As we all know, Father Time is undefeated and he'll eventually come for all of us one day. However, Tom Brady has been able to fend him off arguably better than anyone in NFL history. With each passing year, the demise of the ever-aging quarterback is predicted, and time and time again he is able to send Father Time back home licking his wounds, saying the same words Arya Stark told the God of Death: "Not today."
Not only has Brady been able to maintain a high level of play well into his 40s, but he's also doing so while setting a new standard. At age 39, Brady was able to complete 67.4% of his passes, throw for over 3,500 yards, and complete 28 touchdowns with just two interceptions. His 112.2 passer rating that year was the second-best of his carer. Brady also mounted the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, recording his fifth championship. That season was better than any other quarterback at that age (such as Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Warren Moon, or Johnny Unitas), which has become a theme over the last few years.
At 40, Brady followed that campaign up with an MVP season in 2017, again besting Favre for the greatest season of a 40-year-old quarterback, especially when factoring in postseason performance. As Brady reached his 41-year-old season in 2018, the competition for "greatest season by a [inset age] quarterback" was less daunting. Still, Brady was again able to raise the bar, throwing for 4,355 yards and winning his sixth Super Bowl title. Last season, Brady threw for over 4,000 yards for the third consecutive season and led New England to a 12-4 record, which is the greatest season by a 42-year-old quarterback in history.
As we now look toward Brady's 43-year-old season, he'll once again try to defy Father Time and further walk into a realm that few quarterbacks have been able to succeed in before and fewer have even been able to reach. Only four quarterbacks have played a season at age 43 in NFL history: Warren Moon, Doug Flutie, Vinny Testaverde, and George Blanda. Here's how each of them performed during that season.
In 1999, the 43-year-old Moon played in just one game as a backup for the Kansas City Chiefs and threw three passes and completed one of them for 20 yards. That campaign was his second-to-last season in the NFL.
The 2005 season was the final year of Flutie's career and he was a backup to Brady. He completed five of his 10 passes that year for 29 yards. What Flutie is most known for during his New England stint was his infamous drop kick extra point against the Miami Dolphins during the regular-season finale.
Testaverde appeared in just three games during the 2006 season as a backup to Brady. He completed two of his three passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. That season was his second-to-last in the NFL.
Prior to Brady coming around, it was George Blanda who was defying age. In fact, the former quarterback and placekicker played in the NFL until he was 48 (!) years old. During his 43-year-old season in 1970, Blanda appeared in 14 games (zero starts) and completed 52.7% of his passes for 461 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions.
That's it. That's the list.
It should be noted, however, that Steve DeBerg did come out of retirement in 1998 to serve as the backup for the Atlanta Falcons at age 44. He played in eight games (one start) and completed just over 50% of his passes for 369 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, but we can revisit him next year when Brady tries to give it a go at 44.
Those marks from the quarterbacks I mentioned above aren't as big of a mountain to climb for Brady as his 39, 40 and 41-year-old seasons were when he was duking it out with the likes of Manning and Favre for NFL history, which is kind of the point to all this. His consistently strong play sometimes masks just how much Brady is truly marching into uncharted territory for the position.
As we head into 2020, things will be a bit different for him now that he's on the Buccaneers after leaving the Patriots this offseason, but he should still be able to defy the laws of aging. In Tampa, Brady has arguably the best collection of skill position players he's had in quite some time with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, and O.J. Howard leading the group. As long as he stays healthy, Brady should once again raise the bar and have the greatest season any 43-year-old quarterback has ever played.