Though it seems impossible, given a 22-year playing career overloaded with virtually every honor and award conceivable, Tom Brady added a new one on Thursday night, nine days after he announced his retirement.
During the annual NFL Honors show on Thursday night, Brady was announced as the winner of this season's FedEx Air Player of the Year award. Incredibly, it was the first time he has won that particular honor, which was first created in 2003. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback was the NFL's 2021 league leader in both passing yards (5,316) and touchdown passes (43).
The FedEx Air Player of the Year award winner was chosen by a fan vote on NFL.com. The three finalists were Brady, the Los Angeles Chargers' Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Rams' Matthew Stafford.
If Brady's previously lack of a FedEx Player of the Year award was a surprise, his selection in 2021 was not. He won the FedEx Air Player of the Week award three times during the regular season, including Weeks One and Two and Week 18.
Brady led the NFL in completions and attempts, as well, hitting on 485 of his 719 passes during the regular season. He set new Buccaneer single-season records in all four of those categories and a new NFL record for completions in a season. His passing yards ranked as the third most in a single season in league history and his attempts were the second most. He joined Aaron Rodgers as the only quarterbacks to throw 40 or more touchdowns in a season three times, and Drew Brees as the only ones to do so in consecutive seasons.
Brady threw for 300 or more yards in nine of the Bucs' 17 games and tossed three or more touchdown passes in eight of those contests, finishing with a passer rating of 102.1. His explosive and steady production helped the Buccaneers tie for the NFL's best record at 13-4 before beating Philadelphia in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs and ultimately falling to the Rams in the Divisional Round.