The only coach and owner Tom Brady has known in his 20-season NFL career praised their departing quarterback on Tuesday. Calling Brady "a special person and the greatest quarterback of all-time," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said: "Tom was not just a player who bought into our program. He was one of its original creators." Brady announced earlier in the day that he won't be back with New England next season. His decision brings an end to the most successful head coach-quarterback combination in the history of the league, NFL.com reports, with six Super Bowl victories. "Nothing about the end of Tom's Patriots career changes how unfathomably spectacular it was," Belichick's statement says.
Brady was welcome to stay, team owner Robert Kraft says. "If Tom wanted to remain a Patriot, we would have had a deal," he said, per the NFL Network's Mike Giardi. "I had hoped this day would never come," Kraft's statement says, "but rather that Tom would end his remarkable career in a Patriots uniform after yet another Super Bowl championship." The Patriots made Brady the 199th draft pick overall in 2000. At that time, Kraft said Tuesday, "no one could have imagined the fairytale story that would be written, the records that would be broken or the joy he would bring to an entire region." Brady has not said what his next career move is. Kraft said he now looks forward to Brady's return someday to be honored by the Patriots, adding, "I love him very much." (Read more Tom Brady stories.)