He has been voted to yet another Pro Bowl, is the frontrunner to win the Most Valuable Player award and has his team as the AFC's top playoff seed yet again. By all accounts, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is having yet another highly successful season. What makes it even more impressive is the fact that Brady did it on the other side of the NFL's magical age-barrier, at 40 years old.
During his age 40 regular season, the future Hall of Fame passer set numerous records for a player his age: Brady, for example, has thrown for 4,577 yards on 581 pass attempts while being part of 13 wins. However, he did not fully re-write the record books and by extension redefine what it means to be a quarterback in his 40s. After all, Brett Favre also has had a successful season after he celebrated the big 4-O.
In fact, some of Favre's statistics were actually better than Brady's. The long-time Green Bay Packers quarterback, who spent his last two years with the Minnesota Vikings looked rejuvenated after his 40th birthday: In 2009, Favre set new records for quarterbacks over 40 in pretty much every major passing category and has Brady beat in touchdowns (33 > 32), interceptions (8 > 7) and completion percentage (68.4 > 66.3).
Brady's age 40 season nevertheless holds up well versus Favre's, especially when considering New England's offensive injury situation this season. And New England's quarterback can still set himself apart from the Hall of Famer over the next few weeks by doing something Favre failed to do in 2009: lead his team to a championship.
Favre's season that year, which earned him Pro Bowl honors for the 11th time in his career, was followed by a trip to the NFC title game. However, versus the eventual Super Bowl-winning New Orleans Saints, Favre and the Vikings failed to bring their A-game and ultimately lost 31-28 in overtime after an ugly interception by the superstar quarterback ended what might have been the game-winning drive.
Brady has yet to enter the playoffs; he will do so on January 13. Another performance like last year's, though – when he led the Patriots to their fifth Vince Lombardi Trophy – will help him leave no doubt as to who is the gold standard for players at the age of 40. Given Brady's season and his big-game success in the past, it would not be a surprise to see this happen.