My friends make fun of me because I joke that Tom Brady is immortal. When the New England Patriots drafted Ryan Mallett the talk of the town was that he would be the heir apparent to Brady; at the time I said "no chance."
I remember being called "delusional" and "biased" by a few people. "Dude, Brady won't be productive in his late 30s, " they scoffed.
Now it's 2014, Brady is 37-years-old, and he's still one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He's 851 passing yards away from 50,000 and 41 touchdowns away from 400 total for his career. There is no doubt that he is one of the greatest players to ever wear an NFL uniform.
Now Mallett is gone after completing only one pass in his three years with the Patriots -- so much for being Brady's replacement.
And yet, people want to have the same conversation we had back in 2010: Jimmy Garoppolo is the successor to Brady. Bill Belichick will cut Brady as soon as Jimmy G is ready to produce at a high-enough level.
But haven't we learned that isn't necessarily the case? Brady is special and there is only a slight chance Garoppolo ever reaches a level that would be adequate enough for that drop in talent.
Not to mention that even though Brady is 37, 40 might just be the new 30 in today's NFL, for quarterbacks at least. No position in this league is better protected so that they can remain healthy and productive for as long as possible. Quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are still playing at an elite level and they are 35 and 38, respectively.
Of course randomness can occur like it did in 2008 with Bernard Pollard's helmet went straight into Brady's knee, tearing his ACL. This is why I know that Tom Brady isn't immortal.
I was at that game and I kid you not: I didn't even know Randy Moss caught a 26-year pass before fumbling it. My eyes were fixed on Brady. I saw his knee bend. I knew something was seriously wrong. I remember hearing the crowd roar after Moss caught the ball, but I was there sitting in the nosebleeds shouting, "Brady's hurt! Brady's hurt!"
As if my cry would change anything.
Moss fumbled, and then the crowed booed. I was still screaming, "Brady's hurt! It's his knee! Oh no!" As he clenched at his knee, only then did the fans realize what had happened. Who cared about the turnover?
I've always known that Brady, as a football player, is not immortal. I joke about it, but that is real to me. In my eyes, Brady is like a god, but I understand that he is not a cyborg.
But that's my point. Pending a random injury that hinders his ability to play football -- and not this minor calf injury he has this week -- then I see no reason why he can't play until his early to mid-40s.
And if it's not the injuries, people always seem to say something like, "Brady has a perfect life. He has a supermodel wife and his kids are growing up. He'll soon realize that there is more to life than football and want to spend more time with family."
That's nonsense. Players like Tom Brady don't just give up their passion. Not only that, but it's probable that he wants football to be a part of his children's lives.
In August, Peter King asked Drew Brees about playing until he's 45-years-old. His answer illuminates why I think Brady (and Brees and Manning) will play until their mid-40s, pending good health.
"It's also something great for your family, too," said Brees. "[We] have three boys, and we're about to have a fourth child. I like having them around to watch my career. I think they like it, too. I want them to be old enough to realize their dad is a football player, and to be able to watch me play. It's a thrill to see that. And I don't want to lose that. I want to keep that as long as I can for them."
Tom Brady was just a 27-year-old kid the last time he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy on February 6, 2005. There is no doubt he'd like his three kids to be there the next time he does it so they can remember it forever, and not just in photographs. Giving up football would only take an incredible unique experience away from his children.
In a weird way, it's like we're all in love with Brady and don't want the feeling to ever go away. We want to experience him in a Patriots uniform for as long as possible, too. He has provided so many highs, but we've also shared the lows. Isn't that love? Even if it is just a one-way street...
So, take a minute to live in the now and just enjoy the moment, and be thankful for the quarterback we are lucky to watch go under center for the New England Patriots. Like Brady said, "When I suck, I'll retire," so let's not worry about the future too much.