Patriots, not the entire NFL, should retire Tom Brady’s No. 12

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

I remember my brother asked me if that Tom Brady guy was any good after the New England Patriots drafted him in the sixth round. I said, “Yeah, but the Patriots got Drew Bledsoe.”

I also remember telling John Madden S.T.F.U. for suggesting the Patriots should play for overtime after the Rams tied Super Bowl XXXVI. I spent the night rocking back in forth in my chair, unsatisfied with just being there because the Patriots just lost a Super Bowl five years ago.

And after Adam Vinatieri’s field goal sailed through the uprights, I knew the Patriots had a new franchise quarterback.

Over 23 years, 20 with the Patriots, Tom Brady made a lot of memories. Game-winning drives, game-winning touchdowns, unbelievable comebacks, 10 Super Bowl appearances, seven Super Bowl wins. He did all of that.

Brady accomplished things that no player will ever do. His success is unparalleled. He became the Greatest of all Time. His career is legendary and will be remembered for eternity.

Now retired for good, one way to ensure Brady’s immortality is to retire his jersey number. That would be truly fitting, if only done with the franchise Brady became a legend.

New England Patriots should retire Tom Brady’s 12, but not the NFL

I remember Brady’s game-winning touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks just inside the pylon against the Houston Texans because it was in front of section 313. I remember Brady returning from his four-game suspension to destroy the Cleveland Browns. I remember elbowing my brother while saying, “He got ‘em. He got ‘em,” just as Brady pulled the trigger on a flea flicker to Chris Hogan in an AFC Championship win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Much of what Brady did may never be done again. To have such incredible individual success in the ultimate team game would be considered unbelievable, except Brady did it. And no one might not even come close to what Brady did in the next 100 years of the NFL.

But to retire 12 league-wide is a show of respect that goes a little too far.

The other three pro sports league in the US have a league-wide retired number: 42 for Jackie Robinson in Major League Baseball, 99 for Wayne Gretzky in the National Hockey League, and the National Basketball League just retired 6 for Bill Russell after his passing in 2022.

It would make sense for the NFL to choose a player for a similar honor, and Brady would be worthy, but it isn’t necessary.

In today’s age of participation trophies, retiring 12 at this time would feel over the top. The number of former players, coaches, and etc. getting statues is out of hand. Not every player that used to play for other teams, deserves a tribute video.

Brady deserves to have his name spoken along with the greats mentioned above for his accomplishments on the field. What Brady lacks is a contribution to society.

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Russell was a social activist during and after his basketball career. Robinson broke the color barrier. They risked their careers for challenging the status quo, ultimately leaving a legacy of making the country better.

Obviously Gretzky doesn’t have a similar contribution as Russell and Robinson, so one can make a case for Brady is based on numbers alone. Just keep in mind there are a lot of fan bases that wouldn’t be on board with the decision.

Other teams have/had players that represented their franchises while wearing 12. New York Jets (Joe Namath), Dallas Cowboys (Roger Staubach), Buffalo Bills (Jim Kelly) and Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers) fans wouldn’t want a 12 for Brady in their stadiums. Hell, the Seattle Seahawks wouldn’t want to give up the 12th man tradition, and they shouldn’t have to.

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The NFL shouldn’t retire 12, but the NFL should pay Brady some respect for his career. One idea is to name the Super Bowl MVP award after Brady. That would be appropriate since it’s highly unlikely another player ever wins seven championships.

While in New England, Brady can sign a one-day contract to retire as a Patriot (which all Patriots fans want), become the eighth Patriot to have his number retired, and have a statue built outside Gillette Stadium.

I remember losing my mind when Malcolm Butler picked off the Seahawks at the goal line because I correctly predicted the final score. I remember Brady connecting with Rob Gronkowski on two consecutive passes to set up Sony Michel’s touchdown run.

The NFL won’t forget what Tom Brady did in his career. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will pay him respect, but Brady will be remembered the most by his New England Patriots fans. And the Patriots retiring 12 should be the next Tom Brady memory.