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Tom Brady announces his retirement from the NFL


Pro football quarterback Tom Brady says he's done. After 22 seasons and seven Super Bowl titles, which is a ridiculous number, he's retiring. His final seasons were with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Most were with the New England Patriots. So we go to Boston, where NPR national correspondent Tovia Smith joins us. Tovia, good morning.

TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What's Brady saying?

SMITH: Well, he says that he - it's difficult to make this decision, as we know it had to have been. He's saying it's time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention. He says football is, quote, an "all-in proposition." He says you have to be 100% committed or you can't succeed, and he said he can't make that commitment anymore.


SMITH: Now, we had some signs of this coming - not only the fact that he's 44, as you say, that the reports have been swirling. He said himself he's being called to other responsibilities like his family. But it is a little surprising this morning because just last night he was still refuting these reports, saying he's still deciding what to do, insisting that he didn't want to distract from the playoff games. But now here we are, just hours later. He's decided to retire, and it's official from him.

INSKEEP: And there's a certain timing that football teams need. They want to know if their quarterback is going to be there or not so they have time to get another one if they need one. So this was driven in a bit by football calendar, but he's made, I guess, this Instagram post, and it seems to be real, after these seeming false alarms of the past day or two. How are people responding in Boston where you are?

SMITH: Well, for sure, there's lots of goat emojis coming from here - lots of love for the guy who gave New England 20 years of joys and wins. But I have to say, there's many, many, many miffed fans here, too, because Brady did not mention in this retirement announcement even one word about the Patriots. He talked about how grateful he was to everyone else, from his coaches to his trainers, his family and, quote, "every single Bucs staffer in Tampa Bay," where he's played for the past two years. But the name Patriots, the team he played for for two decades, does not appear even once in his eight-part post. So, you know, many New England fans were already feeling kind of like spurned lovers when Brady left New England for Tampa, and some have yet to get over it, and now many are just even a little more snubbed. But I did just get a statement from the Patriots owner, Bob Kraft. There's no sign in his statement that he's at all sore. It's all love. He says, as a fan of football, it was a privilege to watch Brady, and as a Patriots fan, it was a dream come true. He says he has great respect for Tom personally and will always consider him an extension of his immediate family.

INSKEEP: I guess we should note that on Instagram, where he posted this, unlike some other social media, you can edit. There's an edit button. So maybe he's going to have to go back in, or someone's going to nudge him, and make him...

SMITH: Pats fans are optimists. We're hoping.

INSKEEP: (Laughter) ...Go back in, and mention Boston at some point, mention New England and the Patriots. So he walks away with these seven Super Bowl rings, which is not anything that other people can say. What does he do next?

SMITH: Time for family, for sure - also, plenty of work to do, just as surely. Interesting - the other word he doesn't say in his announcement is the R-word for retirement. He's got businesses - his apparel company, a performance and wellness company. He does podcasts. He's got a production company. Interestingly, his latest series, called "Man In The Arena," has aired nine parts so far. And last month, the producer said that number 10 would be somewhat delayed. It wouldn't come till spring. So perhaps now we know why, and that series will have its coda.

INSKEEP: He may have a promising future in podcasting. Tovia, thank you so much.

SMITH: You bet.

INSKEEP: That's NPR national correspondent Tovia Smith.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tovia Smith is an award-winning NPR National Correspondent based in Boston, who's spent more than three decades covering news around New England and beyond.