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Farewell, Tom Brady, and thanks for all the memes

With TB12 retiring, a look back at the GOAT memes he's inspired.

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Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Tom Brady officially confirmed his retirement on Tuesday after 22 years in the NFL. To put things in perspective, Brady started playing quarterback in the NFL in the year 2000. That's the year of Bush vs. Gore, the year Jennifer Aniston married Brad Pitt, and the year Gladiator won best picture at the Oscars. Brady's been a part of the cultural conversation for decades, and his nine Super Bowls have only added to that.

My absolute favorite Tom Brady meme was the giant puffy coat he wore to the 2017 AFC Championship game. Meme-makers grabbed the photos and ran them into the end zone, using editing software to inflate the already huge coat even more.

Brady's wobbly walk at the 2021 Super Bowl also earned him a place in the meme world.

His smashing of a Microsoft Surface tablet on the sidelines in December, and the fake viral video showing Brady making a ton of perfect passes, also gained meme status.

So no one should be surprised that Brady's retirement was good for some memes and jokes as well.

There was plenty of Brady praise going around, as with this tweet declaring, "Tom Brady has won 12.7 percent of all Super Bowls in history."

Others imagined what the rest of the NFL was thinking when Brady hung up his cleats (spoiler: relief). One featured a very insincere Squidward telling SpongeBob SquarePants he'd miss him, and "good luck somewhere else!"

It's only fitting that Tom Brady's retirement produces the same kind of meme attention that his career did. You can debate about whether or not he's football's greatest of all time quarterback, but he was definitely the most meme-able.

Many jokes centered on the sheer length of Brady's career. Wrote one person, "If only Brady had better longevity... We'll always wonder how great he could have been."

There was a bit of a different reaction in places that don't play American football. 

Wrote one person, "You won't find a single arena that plays his game in the whole World! .. nothing!"

Brady beat my teams more times than I'd like to think about, but one thing is for sure: I'll still kind of miss laughing at that puffy coat.