Brady is older, but no one expects lesser

by Gary Shelton on August 4, 2021

in general

Tom Brady isn't over the hill yet./TIM WIRT

Wednesday, 3 a.m.

Think of the yards, almost 80,000 of them. Think of the touchdowns, 581 of them. Think of the Super Bowls he's won (seven).

Now ask yourself.

Is Tom Brady old yet?

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Think of games he's won, 230 of them in the regular season alone. Think of the cornerbacks he's chased out of the league. Think the money he's made, more than $291 million.

And ask it again. Is Brady old yet?

But for all the moments, and for all the memories, you can think of it like this.

Brady is some 20 years older than a staggering 44 players he's currently in training camp with.

Brady turned 44 Tuesday, ancient for an NFL football player.

Oh, in some corners, and certainly not on the record, a defensive coach or two might hint at Brady's age. That's part of what drives Brady, too. Go on. Tell him he's old. It fuels him.

"He's got an amazing fire to him," is the way his coach, Bruce Arians, puts it.

Look, other quarterbacks have played into the 40s. The thing that sets Brady apart is that he's still the lead conductor on a championship team. He's still as important as anyone on the team's roster.

Consider this. George Blanda, the old Raider, played until he was 48. But he was 42 when he made his last start, which was his only start in his 40s.

Drew Brees was 42. Brett Favre was 41. Peyton Manning was 39. But 38 seems to be the key age -- Joe Montana, John Elway, Dan Marino Eli Manning and Kurt Warner were done at 38. Terry Bradshaw was 35. Joe Namath and Troy Aikman were 34.

"Just watch him prepare, watch him practice," Arians said. "Nobody's more intense out there than him. Nobody's harder on himself than he is, and that allows him to be hard on other people. The way he prepares and the way he plays should be the shining light for all young players to watch and get guided."

Oh, they're watching. Even offensive guard Alex Kappa mentioned it Tuesday.

"It’s pretty crazy honestly," Kappa said. "It’s pretty insane when you think about it. I think with Tom it’s all about attention to detail with everything in his preparation and how he is on and off the field. I think that’s what really separates him. He doesn’t take anything for granted – every detail is accounted for.”

Wide receiver Chris Godwin praised Brady for sticking with him in the middle of last season's slump.

“It meant a lot – it just spoke to how much he trusts me that even in a down moment or a little slump,," Godwin said. " ‘You’re one of my guys, I’m going to keep going to you because I know that you’re going to make the play.’ For me personally, just fighting and digging to pull myself out of that little hole, it’s what you have to do. It’s about holding yourself accountable, it’s about perseverance, it’s about pulling yourself up and getting ready for the team - because at the end of the day, I just want to be there to make plays for my team and be accountable, be a reliable guy for them.

"So, to be able to make those plays in Green Bay that helped send us to the Super Bowl, that meant the world to me. That’s something I’m going to forever cherish and those moments throughout the playoffs are ones that are going to help me continue to grow as a player.”  

Receiver Tyler Johnson said Brady knows his teammates.

"He’s very coachable," Johnson said. "He definitely knows everybody on the team. Great guy – it’s a blessing to be around him, one of the greats. It’s just so cool to see when he coaches you up on the little things. He studies every player. He knows the ins and outs and what to do and what not to do. It just a blessing to be in this position and to be around him.”

So what can Tampa Bay expect from an older Brady?

They can expect moments. They can expect statistics. They can expect victories.

All of it.

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