Is This the Final Season for Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady?
Most men seem to find that 40 is some kind of magical number. The body seems to slow down, it is harder to keep weight off, and the mental faculties don’t seem to be as acute as they once were. That’s why it’s surprising that Tom Brady is lacing up the cleats for his 19th season with the New England Patriots, leaving many wondering if this will be the last season in illustrious career.
Delivering the Goods
Tom Brady was 41 years old when the 2018 NFL season got underway on Sunday. Most quarterbacks have been retired five years before reaching that magical age, but most quarterbacks are not Tom Brady.
The Patriots quarterback is coming off a spectacular season where he led his team to a 13-3 record and a trip to the Super Bowl, his eighth trip to the championship game. Brady put up stellar numbers, throwing for 4577 yards in 581 attempts, the seventh time in the last eight seasons that he has had at least 500 pass attempts.
In addition, the quarterback threw for 32 touchdowns, the sixth time in his last eight seasons that he has had at least 30. Most impressive was the fact that he only threw eight interceptions, ranking him in the top five for the least interceptions thrown by any NFL quarterback.
While all of these numbers are impressive, the one that stands out above them all is the fact that Brady appeared in all 16 games the Patriots played last season, starting them all. For a 40-year-old who was sacked 35 times last season, that’s pretty impressive.
Athletes Have Succeeded Beyond 40
A few seasons back, Tom Brady made the bold prediction that he would play until he was 50. Many in the media scoffed at that number, believing that it was absolutely impossible. “He would be lucky to play at a high level at 40,” they quipped. How wrong they were.
Surprisingly, the sports world is littered with star players who have played well beyond the age of 40. This starts with the great Johnny Unitas who was 40 when he finally retired. George Blanda, the Hall of Fame quarterback and kicker, played until he was 48. Brett Favre excelled up until age 41.
Other sports have had star players continue to dominate the field of play into their 40s. Guard John Stockton played in all 82 games when he was 41. Hank Aaron was an All-Star at 40. Kareem Abdul-Jabar helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA finals at age 42, and hockey legend Gordie Howe played until he was 52. The great Satchel Paige threw three innings for the Kansas City A’s at the age of 59, so there can be success long after 40.
In fact, 20 quarterbacks have played beyond the age of 40. However, playing when you are over 40 and leading a team to championships are two entirely different things. In 2016, Peyton Manning became the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, doing it at the age of 39, but it was a rather pedestrian performance, going 13 of 23 for 141 yards and an interception, not exactly the numbers Manning fans had become accustomed to.
Tom Brady reached the Super Bowl last season at the age of 40, where he turned in an exceptional performance. Against one of the top defenses in the NFL, Brady threw for 505 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-33 lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. He also was sacked just one time, proving that Brady not only has the arm strength and accuracy, but still knows how to elude a pass rush.
One week into the 2018 season the Patriots quarterback is off to a fast start. Against a tough Houston Texans defense, Brady threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, completing 66.7 percent of his passes in a 27-20 victory.
Not All Are Happy He’s on the Field
While New England Patriots fans, and maybe even fans of the NFL are excited to see Tom Brady suiting up each week, there is one person who has longed to see the quarterback hang it up – his wife, Gisele Bündchen. Over the last two seasons, she has made it perfectly clear that she would like to see her husband hang up his cleats.
This was made perfectly clear a day after the loss to the Eagles when Brady told host Jim Miller of the NFL Radio Show that his wife has been prodding him to step aside. “If it was up to my wife, she would have me retire today. She told me that last night three times.”
The supermodel may want to see her husband leave football for good, but no one should be planning a retirement banquet yet. In the same interview, Brady also made it perfectly clear that football is still too big of a part of his life to call it quits. “I said, ‘Too bad, babe, I’m having too much fun right now.’ You know, I feel like I can still do it and if you love what you do and you’re capable of doing it then –” he ended with the open-ended response.
While other AFC team fans would love to see Tom Brady hang it up, that may not be coming soon. The New England quarterback has led his team to the Super Bowl in three of the last four seasons. That’s proof that not only is he still one of the top two quarterbacks in the NFL, but it also shows that the AFC is a rather weak conference right now. Why quit when no one can catch you?
The road to the Super Bowl goes through New England and as long as Tom Brady is there it will continue to do so. So, if you’re expecting the Patriots quarterback to hang it up at the end of this season, you may be just as disappointed as Gisele Bündchen is going to be.
Featured Image Courtesy of Business Insider/David J. Phillip-AP
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