40 years ago, Jimmy Carter was taking over for Gerald Ford as President of the United States. Computer company Apple was incorporated, Elvis Presley and Groucho Marx died and the movie “Saturday Night Fever” became a huge success. It was a time of change, a time of adventure.
And unnoticed by the world at the time, the greatest quarterback to ever play football was born in the town of San Mateo, California: Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. Today, Tom Brady celebrates his 40th birthday – and is thus entering semi-unchartered territories as far as quarterbacking is concerned.
The New England Patriots’ quarterback enters a circle of only 22 players in the Super Bowl era who have thrown a pass while over 40 years old. Among them are Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice as well as three punters and a place kicker. That leaves 17 pure quarterbacks to attempt a pass after celebrating their 40th birthday. And in 2017, Brady will become the 18th to do just that.
A total of 32 NFL seasons have been played by passers above 40. Hall of Famer Warren Moon and former number one overall draft pick and Brady backup Vinny Testaverde lead the way with five such seasons. Doug Flutie (4), Earl Morrall (3), Mark Brunell (2) and Brett Favre (2) are the only other players to add more than one campaign to the list – the statistically best of which coming from Favre.
In 2009, the Hall of Famer set the bar for quarterbacking over the age of 40: He completed 68.4% of his pass attempts and threw for 4,202 yards, 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions while leading the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC championship game. Given that he has shown no signs of slowing down just yet, it would not be a surprise to see Brady at least be similarly successful this upcoming season.
After all, this is what Brady has done his entire career: Defy the odds and do what has been deemed impossible. Continuing playing at his peak level well into his 40s would just be the latest on his incredibly list of achievements. The journey starts today.