.

Brady leads the NFL with 84,520 passing yards, ahead of the second-placed Brees and his 80,358.

In terms of touchdown passes, it is a similar story. Brady's 624 top the charts, with Brees his nearest challenger on 571.

Brees also ranks second for seasons with 20 touchdown passes (17) and team points per game among quarterbacks with at least 100 starts (27.4). Brady (19 and 28.3) is the main man in both categories.

WINS, WINS, WINS

There is an enduring debate over whether wins are a quarterback statistic, but one would have a hard time arguing otherwise in Brady's case. Even after benefiting from Bill Belichick's coaching for 20 years, the veteran headed to Tampa and won right away.

Brady finishes with 243 QB wins, meaning an incredible margin to second-placed pair Peyton Manning and Brett Favre on 186.

In fact, Brady has 69 wins in the month of December alone. In terms of a single month, Favre is next, with 52 wins also in December.

It should come as no surprise then that Brady has the best record among QBs with at least 100 starts, his .769 again comfortably ahead of the next-best performance, Roger Staubach's .746.

Of course, Brady has kept winning as each season has extended into the postseason.

He has 35 playoff wins, too many to compare to one rival QB alone. Among all NFL teams excluding Brady's Pats and Bucs, the Baltimore Ravens have won the most playoff games since 2000. They are on 16.

STILL GOING STRONG

Brady's 2021 performance made his decision to quit at this stage something of a shock. Even in his mid-40s, there have been no signs of slowing.

This was Brady's 19th different season with 3,000 passing yards – clear of Favre's 18 – and his fifth 4,000-yard season just since he turned 40.

Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, Staubach and Steve Young combined for three seasons with 4,000 passing yards for their careers.

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