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Brett Arends’s ROI: Tom Brady gets emotional as he retires—again

There’s no crying in baseball. There’s no crying in football either.

But NFL legend and quarterback GOAT Tom Brady had tears in his eyes Wednesday morning when he finally announced his retirement—again—in a 53 second video.

“You only get one super-emotional retirement ‘essay’ and I used mine up last year,” 45-year old Brady said to the camera, but he went on to look pretty emotional anyway.

“I really thank you guys so much, to every single one of you for supporting me—to my family, my friends, my teammates, my competitors,” he said. “I could go on forever, There’s too many. Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream. I wouldn’t change a thing. Love you all.”

Retiring after the greatest career in football history could make anyone emotional. But this is a guy who apparently had ice in his veins on the field. He came through more comebacks—and a few spectacular setbacks—than anyone could imagine.  

Brady’s retirement video raises another question: Did he really just decide overnight? That’s what he seemed to imply.

“Good morning, guys. I’ll get to the point right away. I’m retiring. For good. I know the process was a pretty big deal last time, so when I woke up this morning I figured I’d just press record and let you guys know first.”

Why this time? Only Brady can answer that.

Maybe it was after not making the playoffs. Or posting season numbers well below his past glories.

Maybe it was realizing that these days he’s hitting the Hollywood red carpets with actresses in their 70s and 80s like Jane Fonda (85), Lily Tomlin (83) and Sally Field (76). 

Or maybe it was seeing the Page 6 news about ex-wife Gisele Bündchen dining and horseback riding in Costa Rica with “hot jujitsu instructor” Joaquim Valente.

Who knows?

Robert Delamontagne, who wrote a book about the psychology of retirement, says very successful people like Brady find it very hard to quit.

“It boils down to ‘achievement addiction,’” Delamontagne tells me. “What happens psychologically, when you’re very successful, (is) you become very addicted to all the competition, the winning, the accolades. You don’t realize it at the time, (but) it becomes your way of life. It’s addictive. When you don’t have that any more, it almost feels like death. It feels like you’ve lost your identity.”

Brady was better at throwing a football than he was at giving up.

He first announced his retirement a year ago, before reversing the decision a few weeks later. Only he can really be the judge, but from the cheap seats it doesn’t look like it was a great move. He had a mediocre 2022 season and didn’t make the playoffs. And the move apparently cost him his marriage to Bündchen.

Imagine if Brady had announced his retirement at the Super Bowl two years ago, when he won his seventh and final ring—with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I think it’s pretty clear that Tom Brady had this remarkable — almost unreal — moment to go out higher than anyone ever after leading the Bucs to that Super Bowl 55 win,” says Boston-based business executive Cosmo Macero, a lifelong New England Patriots fan. “It was the perfect script and one more layer of cement casting him as the undisputed GOAT. In retrospect — other than lots of money — what exactly did Brady’s legacy gain from the seasons following that? Not a lot.”

Regular people often delay retirement because they need the money. We can safely say that’s not going to be an issue in Brady’s case. (And it wouldn’t be even if he hadn’t landed a $375 million contract with Fox.)

Some people just can’t seem to quit. Brady at least went out better than baseball legend Babe Ruth, who left the Yankees and eked out a final, dismal season with the Boston Braves. Mohammed Ali should never have fought Larry Holmes in 1980.

And it’s not just sports, either. George Lucas should have retired the Star Wars franchise after three movies. What on earth was Harrison Ford thinking by unretiring Indiana Jones for “Crystal Skull?” And why do most James Bond actors seem to go on too long? (George Lazenby is the only one who retired early.)

Oh, and while we’re about it, if you’re 76 years old, you have already run for president twice and lost the popular vote both times, and you can hardly even raise a buck for your third run, why wouldn’t you just get off the stage already?

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