Tom Brady has officially retired from the NFL, making the announcement Tuesday morning on his Instagram page. After spending 22 years in the league, the 44-year-old leaves the sport universally considered the greatest quarterback of all time.

It came as a surprise to many when reports circulated Saturday that Brady was ready to step away from professional football. Why would Brady retire after another stellar season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

“I have always believed the sport of football is an 'all-in' proposition -- if a 100% competitive commitment isn't there, you won't succeed, and success is what I love so much about our game,” Brady said on Instagram. “There is a physical, mental and emotional challenge EVERY single day that has allowed me to maximize my highest potential. And I have tried my very best these past 22 years. There are no shortcuts to success on the field or in life.”

Brady denied reports that he decided to retire as late as Monday, only to make the announcement less than 24 hours later. The signal-caller plans to focus his time and energy on other areas of his life.

“I've done a lot of reflecting the past week and have asked myself difficult questions,” Brady said. “And I am so proud of what we have achieved. My teammates, coaches, fellow competitors and fans deserve 100% of me, but right now, it's best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes.”

Just one year removed from winning his fifth Super Bowl MVP award, Brady might still be the league’s best quarterback. In the 2021 season, Brady led all signal-callers with 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdown passes. Brady will likely finish second in the NFL MVP race behind only Aaron Rodgers.

“My playing career has been such a thrilling ride, and far beyond my imagination, and full of ups and downs,” Brady said. “When you're in it every day, you really don't think about any kind of ending.

"As I sit here now, however, I think of all the great players and coaches I was privileged to play with and against -- the competition was fierce and deep, JUST HOW WE LIKE IT. But the friendships and relationships are just as fierce and deep. I will remember and cherish these memories and re-visit them often. I feel like the luckiest person in the world.”

Brady retires with countless NFL records, including seven Super Bowl championships, 35 playoff wins and 84,520 passing yards.