Tom Brady had seemingly played his last Super Bowl.
The quarterback extraordinaire confirmed on February 1 that he had decided to retire after completing a second year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But less than six weeks later he has made a stunning U-turn, announcing in a tweet that the 44-year-old is coming back for a 23rd season in the NFL.
It means he could yet go on to extend his record for the most Super Bowls to eight, with the NFL great apparently unwilling to declare on seven.
Brady could have walked away after capturing a sixth Lombardi Trophy with the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII three years ago with his legacy as the greatest of all time secured.
But whether it was down to a desire to outstrip Michael Jordan's six NBA titles, win a Super Bowl without Bill Belichick or simply because of his love of competing and winning, Brady felt the need to keep going further into his 40s in search of a seventh.
That came in emphatic fashion in his first season since leaving Belichick and the Patriots, as the Buccaneers routed the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 at Raymond James Stadium 12 months ago.
The man who entered the NFL as a skinny sixth-round pick in 2000 proved yet again that it is foolish to doubt him, and now he has gone about surprising everyone yet again by deciding that, actually, his time isn't up.
With Brady back for more, Stats Perform ranks his seven wins on the grandest stage.
7. Super Bowl LIII
Brady's last triumph with the Patriots was probably his least impressive, at least in the vacuum of the game itself.
An uninspiring defensive struggle with the Los Angeles Rams unsurprisingly fell in Belichick's favour as he outcoached Sean McVay in a 13-3 win. Brady did, however, connect with Rob Gronkowski for the telling blow, a 29-yard pass that set up Sony Michel for the game's only touchdown.
Boosting Brady here is the fact he led the Patriots to victory over Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, but that's not enough to move it off the bottom of the list.
6. Super Bowl XXXIX
The 2021 Super Bowl was the second in which Brady dealt a defeat to Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, but the 39th edition of the Greatest Show on Earth was a much tighter affair as Brady guided the Patriots to back-to-back Lombardi trophies.
However, Reid, who in this February 2005 game was coaching the Philadelphia Eagles, perhaps bore as much responsibility for the Patriots' victory as Brady. Reid was significantly criticised in the aftermath of the Eagles' 24-21 loss for a lack of time management, their final scoring drive taking up nearly four minutes and making New England's task in closing out the game much easier.
Reid's shortcomings in that regard do not take away from Brady's performance or the achievement in winning successive Super Bowls, one that has not since been repeated. But, in terms of memorable performances, this is not one that ranks highly.
5. Super Bowl XXXVIII
Brady's second Super Bowl win is one that deserves more recognition than it gets as the Patriots held off an underdog Carolina Panthers team that refused to lie down.
After the Panthers overturned a 21-10 deficit to lead in the fourth quarter, Brady led an 11-play drive to restore the Patriots' advantage and, after Carolina responded in kind, orchestrated a game-winning field goal in the final 58 seconds of regulation to secure a 32-29 triumph.
It was a perfect encapsulation of Brady's ability to deliver when the moment is the biggest, one which he has demonstrated time and again with all the marbles on the line.
4. Super Bowl LV
Brady's first Super Bowl win outside of New England may have been one of the most unexpected, but it doesn't quite crack the top three.
There is so much Brady deserves credit for. From taking the chance to leave his familiar surroundings and successfully adapting to a new offense to the manner in which he dissected the Chiefs defense in the first half.
But the Buccaneers' victory was a team performance built as much on a swarming defense that continually had Mahomes running for his life as it was on Brady's prowess leading the offense.
Brady was a deserved winner of the Super Bowl MVP but, without the Bucs' pass rush, this would have been a very different game, one in which the Chiefs' offense may have been able to change the outcome.
3. Super Bowl XXXVI
Brady was not close to being the quarterback he would become, and that is what makes his first Super Bowl still so incredible.
In his second season in the NFL, Brady came in and successfully filled the void after starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe suffered a chest injury in Week 2 of the 2001 season and led them to an 11-5 record, but he was not expected to go blow for blow with the vaunted St. Louis Rams offense.
As it happened, he received significant help from an excellent defensive display by New England, but the defining moment came in the final 90 seconds, with legendary commentator John Madden calling for the Patriots to play for overtime. Belichick had the faith in Brady to go the opposite route.
He promptly delivered a nine-play, 53-yard drive that began the legend, setting up Adam Vinatieri for a 48-yard field goal that clinched a 20-17 win for the Patriots and their first title. For a player of his relative inexperience to deliver in a situation of that magnitude, it remains one of Brady's most remarkable achievements.
2. Super Bowl XLIX
It gets lost with the fact that Brady and the Patriots would have lost this game to the Seattle Seahawks if not for Malcolm Butler's goal-line interception, but his fourth quarter in a 28-24 classic was one of the finest periods produced by any quarterback in the Super Bowl.
The Patriots trailed by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter, but Brady fearlessly and precisely led them on two touchdown drives against one of the best defenses in NFL history to turn the tide in their favour.
Of course, this game will always be remembered for the Seahawks' inexplicable decision to attempt a pass on the one-yard line with victory in their grasp, but the game never gets to that point without what was at the time Brady's greatest comeback effort in the Super Bowl.
1. Super Bowl LI
It was always unlikely Brady would ever top this performance, his Super Bowl piece de resistance.
All seemed lost for Brady when the Patriots trailed 28-3 to the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter, but what followed was an accumulation of all the clutch moments he has produced in his unparalleled career.
The Falcons were reduced to near helpless spectators as Brady masterfully instigated the biggest fightback in Super Bowl history.
When the Patriots won the coin toss to start overtime, their 34-28 triumph was inevitable. Everyone knew what was about to happen, with the Falcons as powerless to stop it as the Chiefs were last year.
It was a revival that added immeasurably to Brady's aura, his desire to collect Super Bowl rings unsurpassed in the sport's history.
Could another be on the way?