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Sorry, NFL: Patriots QB Tom Brady is now open to playing beyond the age of 45

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The Patriots quarterback will reassess when he gets to 45.

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady set a goal to play football until he turned 45 years old because his throwing coach, Tom House, told him that he might be able to play until he was 43-45 years old.

Well, Brady still wants to play until he’s 45, according to MMQB’s Peter King. And then Brady wants some time to reflect, and possibly play even longer.

“I’d like to play until my mid-forties,” Brady told King. “Then I’ll make a decision. If I’m still feeling like I’m feeling today, who knows? Now those things can always change. You do need long-term goals too. I know next year is not going to be my last year.”

If I’m still feeling like I’m feeling today, who knows? has to be a scary thought for the rest of the NFL. You mean the nightmare might not be over when Brady turns 45? Brady has improved in each of the past three seasons and he’s aiming to get better in his age-40 season in 2017. Brady told King that the game is even more fun now because he knows what is coming every time he steps to the line.

“I have the answers to the test now,” Brady said. “You can’t surprise me on defense. I’ve seen it all. I’ve processed 261 games, I’ve played them all. It’s an incredibly hard sport, but because the processes are right and are in place, for anyone with experience in their job, it’s not as hard as it used to be. There was a time when quarterbacking was really hard for me because you didn’t know what to do. Now I really know what to do, I don’t want to stop now. This is when it’s really enjoyable to go out.”

So long as Brady has his physical capabilities, his mental game will allow him to dominate opposing defenses. No quarterback should be allowed to score on five straight drives in the Super Bowl against the best team the NFC has to offer. No quarterback should be getting better at this point in their career.

We always hear about Brady eating avocado ice cream, and Brady avoiding tomatoes and dairy and coffee and fun and strawberries, but the quarterback’s ability to remain on the field goes far beyond his diet. It’s his training regimen and the mentality behind the strategy that keeps Brady atop the league.

“Strength is very important to your job,” Brady said. “But how much strength do you need? You only need the strength to withstand the hits and throw the ball and make your movements of being a quarterback. You need conditioning because you need to be able to do that over a period of time, certainly a season. You need muscle pliability—long, soft muscles in order to be durable.”

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick always says that availability and durability is more important than ability because a player in the training room won’t be as much help as one on the field. Brady has taken that lesson to heart.

“If you’re a receiver, and you have a great game, say you have eight catches,” Brady explained. “And you play eight games a season and you're hurt the other eight. Eight catches times eight games is 64. That's a below average season for any receiver. If you play 16 games with an average of eight catches you're an all-pro.

“The difference is durability. How do you work on durability? That’s what I’ve figured out. I know how to be durable. It’s hard for me to get hurt, knock on wood. Anything can happen in football. But I want to put myself in a position to be able to withstand the car crash before I get in the car crash.”

Quick napkin math: Julian Edelman was the only Patriots player to exceed 64 receptions in 2016. The three players to record 128+ receptions in a single season in NFL history were named First Team All Pro (Colts WR Marvin Harrison, 2002; Steelers WR Antonio Brown, 2014-15; Falcons WR Julio Jones, 2015).

Brady is right in his pursuit of durability, as he cited the late-career injuries and surgeries for all of the great quarterbacks. These devastating injuries are what he’s trying to avoid by being pliable.

While Brady wants to remain a Patriot for life, he knows that it takes just one injury to derail a career, and any decline in performance could lead to his departure. He’s just going to do everything in power to prevent the Patriots from having to make the tough decision.

“I don't ever want to play for another coach,” Brady told King. “I don't want to play for another owner. But this is professional sports. I've seen some of the best players I've ever played with on other teams. I've seen Jerry Rice play for the Raiders, Joe Montana play for the Chiefs, Brett Favre play for a lot of teams. You never know. That's why I want to keep taking care of what I need to take care of. That's what it comes down to. I want to take care of Tom Brady. I want to make sure Tom is available to the team, Tom is playing at a high level, so the team wants to keep him.”

And if Tom at age 45 feels like and is playing like Tom at age 39, then we might start hearing more about how Brady wants to play until his 50th birthday.