The 30 NFL franchises not named the New England Patriots or Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had to deal with Tom Brady for two decades, often suffering a heartbreaking loss or two (or more) in the process. When Brady announced his retirement on Tuesday, those teams and their fans expressed admiration, often laced with a touch of sarcastic glee.
The Indianapolis Colts, who had many battles with the Patriots at the helm of the AFC during Brady’s rivalry with Peyton Manning, posted a meme from the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants that featured Squidward happily celebrating behind closed doors after telling SpongeBob, ” Good luck elsewhere ! I’ll miss you.”
The Jets, divisional rivals for the Patriots who have often done poorly in the AFC East, tweeted, “This better be real.” It was a reference to last weekend’s confusion after Brady’s agent and father denied a report by ESPN that that the quarterback had decided to retire.
Even the youngest winners had fun. The Buccaneers lost 30-27 to the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional round of the playoffs, falling just short after Brady again overcame a double-digit deficit to level the game in the fourth quarter. A 55-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans over cornerback Jalen Ramsey proved to be the final hit of Brady’s career, something Ramsey will not forget.
Best QB ever retired DANG… he threw his last TD at me 😂
– Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) February 1, 2022
More serious honors also poured in. Manning, who couldn’t escape Brady and played against him when he later joined the Denver Broncos, congratulated him. Brady faced Manning 17 times, winning 11 of those games.
“It was an honor and a privilege to face him on the field,” Manning said said in a statement. “And I really value his friendship off the field.”
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson also posted congratulatory message to Brady on Twitter.
One of the most memorable post-season moments in recent years was when Brady’s Patriots beat Wilson’s Seahawks in the Super Bowl that capped off the 2014 season. Malcolm Butler intercepted a pass from Wilson at the goal line in the final play of the game, sealing victory for the Patriots and giving Brady his fourth Super Bowl win.
Eli Manning, who won two Super Bowls against Brady and the Patriots as the Giants quarterback, captioned her story at the end of a heartfelt congratulatory video posted to Twitter.
” Appreciate your generosity in sharing at least some of these Super Bowls with me,” said Eli Manning. “All the best, mate.”