In the NFL, 35 is considered old. Few players make it over this threshold and still remain successful among colleagues that are in a lot of cases more than 10 years younger. However, those who do survive in the league that long are oftentimes still at the top of their game, especially at positions that pose a slightly different athletic challenge than most. The quarterback spot is the best example, and 2018 serves as a perfect reminder of that.
39-year old New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and the Los Angeles Chargers’ 36-year old Philip Rivers are both in the middle of arguably their best seasons to date. The Pittsburgh Steelers’s 36-year old Ben Roethlisberger, meanwhile, and soon-to-be 35-year old Green Bay Packers passer Aaron Rodgers also still play at the same high level as they used to in their earlier days in the NFL.
And then, there is Tom Brady At 41, he is the league’s oldest quarterback (and oldest non-kicker in general) and he keeps defying expectations of what being an older play in the NFL means. Since turning 35 in the offseason leading into the 2012 season, Brady has led the New England Patriots to two Super Bowl trophies, and has won a combined three MVP awards (one regular season, two in the title game).
2018 is more of the same. While Brady’s statistical output looks comparatively pedestrian when compared to his ridiculously productive last three seasons, he still is very much in the conversation as the league’s best quarterback. And even though he finds himself in unchartered territory for players his age he keeps adding to his already legendary résumé — and according to the man himself, he plans to keep doing it.
“I’d like to go till I’m 45,” Brady told NBC Sports’ Peter King after Sunday night’s victory over the Green Bay Packers and fellow old man quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “I know I said that a hundred times, and no one believes me. But I mean, I feel good. I could go play another game tomorrow. I know what to do. It’s fun. What else would you rather do than run out in front of 70,000 people and throw a football?”
While Brady regularly pointed out his goal of playing until turning 45, he put on a more cautiously sounding tone this offseason. Of course, his remarks also left plenty of room for interpretation: he told Oprah Winfrey that he thinks about retirement more than he used to and also spoke in an interview with his own TB12 brand about “seeing the end line now.” His most recent statements, however, leave little doubt about what he wants to do.
Brady being asked about hanging up his cleats is nothing new. Back in 2014, for example, the then-37-year old told WEEI that he will retire when his game is no longer up to the lofty standards he sets for himself. “When I suck, I’ll retire,” the future Hall of Famer said before continuing: “I don’t plan on sucking for a long time.” We are nine weeks into the 2018 season and Brady is still far from sucking. 45 seems to be as realistic as it has ever been.