Quarterback Tom Brady led a team to the championship of the National Football League seven times, six with the New England Patriots and once with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in a stellar career that lasted from 2000-2022. In only his second year in the league, Tom Brady replaced injured starter Drew Bledsoe early in the 2001 season and kept the job for the rest of the year. With Brady at the helm, the Patriots scored a 20-17 upset victory over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002. Brady was named the Super Bowl's most valuable player and became (to that point) the youngest starting quarterback ever to win the Super Bowl. Brady quickly became, and remained over time, one of the NFL's most popular players. His dimple-chinned good looks, aw-shucks charisma, and sheer competitiveness were popular with fans. He combined those traits, at least at first, with an underdog story: After graduating from the University of Michigan, Brady went unchosen in the NFL draft until the Patriots picked him in the 6th round, making him the 199th player selected that year. In 2004 the Patriots were back in Super Bowl XXXVIII, and again Brady was named the game's MVP as he led the Patriots to a 32-29 win over the Carolina Panthers. Brady and the Patriots again went to the big game in 2005, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles, 24-21, in Super Bowl XXXIX. He was named the most valuable player of the NFL in 2007, when the Patriots had a perfect 16-0 record in the regular season before losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl by a score of 17-14. In the very first game of 2008, Brady injured his knee and missed the entire season. He was replaced that year by backup Matt Cassel, but returned for the 2009 season. He signed a four-year, $72 million contract extension before the start of the 2010 season, paying him $18 million per season with a total of $48.5 million guaranteed. That made Brady the NFL's highest-paid player (for that moment, at least) and assured that he would stay with the Patriots through the 2014 season. He again led the Patriots to the Super Bowl in 2012 (after the 2011 season), but they again lost to the New York Giants, this time 21-17. In 2013 he signed still another contract extension to last through 2017, the year he would turn 40. At the end of the next season, he and the Patriots won the Super Bowl again: they beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, 2015, and Brady was again named the game's most valuable player. But: Before that 2015 Super Bowl win, the NFL discovered that Patriots game balls had been slightly under-inflated during the previous playoff game, a 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Thus began the bizarre "Deflategate" story, with the implication being that Brady had asked team staff to deflate the balls slightly to give him a better grip. After a three-month investigation led by outside attorney Theodore V. Wells, Jr., the NFL released the Wells Report, which concluded that it was "more probable than not" that Patriots staffers had in fact deflated balls and that Brady was aware of it. The NFL suspended Brady for the first four games of the 2016 season, fined the Patriots $1 million, and took away the team's first-round draft pick in 2016 and its fourth-round draft pick in 2017. Tom Brady sat out the first four games of the 2016 season, but came roaring back to lead the Patriots to Super Bowl LI on February 5, 2017. There the Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime, 34-28. Brady was again named Super Bowl MVP, for an unprecedented fourth time. Brady and the Patriots kept rolling, returning to the Super Bowl the next two years: they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 41-33 in Super Bowl LII in 2018, but won their sixth Super Bowl in 2019, beating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3. For the 2020 season, Brady left the Patriots as a free agent and chose a new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In that very first season he led them, at age 43, to a win in Super Bowl LV, with the Buccaneers defeating young QB Patrick Mahomes
and the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9. Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time. Tom Brady was 44 years old when he played his last game, a divisional round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams, on January 23, 2022. He announced his retirement from the NFL on February 1, 2022, saying "It's best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes."