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."

Washington's NFL franchise finally has its new nickname, the Commanders.

Having played the last two seasons under the guise of the Washington Football Team, the name change was confirmed on Wednesday.

Washington abandoned their old moniker, widely viewed as racially insensitive to Native Americans, in July 2020.

That followed significant pressure in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent widespread protests, the name change coming about after a group of 87 investment firms and shareholders signed three separate letters to Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo threatening to end relationships with the team unless the old name was dropped.

FedEx, which sponsors the team's stadium, requested that action be taken by the franchise, and a review began the following day that ended with the decision to drop the name and seek a new one.

That name was announced on social media with a video featuring stars Chase Young and Terry McLaurin along with franchise legend Joe Theismann, who led Washington to a first Super Bowl title in the 1982 season.

"As an organisation, we are excited to rally and rise together as one under our new identity while paying homage to our local roots and what it means to represent the nation's capital," said co-owner and co-CEO Dan Snyder.

"As we kick-off our 90th season, it is important for our organisation and fans to pay tribute to our past traditions, history, legacy and the greats that came before us.

"We continue to honor and represent the burgundy and gold while forging a pathway to a new era in Washington.

"Today may mark the first day for the Washington Commanders, but we are and always will be Washington."

Tom Brady has been confirmed as one of the nominees for Sportsman of the Year at the 2022 Laureus World Sports Awards, less than 24 hours after announcing his retirement from the NFL.

The seven-time Super Bowl winner is nominated along with tennis star Novak Djokovic, Formula One world champion Max Verstappen, long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge, swimmer Caeleb Dressel and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, the only man on the list who was also nominated for last year's award, which was won by Rafael Nadal.

Ash Barty, who recently won the Australian Open in front of a raucous home crowd, is among the nominees for Sportswoman of the Year, along with sprinters Allyson Felix and Elaine Thompson-Herah, swimmers Katie Ledecky and Emma McKeon, and Ballon d'Or and FIFA Best award winner Alexia Putellas.

Last year's award was won by tennis star Naomi Osaka.

Tennis is also represented well in the nominees for Breakthrough of the Year, with US Open champions Daniil Medvedev and Emma Raducanu making the shortlist, along with javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, footballer Pedri, swimmer Ariarne Titmus and triple jumper Yulimar Rojas.

The Team of the Year award will be contested by three football teams in the Argentina and Italy men's national sides and Barcelona Women, as well as NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks.

Gymnast Simone Biles has been nominated for Comeback of the Year, while para-cyclist Dame Sarah Storey is on the shortlist for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.

The nominees were selected by a panel of 1300 sports journalists, and the winners will be announced in April following a vote by the 71 Members of the Laureus World Sports Academy.

Full list of nominees

Sportsman of the Year: Tom Brady (American football), Novak Djokovic (tennis), Caeleb Dressel (swimming), Eliud Kipchoge (athletics), Robert Lewandowski (football), Max Verstappen (motor racing)

Sportswoman of the Year: Ash Barty (tennis), Allyson Felix, (athletics), Katie Ledecky (swimming), Emma McKeon (swimming), Alexia Putellas (football), Elaine Thompson-Herah (athletics)

Breakthrough of the Year: Neeraj Chopra (athletics), Daniil Medvedev (tennis), Pedri (football), Emma Raducanu (tennis), Yulimar Rojas (athletics), Ariarne Titmus (swimming)

Team of the Year: Argentina men's national football team, Barcelona Women's football team, Italy men's national football team, Milwaukee Bucks (basketball)

Comeback of the Year: Simone Biles (gymnastics), Sky Brown (skateboarding), Mark Cavendish (cycling), Tom Daley (diving), Marc Marquez (motor cycling), Annemiek van Vleuten (cycling)

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Diede De Groot (wheelchair tennis), Marcel Hug (wheelchair athletics), Shingo Kunieda (wheelchair tennis), Jetze Plat (para cycling / para triathlon), Susana Rodríguez (para triathlon), Sarah Storey (para cycling)

World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Italo Ferreira (surfing), Alberto Gines (climbing), Yuto Horigome (skateboarding), Carissa Moore (surfing), Momiji Nishiya (skateboarding), Bethany Shriever (BMX)

Sport for Good Award: Ich will da rauf! (climbing), Juca Pe Cagna (multisport), Kick 4 Life (football), Lost Boyz Inc. (baseball), Monkey Magic (climbing)

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.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo expects to be traded and wants to join a contender.

The 30-year-old QB's future at the 49ers has been a hot topic of speculation following the side's 20-17 NFC Championship Game defeat to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan declined to discuss Garoppolo's future in the aftermath of their playoffs exit, but it is widely expected Garoppolo will leave the 49ers this offseason with 2021 Draft third pick Trey Lance coming through.

Garoppolo, who has been with the 49ers since 2017, admitted he expects to leave the franchise this offseason.

"I was talking to [49ers general manager] John [Lynch] yesterday about finding the right destination and whatever the future holds, just doing it the right way," Garoppolo said during a Zoom news conference on Tuesday.

"I've got a long career ahead of me. I'm excited about it. I'm excited about the opportunities to come. I just want to go to a place where they want to win.

"That's really what I'm in this game for. I'm here to play football, win football games and as long as I've got that and good people around me, I think the rest will take care of itself."

Garoppolo reinforced his likely 49ers' exit when he signed off from the Zoom call by addressing the side's fans.

"It's been a hell of a ride," Garoppolo said. "I love you guys. See ya."

Garoppolo, who played with a torn ligament in his right thumb for the final five games of the 49ers season, threw 3,810 yards with a 68.3 per cent completing rate for 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season.

"As far as the whole trade situation, John has been very clear with it," Garoppolo said. "I think they're trying to do the best for me, I'm trying to do the best for them and we're working together.

"We haven't really made too much progress on it but I think things will start happening here pretty quickly."

On his thumb injury, Garoppolo added: "If I can avoid surgery, that's really what I'm hoping for but we'll see."

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has launched a class action lawsuit, alleging the NFL is rife with racism and has a "disingenuous commitment to social equity".

Flores is suing the league along with teams at whose hands he alleges he has personally experienced racism, naming the Dolphins along with the New York Giants and Denver Broncos as defendants, together with "John Doe Teams 1 through 29".

The suit, filed at the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, demands a jury trial. The NFL said Flores' claims "are without merit", saying it would put up a defence. The three teams named by Flores also rejected his allegations.

Flores claims he inadvertently learned he had failed to get the Giants head coach job last week, even before his interview took place.

The suit contains screen grabs of an alleged text message conversation between New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Flores, in which Belichick congratulates Flores on what he believes is an impending appointment, only to realise he was messaging the wrong person, having intended to contact Brian Daboll, who got the Giants job.

During the text exchange, Flores questioned whether Belichick had messaged the correct person, with the Patriots coach having indicated he had inside knowledge on who would land the job. According to the lawsuit's contents, Belichick at this point realised his error and apologised to Flores, who worked for him for 10 years with the Patriots.

The NFL has a 'Rooney Rule' in place. It requires all teams seeking a new head coach "to interview at least one or more diverse candidates", and the lawsuit alleges on this occasion the Giants interview was "a sham" that "humiliated" Flores.

A spokesman for the Giants, Pat Hanlon, was quoted by the New York Times on Tuesday as saying the team was "confident with the process that resulted in the hiring of Brian Daboll", adding that Flores was "in the conversation to be our head coach until the eleventh hour".

It is also alleged in the lawsuit that Flores "was interviewed only because of the Rooney Rule" by the Broncos in 2019 and was never intended to be "a legitimate candidate", while also criticising the interview board.

The Broncos have described the various claims against the franchise as "blatantly false" and "baseless and disparaging claims".

A number of allegations are made in the suit about Flores' time with the Dolphins, which came to an end only last month.

The Dolphins responded by saying they "vehemently deny any allegations of racial discrimination and are proud of the diversity and inclusion throughout our organisation".

The class action alleges: "The NFL remains rife with racism, particularly when it comes to the hiring and retention of black head coaches, coordinators and general managers. Over the years, the NFL and its 32-member organisations have been given every chance to do the right thing.

"Rules have been implemented, promises made – but nothing has changed. In fact, the racial discrimination has only been made worse by the NFL's disingenuous commitment to social equity."

It also contains a series of allegations that it points to as evidence the NFL as a whole has a racism problem when it comes to the hiring of black individuals, alleging it is "racially segregated and is managed much like a plantation".

In response, the NFL said: ​"The NFL and our clubs are deeply committed to ensuring equitable employment practices and continue to make progress in providing equitable opportunities throughout our organisations.

"Diversity is core to everything we do, and there are few issues on which our clubs and our internal leadership team spend more time. We will defend against these claims, which are without merit."

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.

Tom Brady was saluted for "an absolutely incredible" career by Peyton Manning as the seven-time Super Bowl winner ended doubts by confirming his retirement.

Reports of Brady being ready to quit at the weekend were disputed – he was "still going through the process" on Monday – but they proved to be accurate as the 44-year-old declared on Tuesday he has played his final game.

Manning, himself one of the greatest quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen, doffed his cap to superstar Brady as he remembered a rival with whom he shared a firm comradeship.

"Congratulations to my friend Tom on an unbelievable football career," Manning said.

"To do it as long as he did, at the highest of levels is absolutely incredible. It was an honour and a privilege to compete against him on the field, and I truly appreciate his friendship off the field.

"I have always admired and respected his competitiveness, his dedication, his discipline, and his commitment to being the best. I wish him the best in his next chapter. Congratulations again, pal!"

Manning, one year Brady's senior, retired in 2016 after winning two Super Bowls, one each with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. He has since been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and it will be Brady's turn in five years' time, when he becomes eligible.

Brady spent two years with the Bucs to round off his career, having won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.

A seventh ring arrived in season one in Tampa, but Brady could not guide Bruce Arians' team to another Super Bowl this time around.

Head coach Arians expressed his sorrow that Brady felt it was now time to go.

Arians said: "Tom joined us as the greatest football player of all time, and he quickly showed everyone in our organisation what that meant.

"He set a standard and helped create a culture that took our team to the mountaintop.

"It has been an honour to be his head coach for the past two seasons. I wish it didn't have to end, but few players have the opportunity to leave the game on their own terms. Even fewer can do it while playing at an elite level. Tom is the exception.

"I have a deep appreciation and respect for what he has done for our franchise, and I wish him and his family nothing but the best in this chapter of life after football."

The Patriots, who were not directly thanked in a long retirement note from Brady, remarked on his retirement with a fond farewell

In a statement on Instagram, the Patriots said: "It was quite the ride. Thank you and congratulations, @tombrady."

Brady's warm words for the Bucs spoke of his enjoyment of his two-year ride into the sunset.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht, who previously worked for the Patriots, said: "I have had the distinct pleasure of being with Tom at both the beginning and end of his incredible NFL career. These past two seasons, I had the privilege to see up close the way he operates and the impact he has on a franchise – from coaches to players to staff.

"He set a standard for accountability, work ethic and performance that resonated through our building and in our locker room. His list of career accomplishments speaks for itself, but to finish a 22-year career while still performing at his peak was nothing short of extraordinary."

Tom Brady "set a standard that players will chase for years" during his storied NFL career that commissioner Roger Goodell paid tribute to following the legendary quarterback's retirement.

An ESPN report on Saturday revealed Brady was set to bring his career to a close after 22 seasons in the NFL.

Those claims were soon disputed, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar "still going through the process" on Monday as he discussed his future.

But Tuesday brought an official statement from the 44-year-old on his Instagram page.

Brady commented that the sport required "100 per cent competitive commitment" but he could no longer live up to that expectation, choosing instead to focus "time and energy on other things that require my attention".

His retirement sees the NFL lose an icon and star who has thrilled audiences for nearly quarter of a century, with his seven Super Bowl wins unmatched by anyone in the sport's history, and Goodell paid tribute to Brady's longevity and legacy.

"Tom Brady will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play in the NFL," Goodell said in a statement.

"An incredible competitor and leader, his stellar career is remarkable for its longevity but also for the sustained excellence he displayed year after year.

"Tom made everyone around him better and always seemed to rise to the occasion in the biggest moments.

"His record five Super Bowl MVP awards and seven Super Bowl championships set a standard that players will chase for years.

"He inspired fans in New England, Tampa and around the world with one of the greatest careers in NFL history. 

"It has been a privilege to watch him compete and have him in the NFL. We thank him for his many contributions to our game and wish Tom and his family all the best in the future."

Tom Brady said he "loved" his NFL career but insists that "now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention".

The legendary quarterback, whose career spanned 22 years and saw him win an unprecedented seven Super Bowl titles, officially announced his retirement from the game in a statement on his Instagram page on Tuesday.

However, the 44-year-old notably did not mention his former team the New England Patriots, with whom he spent 20 seasons and won six Super Bowls.

Below is Brady's statement in full:

"I have always believed the sport of football is an 'all-in' proposition – if a 100 per cent competitive commitment isn't there, you won't succeed, and success is what I love so much about our game.

"There is a physical, mental, and emotional challenge EVERY single day that has allowed me to maximise my highest potential. And I have tried my very best these past 22 years. There are no shortcuts to success on the field or in life.

"This is difficult for me to write, but here it goes: I am not going to make that competitive commitment any more. I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention.

"I've done a lot of reflecting the past week and have asked myself difficult questions. And I am so proud of what we have achieved. My teammates, coaches, fellow competitors and fans deserve 100 per cent of me, but right now, it's best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes.

"To my Bucs teammates the past two years, I love you guys and I have loved going to battle with you. You have dug so deep to challenge yourself, and it inspired me to wake up every day and give you my best. I am always here for you guys and want to see you continue to push yourselves to be your best. I couldn't be happier with what we accomplished together.

"To all the Bucs fans, thank you. I didn't know what to expect when I arrived here, but your support and embrace have enriched my life and that of my family. I have been honored to play for such a passionate and fun fan base. What a Krewe!!!

"To the city of Tampa and the entire Tampa-St. Petersburg region, thank you. It has been wonderful to be a resident of such a fun place to live. I want to be invited to our next boat parade!

"To the Glazer family, thank you for taking a chance on me and supporting me. I know I was demanding at times, but you provided everything we needed to win, and your ownership was everything a player could ask for.

"To Jason Licht, thank you for your daily support and friendship - I will never forget it. I had never been through free agency, and I had some trepidation about how we could achieve success. Your leadership gave me confidence, and I will always be grateful.

"To my head coach Bruce Arians, thanks for putting up with me! Your firm leadership and guidance were ideal. There is no way we could have had success without your experience, intuition and wisdom. I am very grateful.

"To all the Bucs coaches, my sincere thanks for all the hard work, dedication and discipline that goes into creating a winning team. I have learned so much from all of you and will value the relationships we have.

"To every single Bucs staffer and employee, thank you. Each of you is critically important, and I was greeted with a smile every day. That means so much to me. Your work is made up of long hours and hard tasks, but please know I see each and every one of you. Thank you so much.

"To Alex Guerrero, thank you. I could never have made every Sunday without you; it's that simple. Your dedication to your craft and our friendship and brotherhood are immeasurable. We have an unbreakable bond and I love you.

"To Don Yee and Steve Dubin, thank you. You've been with me every step of the way since I left the University of Michigan and before I entered the league. What a journey it's been, and I couldn't do it without you.

"To my parents and entire family (and extended family of countless friends), I love you and thank you for your never-ending support and love. I could never have imagined the time and energy you have given me the past 30 years in football. I can never repay you. And just know I love you so much.

"And lastly to my wife Gisele, and my children Jack, Benny and Vivi. You are my inspiration. Our family is my greatest achievement. I always came off the field and home to the most loving and supportive wife who has done EVERYTHING for our family to allow me to focus on my career. Her selflessness allowed me to reach new heights professionally, and I am beyond words what you mean to me and our family. Te amo amor da minha vida.

"My playing career has been such a thrilling ride, and far beyond my imagination, and full of ups and downs. When you're in it every day, you really don't think about any kind of ending. As I sit here now, however, I think of all the great players and coaches I was privileged to play with and against - the competition was fierce and deep, JUST HOW WE LIKE IT.

"But the friendships and relationships are just as fierce and deep. I will remember and cherish these memories and re-visit them often. I feel like the luckiest person in the world.

"The future is exciting. I'm fortune to have co-founded incredible companies like Autograph.io, Brady Brand and TB12 Sports that I'm excited to continue to help build and grow, but exactly what my days will look like will be a work-in-progress. As I said earlier, I am going to take it day by day.

"I know for sure I want to spend a lot of time giving to others and trying to enrich other people's lives, just as so many have done for me.

"With much love, appreciation and gratitude. Tom"

Tom Brady has officially retired.

After premature reports at the weekend prompted backlash, the decision was confirmed on Tuesday, leaving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to replace the greatest of all time this offseason.

The Buccaneers do have an in-house option but, if head coach Bruce Arians stays on board as expected, it is likely he will want a quarterback who can help an extremely talented team, albeit one that could lose some of that talent in free agency, contend for further Super Bowls.

So who could be in line to take the reins under center from Brady?

Stats Perform looks at the young gun who may have the substantial challenge of stepping into Brady's shoes and, with free agent options thin on the ground, three players they could target in a trade to run the offense.

 

Kyle Trask

The Buccaneers selected Trask, a Heisman Trophy finalist in his final year at Florida in 2020, in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Tampa Bay probably would have liked him to have another year of seasoning before throwing him in at the deep end, but they now have to consider whether he is ready to make the leap to the starting role in the pros.

Trask led the FBS in passing touchdowns with 43 in his final season with the Gators and, though there should be cause for concern over an elongated throwing motion and his decision-making, his play under pressure in college in 2020 was encouraging.

Indeed, Trask delivered a well-thrown ball on 74.56 of his pass attempts when under pressure – only three Power 5 quarterbacks (min. 50 attempts under pressure) fared better.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Garoppolo is almost certain to be on the trade market after he crumbled in the fourth quarter of the San Francisco 49ers' NFC Championship Game defeat to the Los Angeles Rams. 

With Trey Lance waiting in the wings, the Niners will likely look to recoup what they can for a quarterback who helped them reach Super Bowl LIV in the 2019 season.

Despite his 31-14 record in the regular season with the 49ers, the Buccaneers may be reticent to strike a deal for a quarterback whose skill set would not appear to mesh well with Arians' aggressive downfield passing attack.

Garoppolo averaged just 7.51 air yards per attempt in 2021, the eighth-fewest among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts.

Russell Wilson

If you want downfield aggressiveness, look no further than Wilson.

Only Justin Fields (10.02) averaged more air yards per attempt than Wilson (10) in 2021, while Davis Mills (114.6), another rookie, was the sole quarterback to have a higher passer rating on attempts of 21 air yards or more (114.0) among signal-callers with at least 25 attempts of that distance.

The stylistic fit is obvious, and the Buccaneers critically have the offensive line to satisfy Wilson's main issue with the Seattle Seahawks, a lack of pass protection.

But, with an ageing core, it is debatable at best whether the Bucs would consider mortgaging their future in a blockbuster trade for Wilson, and it's still not clear whether Seattle would even come to the table.

Aaron Rodgers

The potential biggest prize out there on the trade market seems like the largest long shot for the Bucs.

Rodgers would no doubt be able to adapt to Arians' offense and, if the Bucs keep hold of Chris Godwin, he would be thrilled with the receiving corps he would have at his disposal.

Yet there are signs of an improving relationship between Rodgers and the Packers' brass and perhaps a willingness to give it another go even after this season's playoff failure.

If Rodgers does decide he wants to go elsewhere, the Denver Broncos would be the favourites to land him having hired former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their new head coach. The Bucs may have to give it the hard sell to land Rodgers.

In the NFL, it is very difficult to go out on top.

Parity reigns supreme in North America's dominant league, with no team since the 2004 New England Patriots achieving the feat of winning back-to-back Super Bowls.

As such, the task of winning the Super Bowl in your final season as a player is an extremely challenging one, especially in an era where there is an apparent production line of young quarterbacks rapidly ascending to the top of the sport.

John Elway and Peyton Manning both did it, in the 1998 and 2015 seasons respectively, both signing off with Super Bowl victories for the Denver Broncos. 

But neither nor Elway nor Manning could be considered at the top of their game, with both arguably carried to the title by an extremely talented roster.

Tom Brady could not replicate their achievement but, though he and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came up short against the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round of the playoffs in what proved his final game, the case can be made his farewell was superior even without it coming on the Super Bowl podium.

Brady will, of course, look back on his Super Bowl-winning seasons with the greatest fondness. However, his 2021 numbers compare favourably with those from a 2007 campaign most consider his finest, another year in which he did not lift the Lombardi Trophy.

In 2007, Brady threw for 4,806 yards, 50 touchdowns and averaged 300.4 yards per game. That touchdown tally trails only Manning in 2013 (55) for the most in a single season, Brady forming a devastating combination with wide receiver Randy Moss in a Patriots offense that is regarded as one of the greatest in NFL history

The yardage total was topped in 2011 (5,235) and 2012 (4,827), yet the zenith in that sense came in 2021, Brady racking up a league-leading 5,316 passing yards at an average of 312.7 yards per game while also leading the NFL with 43 touchdowns.

Those numbers served as a further testament to his ability to adapt to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians' aggressive downhill passing game following his switch from the New England Patriots after the 2019 season.

His 42 passing plays of 25 yards or more were the most in the 2021 regular season, Brady continuing to produce explosive plays in a year that saw him shorn of the services of Chris Godwin through injury and, later in the year, Antonio Brown following the All-Pro wide receiver's very public split from the Bucs.

Delivering an accurate, well-thrown ball on 79.2 per cent of his attempts in 2021 – the average among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts was 78.3 – and throwing a pickable pass on only 2.56 per cent of passes, third-best for signal-callers to meet that threshold, there was no sign of a drop-off in terms of accuracy or decision-making from Brady in his final year.

The combination of accuracy and an arm clearly still strong enough to make throws to every level of the field came to the fore as Brady pounced on a collection of Rams errors to help the Bucs fight back from 27-3 down to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, his 55-yard bomb to Mike Evans to cut the gap to seven points encapsulating his ability to still produce the remarkable even with a depleted receiving group and his offensive line being bullied by Los Angeles.

That the Rams recovered to kick the game-winning field goal is almost immaterial. Brady's send-off was still a thrilling one and a scarcely needed reminder that, in his unprecedented two-plus decades of dominance, no lead was ever safe.

For Elway and Manning, their career-ending Super Bowl triumphs were legacy-defining. Brady did not need to pad his legacy any further but still threw for over 4,000 yards for the fifth time since turning 40 and delivered one final bewitching rollercoaster.

Brady did not go out on top but, rather than being carried to victory, he exited the stage still arguably at the peak of his powers having narrowly missed out on lifting his team to an astonishing comeback win. It wasn't a winning farewell but, in every other sense, it was the perfect Brady goodbye.

Tom Brady has officially announced his retirement from the NFL.

An ESPN report on Saturday revealed the legendary quarterback was set to bring his career to a close after 22 seasons in the NFL.

Those claims were soon disputed, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar "still going through the process" on Monday as he discussed his future.

But Tuesday brought an official statement from Brady on the 44-year-old's Instagram page.

"I have always believed the sport of football is an 'all-in' proposition – if a 100 per cent competitive commitment isn't there, you won't succeed, and success is what I love so much about our game," he wrote.

"There is a physical, mental, and emotional challenge EVERY single day that has allowed me to maximise my highest potential.

"And I have tried my very best these past 22 years. There are no shortcuts to success on the field or in life.

"This is difficult for me to write, but here it goes: I am not going to make that competitive commitment anymore.

"I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention."

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