Tom Brady "set a standard that players will chase for years" during his storied NFL career that commissioner Roger Goodell paid tribute to following the legendary quarterback's retirement.

An ESPN report on Saturday revealed Brady was set to bring his career to a close after 22 seasons in the NFL.

Those claims were soon disputed, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar "still going through the process" on Monday as he discussed his future.

But Tuesday brought an official statement from the 44-year-old on his Instagram page.

Brady commented that the sport required "100 per cent competitive commitment" but he could no longer live up to that expectation, choosing instead to focus "time and energy on other things that require my attention".

His retirement sees the NFL lose an icon and star who has thrilled audiences for nearly quarter of a century, with his seven Super Bowl wins unmatched by anyone in the sport's history, and Goodell paid tribute to Brady's longevity and legacy.

"Tom Brady will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play in the NFL," Goodell said in a statement.

"An incredible competitor and leader, his stellar career is remarkable for its longevity but also for the sustained excellence he displayed year after year.

"Tom made everyone around him better and always seemed to rise to the occasion in the biggest moments.

"His record five Super Bowl MVP awards and seven Super Bowl championships set a standard that players will chase for years.

"He inspired fans in New England, Tampa and around the world with one of the greatest careers in NFL history. 

"It has been a privilege to watch him compete and have him in the NFL. We thank him for his many contributions to our game and wish Tom and his family all the best in the future."

Roger Goodell remains unsatisfied with the level of minority hires for head coaching roles in the NFL, while he has also revealed his hope that international games can return in 2021. 

Only two of seven vacant head coach positions have been filled by a diverse candidate, with the New York Jets hiring Robert Saleh – the first NFL coach known to be Muslim – and the Houston Texans appointing David Culley, who becomes just one of three black head coaches currently in the league. 

NFL commissioner Goodell noted positives in other positions but said alternative avenues to encourage more diversity will be explored. 

"It's much broader than just head coaches for us, but the head coaches are important, and we put a lot of our policies and focus on that this year as you know," Goodell said at a pre-Super Bowl LV news conference.  

"We had two minority coaches hired this year, but it wasn't what we expected and it's not what we expect going forward.  

"So, for us we want to continue to look and see what went right and what went wrong. There needs to be visual discussions with candidates both successful and unsuccessful candidates of the teams and try to understand it.  

"They're not the outcomes we wanted and we're committed more than ever to make sure that we do that but we want it to be a natural process. We want it to be a process that is what we believe in diversity is making us better ultimately." 

The coronavirus pandemic led to the cancellation of five games that were due to take place in London and Mexico City last year due to uncertainty over travel amid the global health crisis.

Goodell is planning for the international fixtures to return to the calendar this year, though warned the league is ready to pull the plug again if the situation demands such action. 

"We are planning for our international games in 2021. That's the approach we're going to take, we obviously are going to stay in close contact with our partners in the UK and in Mexico and make sure that we are doing that safely," he added.  

"If at any point in time, we don't think we could execute that safely we will make that determination like last year. I think we ended up deciding not to play the international sometime right before the schedule was announced.  

"I think it was in April and that I think that was done after a lot of consultation not only with our medical officials, but also looking at the risks with the Players Association of travelling the entire party over in a stadium where we weren't able to implement our protocols. 

"So, we hope to get back there and we're planning for it and we'll make that decision whenever we have enough information to do so."

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