Tom Brady is putting football down for good. On Wednesday, the most successful quarterback in NFL history once again announced his retirement. Overwhelmed with titles and records. But what made Brady this incredible footballer? Sports Illustrated explains why.

Tom Brady had a lot of thoughts in October 2019 when he had to return an important email. The NFL superstar, entrepreneur, advertising icon, and health guru was slated to write a foreword for Jim Gray’s book, Talking to GOAT’s: The Moments You Remember and the Stories You Never Heard.

A memoir about the life and career of the sports presenter. Normally an easy task, but Brady doesn’t do things by halves. Brady wanted to read everything first, the draft and the chapters. Brady didn’t return the email until two days after his last request.

Brady’s way of dealing with even the smallest details has stood out in his life and sporting career now that the all-time greatest quarterback has officially announced his retirement. After 23 NFL seasons and seven Super Bowl victories.

The enormous attention to detail, the enormous love for the sport. That remains of Brady. Not his Instagram followers. Not his supermodel (ex) wife Gisele Bundchen. Not the worldwide fame and records he set – but the way he worked his way up. He made history over the years by consistently delivering uncanny performances at extreme levels.

Brady’s career has been a process. His meticulousness, his love for the smallest detail, his accuracy, coupled with foresight and enormous professionalism. Those were the reasons, some call the secrets, behind its tremendous success.

Brady did the same things year after year and improved that process with meticulous details in his training, diet and mentality. Long before other athletes and other teams started doing it, Brady surrounded himself with specialists he hired and paid for. This made him the most successful football player in history.

Almost ten years ago, many people began to understand what drove Brady and made him so special. After games, he worked with gymnastics resistance bands to recover and stretch.

Many later imitated him. A saying at the time was “Football isn’t what Tom does – Football is Tom.”

In 2014, when asked how much longer he wanted to play, Brady replied to a Sports Illustrated reporter, “Preferably forever.”

A few years ago, Brady met soccer star Didier Drogba at the Canadian Grand Prix. Brady and Drogba deepened their conversation as the Formula 1 cars zoomed past them at 300 km/h in Montreal. Both talked about cardio and stretching exercises.

When Brady asked him about endurance training, Drogba explained that the key was not more training, but more rest. Their bodies are like racing cars and he pointed to the race track.

Drogba and Brady had made a bet of sorts in Montreal. Their bet revolved around titles and longevity. That bet was won by Brady, who is now retiring at the age of 45. Drogba broke up at the age of 39.

Brady never wanted to retire. He kept coming back. In 2020 he switched from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he won his seventh Super Bowl in February 2021. While other football pros were retiring one after the other, Brady kept winning and held the Lombardi trophy over his chiseled chin.

But now his children are getting older and his life is changing. Now Brady is realizing what might be more important in life. Your own wishes, maybe his family? His marriage to Gisele finally broke up.

Brady made NFL history. From his records to his longevity, he will be remembered forever. Brady was an offensive evolution as a quarterback. Every year he increased the accuracy of his throws – like a surgeon – and his passing numbers.

More recently, Brady continued the trend of older athletes ending their careers elsewhere for other teams. The difference to the rest was Brady moved to the Buccaneers where he continued to win and dominate. Other stars no longer won.

Brady didn’t leave the New England Patriots because his skills were failing. Brady just kept going – at his incredibly high level. John Elway retired at 38, Peyton Manning at 40 and Joe Montana at 38.

Neither of them threw those fantastic passes in their final season, let alone for their final touchdown at age 45. No one gave his critics this ultimate clear answer.

Follow games and conferences in the live stream

By the end, Brady was a driven man wanting to cement his place in the history books. When asked by Drogba at the Formula 1 circuit how much longer he wanted to play, Brady replied, “I don’t know. I just want to keep going. I just want to win.”

Brady has seven NFL titles in his career. Exactly as many as Drogba suggested to him at the time: “If you really want to be the GOAT, you have to try it with seven.” In 2021 the time had come. Brady didn’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore. He was the greatest.

Many articles will again be written in the coming weeks about his legacy, his influence on the way he dominated his sport and how he now enjoys life on the golf course and with his family. Perhaps he will devote himself to writing when he retires.

What seemed boring to many from the outside made him strong. The repetitive routines and the almost insane improvement in every detail like training, rest, and nutrition. Brady has worked behind the scenes like no other. That time is over now. Finally over.

This article was written by Greg Bishop

The original for this article “The secret behind Tom Brady’s incredible success” comes from Sports Illustrated Germany.