Let's take a time machine back to 2000. Boy bands are everywhere, flip phones are the best technology, your movie night consists of a trip at Blockbuster and a little known quarterback named Tom Brady has yet to throw an NFL pass. Flash forward 23 years, and that player who fell to the sixth round is now the greatest to ever do it.
Of those 23 years, 20 were spent with the New England Patriots and owner Robert Kraft. Together, along with Bill Belichick and an extensive list of players, they won six Super Bowls, created two dynasties and were part of some of the greatest teams of all time.
Brady is now retired "for good," marking his second Feb. 1 retirement announcement, the last one coming in 2022. As former coaches, teammates, media and fans comment on the career of TB12, his former owner jumped in as well with compliments for the 45-year-old and a contract offer.
When asked if he would sign Brady to a one-day contract so the 45-year-old could retire as a Patriot, the owner said (via the team's official website), "I'd do it tomorrow."
"Not only do I want it, our fans are clamoring for it and to us, he always has been and always will be a Patriot," Kraft continued. "We'll do everything we can in our power to bring him back, sign off as a Patriot and find ways to honor him for many years to come. He did so much to bring life and good cheer to our community and he's a beloved figure and he's earned the respect and love that people feel for him like no other athlete in our town and we've had some great ones."
Kraft said he doubts anyone will ever match Brady's impressive NFL career.
"I don't believe in the 100-year-old history of the NFL, there's been a quarterback of Tom's ilk. I would have trouble ever believing there would be another one," Kraft said, (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com).
Brady's career will certainly be difficult, if not impossible, to top. If you broke up his career by decade, each one is worthy of a Hall of Fame spot. He had seven Super Bowl wins, more than any other player or franchise and holds countless records in passing, wins and playoffs.
"I am so proud of Tommy," Kraft added later in a statement released by the team. "He has accomplished everything there is to achieve in this game, and so much more. No player in NFL history has done it as well for as long as Tom Brady. He is the fiercest competitor I have ever known and the ultimate champion. He led the Patriots to two decades of unprecedented dominance. He is truly the greatest of all-time.
"Words cannot adequately express the gratitude my family, the New England Patriots and our fans have for everything he has done. It's been a blessing for me to watch him grow, first as a young professional on the field, but most importantly, as a person off it. He is one of the most loving, caring and passionate players I have ever known and I will always consider him a part of our family."
In an adjoining statement, Bill Belichick called Brady the "ultimate winner" and "leaves as the most successful player in league history."