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Of all the notable NFL retirements after Super Bowl victories — John Elway, Jerome Bettis and Peyton Manning being the most recent examples — none featured the sport’s unquestioned all-time best at his position. The closest comparison is linebacker Ray Lewis, who announced his impending retirement weeks before his Ravens reached and won Super Bowl XLVII. And Lewis, because of an injury, started only six games during his final regular season in 2012. Brady, who started all 12 for which he was available, claims he felt better physically as the 2016 season progressed.
Which raises the question: Why would Brady retire when he clearly still can perform at an all-time level and shows no signs of regression?
The answer: A man who’s abnormally healthy after having played 17 NFL seasons would be wise to maintain said abnormal health; health that, in a sport like football and in a league like the NFL, is as guaranteed as about half of the two-year contract Brady recently signed with the Patriots.
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New England Patriots jerseys coach Bill Belichick was a guest of Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski on Wednesday’s edition of Krzyzewski’s SiriusXM Radio show, “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K.” The show aired at 7 p.m. ET on SiriusXM College Sports Nation (Channel 84).
On QB Tom Brady: “The biggest thing Tom does for us is to try to keep us out of those bad plays where we have [a] 5-10 percent chance of really being successful, whether it’s a coverage or a blitz or an alignment that they give us, and he sees that what we’ve got called just isn’t what we want to be in. That wasn’t why we called the play … to run it against that particular look. Then, sometimes he’ll be able to get out of those and get us something that, like I said, gives us more of a fair fight.”
Let’s be clear: This Brady retirement speculation only applies because Patriots beat the Falcons on Sunday. There’s no way the competitive fire that continues to fuel Brady in Year 17 would have allowed him to quit on the heels of another title-game loss. Those two missed opportunities against the Giants still haunt Brady, one of those guys who remembers more about the devastating losses than the career-defining wins.
Not that Brady cares, but because those accomplishments in the eyes of the majority do indeed already define his career, they’re the reason why his retirement would not be met with debate. Only admiration. Brady has absolutely nothing left to prove.
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On Super Bowl 51: “Our guys played like champions in the last 20 minutes, and we really were able to have a lot of things go right, which they needed to pretty much just had to fall the way they did, or we would have been in trouble. So it was a great year and a great victory for our team.”
How he viewed the Patriots’ early performance: “The Super Bowl, for me, and I know you’ve been in these games before and you can relate to this: There are some games you feel like you’re in control of the game, but you’re not in control of the score. That’s kind of the way I felt in the Super Bowl. We moved the ball. We were able to stop them on third down. I didn’t feel like we were being dominated on the field. But we were being dominated on the scoreboard. Vice versa, I’ve coached other games where we might be ahead by 14 points, but I felt like it was because they turned the ball over a couple times, or maybe we couldn’t really stop them, or we couldn’t really run the ball or control the line of scrimmage, so I didn’t feel like we had control of the game, even though the scoreboard might indicate that. I’m sure you’ve had that feeling too, where you look up at the scoreboard, and it is what it is. But if that’s the same score in a different game, you might have a different feeling. … That didn’t really happen for me in the cheap Super Bowl jerseys. We tried to stay with what we were doing, except for defensively, once we got into the fourth quarter, we just became a little more aggressive with our calls, took a free safety out of the middle of the field and put him into coverage and just tried to press things a little tighter to create a negative play. Fortunately, we were able to get a couple of negative plays, which helped us in a couple of those series in the fourth quarter.”