For the second time in a year — this time apparently for good — future first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady is calling it a career.
Brady, who announced his retirement Feb. 1 in a twitter video, stating that it was for good this time, put a cap on a remarkable 23-year career that saw him win seven Super Bowls, stamping his place in NFL history.
The quarterback’s retirement has been met with mixed emotions, but for Steelers fans and media it’s “see ya later” to a guy that caused so many heartaches over the years as a member of the New England Patriots. But for All-Pro Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, it’s the end of an era, showing Heyward his own age and mortality within this game.
Speaking on the latest episode of his podcast “Not Just Football with Cam Heyward” Heyward addressed Brady’s retirement from Las Vegas, where he is representing the Steelers and the AFC as a Pro Bowl player, stating just how appreciative he is of Brady’s career and impact on the NFL overall.
“I think I just started to appreciate what he’s done for our league,” Heyward said regarding Brady to his co-host Hayden Walsh, according to video via the NFL on ESPN YouTube page. “You know, as a competitor you’re always like, ‘man, I gotta beat that dude. I don’t respect him. I just gotta go out there and dominate him.’ But I think you start to look at the longevity of what he’s done, that’s gonna be hard for any player to replicate.
“Not only that, I think he was a genuine good teammate, and I don’t think we talk about the great player he was, but you see how many times he interacted with guys going to hang out with them, going to their charity events. I saw one thing. He was helping out Logan Ryan, helping take care of dogs and he would bring his daughter along. I think Tom Brady is just a heck of a dude that should be commemorated not only for it the way he played on the field, but how he was as a teammate.”
When it comes to Brady, oftentimes his demeanor on the field as a cutthroat competitor, one that could be seen chastising teammates and coaches on the sidelines while demanding perfection, was how he was portrayed publicly. Add in the fact that he never really let his personality show until late in his career after leaving New England, and it’s not surprising that he is viewed as a villain.
But as Heyward stated, he seemed liked a genuine guy, one that was beloved in every locker room he was a part of, on and off the field. Not only that, he helped make the NFL into the machine that it is today, thanks to all his success and GQ-style public ratings early on in his career.
That will never be replicated in the NFL again, at least not any time soon. That’s what Heyward appreciates the most.
There was always a respect factor, but also a disdain and a desire to beat Brady when it came to Heyward on the field. But as he gets older and is in nearing the twilight of his career, there is a reflective part of him that can understand and honor just what Brady meant to the game itself, even if that success came against him in some instances.