As a head coach, Rex Ryan knew what it was like to lose to Brady’s teams in New England. “My first thought was, ‘Good for him,’” Ryan, now an ESPN commentator, said on the network Wednesday morning after Brady’s announcement on social media. “He left this game on his own. He was … still at the top of his game — maybe not the top, but close. He did set an NFL record for most pass attempts and most completions this year, and that’s how he’s going out.
Ryan praised Brady for elevating his teammates, something Tedy Bruschi, a former Patriots linebacker who now works for ESPN, said he “saw Brady grow into,” going from the 199th draft pick in 2000 to the team’s leader when Drew Bledsoe was injured the following year. “He captured every teammate’s motivation in why they play,” Bruschi said. “The one word he used all the time,” he continued, “was ‘relationship.’”
Bruschi noted that competition was an “addiction” for Brady and that knowledge made watching his video announcement even more difficult. “I got emotional myself,” Bruschi said, “because I just know how hard that was for him to do. Tom Brady is basically saying, ‘I choose not to compete anymore.’ … As a former teammate, I feel compelled to say, ‘No, Tom, thank you.’”
Tributes also streamed in on social media Wednesday. There were plenty of goat emoji, referencing Brady’s status as the Greatest Of All-Time, and acknowledgments that Brady seems to mean it this time, headed for a new career as a Fox commentator.
Defensive end J.J. Watt, who announced his own retirement near the end of this season, tweeted that Brady is the “Greatest of All Time. No question, no debate,” and joked, “PS — The newly retired group meets on the golf course every morning at 10am. Drinks are on the new guy, so bring your wallet.”
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