Just about the only thing that Tom Brady didn’t do well as an NFL Quarterback is retire. News broke of his retirement over the weekend, social media exploded, and then there were reports he hadn’t made up his mind. As much as Tampa Bay hoped it could Keep Tom and Carry On, Brady finally made his work stoppage official. It’s fitting that a player who spent so many years on top is going out the same way. At the age of 44, Brady had one of his best years ever. And that’s saying something. Just consider some of these comparisons from The Ringer: Tom Brady Vanquished Father Time. “Seven Super Bowl rings, which is not only more than any other player in NFL history but more than any other team in NFL history. Brady has the same number of Super Bowl appearances as the Bears, Titans, Jets, Chargers, Saints, Browns, Cardinals, Jaguars, Lions, and Ravens combined. Brady made 10 Super Bowl appearances in his 20 seasons as a starter … The Belichick-Brady Patriots won the AFC East at a higher rate (89.5 percent) than Michael Jordan made free throws. Brady has spent more than 400 days—more than a year of his life—in the playoffs. He played 17 games, a full season, in the divisional round and went 14-3. Brady grew up in the Bay Area worshipping Joe Montana’s 49ers, and now Brady has more Super Bowl wins and the same number of playoff victories (35) as the 49ers franchise, which was established three decades before Brady was born.” And from ESPN, Inside the amazing numbers that help define Tom Brady’s legacy. In short, Tom Brady was the Tom Brady of football. If you read through the lines, Brady even had the best-ever reason to retire from the NFL: He wants to spend more time with Gisele.

+ “That’s Brady. Not the Instagram followers. Not the supermodel wife, Gisele Bündchen. Not the worldwide fame, the handful of controversies he confronted, the lives he changed, the records he set or the older people he inspired. Not even the Super Bowl rings. No, Brady is process, him doing the same things, year after year, at a consistently high level.” SI: How Tom Brady, the Person and the Process, Made Greatness Seem Routine. And now, with his new home in Miami, Brady will face his biggest challenge yet: Trying to become Florida’s greatest retiree.

+ Why am I leading with this story? Yes, I like football and I’m trying to take my mind off the 49ers loss. But also because, for better or worse, the NFL is one of the few cultural attractions that still draws Americans from across the political spectrum. Last weekend’s Rams-49ers game drew 50 million viewers.

+ While this is a time to laud Brady, we shouldn’t forget how many hopes and dreams he crushed along the way. Thankfully, the Jets had a tweet to remind us: “this better be real.”