The New England Patriots' season ended in disappointing fashion, kick-starting all sorts of fun rumors about Tom Brady's future with Bill Belichick and if the longtime quarterback would consider leaving Foxborough, the only football home he's known at the professional level, for greener and/or warmer pastures. There has been no indication of what Brady really plans to do, but the man himself has already stated he, at the very least, doesn't plan to retire this offseason.
Colin Cowherd does not agree with that decision. He went on the mic during The Herd today to explain why right now is the perfect time for Brady to hang up his cleats:
Cowherd says here that the careers of superstar athletes usually ends "choppily", and rattles off a rather long list of stars who had quite forgettable final seasons (with Michael Jordan to the Wizards as the most pertinent example). He then points to Derek Jeter and John Elway as stars who retired when the time was right, and if money isn't an issue, Brady should retire now instead of fading away. The segment also included interesting insight from Tony Gonzalez, who said he retired when he did because he didn't want to be the guy on the field that fans would point to as a former great on his last legs.
Cowherd notes that he's not predicting Brady will retire, and acknowledges he still has the ability to win games. But Cowherd likes clean, happy endings, citing his agreeable relationship with his ex-wife as proof of that. He would rather remember Brady as the guy who goes out on the heels of two decades of dominance with one coach and one franchise than any lingering memories of the Patriots great in Titans' blue or Chargers' yellow.
As a lifelong Brady fan, it's hard to disagree with Cowherd. It would be tough to see him go out after a wild card loss to the Titans, but it's far preferable to seeing him in any uniform other than a Patriots one. Is it perfect in the way Brady imagines? Probably not. I would guess his perfect retirement involves at least one more Super Bowl victory.
Like Jordan, Brady's legacy is massive and far-reaching enough that it won't be tarnished if he chooses to limp to the finish line instead of leaving the game while everyone still remembers him as a destroyer of hopes and dreams. But if he doesn't want to stay in New England, now is as good a time as any to hang 'em up.