After the Patriots won Super Bowl LI with a thrilling 34-28 comeback over the Falcons in which Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP for the fourth time in his career, there were lots of people -- most notably his supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen -- tugging at Brady asking him to retire. Too bad, babe.
Brady isn’t just not thinking about retirement this year, he isn’t think about retirement for a while. He said he plans to play into his “mid-40’s” before making a decision and has, at bare minimum, two years left in the NFL.
So why exactly is Brady gung ho about staying in the NFL so long? He’s in tremendous physical shape for one, but he’s also having a blast. Brady told Peter King of The MMQB in an extended interview that his years of experience make him feel almost unstoppable.
“I have the answers to the test now,” Brady said.
That seems arrogant, but it’s just grounded in truth. Brady has been doing this for 17 years now, working with the greatest coach of all time in Bill Belichick.
“You can’t surprise me on defense. I’ve seen it all. I’ve processed 261 games, I’ve played them all,” Brady said. “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.”
None of this means he’s infallible on the football field. Brady struggled badly during the first half against the Falcons in the Super Bowl. He wasn’t good against Houston in the divisional round of the playoffs. He was horrific during the 2016 AFC Championship Game, when the Broncos and Von Miller put an unholy amount of pressure on him.
If you beat the Patriots offensive line and pressure Brady, you can beat him. But you have to do it with a minimal amount of rushers -- Brady is deadly against the blitz and if he has a numbers advantage with his receivers, its ballgame.
For Brady, it’s also fun when the people he’s working with are on the same page. And few QB-coach duos are on the same page quite like Brady and Bill Belichick.
“I can only speak from my standpoint as a quarterback dealing with the head coach whose sole focus is winning games,” Brady said. “It’s not about public relations, it’s not about selling PSLs, it’s not about being a leader at the pep rally. I have so much respect for Coach Belichick because I think there are two things that he wants in his players because there are two things that he gives us as a coach, and that is consistency and dependability. He is the most consistent coach that I could ever imagine playing for. Every day is the same.
“He comes in and says, ‘We are going to put you guys in the position to win and you guys gotta go do it. Don’t count on the crowd, don’t count on the refs. Don’t make excuses, just do it. Just get the job done … And when you come to the team you buy in because it works and it is the truth.”
Now, it is worth noting, as King points out, that Brady is only going to be working with Belichick for as long as Brady is capable of playing well. If he falls off a cliff and starts to struggle, Belichick won’t hesitate to replace him. Just ask Drew Bledsoe how that works.
But given the way Brady has played the last few years, there’s little reason to believe that he’s going to start slowing down anytime soon, even if his age almost demands it. Father Time remains undefeated, but Brady is trying to take him deep in this fight.