Based on what the world saw in the 2017 NFL playoffs, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Tom Brady is going to stick around for a while. Brady just engineered the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, picked up a record fourth Super Bowl MVP award, threw for a record 466 passing yards and a record 43 completions in the Patriots’ 34-28 Super Bowl victory and he didn’t really impress himself with his performance.
In other words, it shouldn’t be surprising if Brady wants to keep playing for a while. He’s 39 years old but he said following the Super Bowl he hurts less now after playing games than he did when he was 25.
And he told Peter King of The MMQB in the second part of a wide-ranging conversation that he has no interest in stepping away any time soon and that he probably isn’t going to make a decision about retiring until his “mid-40s.”
“I’d like to play until my mid-40s,” he told me. “Then I’ll make a decision. If I’m still feeling like I’m feeling today, who knows? Now, those things can always change. You do need long-term goals too. I know next year is not going to be my last year.”
Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL, even most contracts. The greatest players in the history of the game often see their performance fall off a cliff out of nowhere.
But Brady appears to be a different animal. Again: he feels younger than he did 15 years ago, or at least his body doesn’t suffer the same way it did when he was younger. He’s the guy with a $200 cookbook and a very bizarre -- but effective! -- nutritional plan that allows him to operate a higher level than most other people.
Brady was suspended the first four games of the 2016 season because of Deflategate, and missing that time suppressed his overall counting statistics, but he was still one of the top candidates for the MVP award. He was one of the five best players in all of football for the 2016 season.
He can do this because, as he freely admitted to King, he is obsessed with football.
“Other than playing football,” Brady said, “the other thing I love to do is prepare to play football. I’ve worked hard to get a system in place that really works for me and I know could work for everybody else if they just did it. That enables me to play 99 plays [in Super Bowl 51, the most of his career in one game] as a 39-year-old in the last game of the season … Football to me is more than just a sport. It has become my life. Every choice that I make … what I have for breakfast, how I work out, all of those things. I love the game. I love playing.”
Also, like many people approaching the magical age of 40, Brady is taking it a little bit easier on his body by not going out to party with his pals.
“Taking out some things in your lifestyle -- [like] going out with your friends until 1 a.m. I don’t do that anymore,” Brady told King.
He doesn’t miss it, though, because it means he’s healthier and more well rested when the end of the season comes along. It means he can enjoy winning his fourth Super Bowl with friend and family on the field.
Brady has a singular obsession with winning football games. Much like his coach, who is five weeks behind on the 2017 season, he probably feels like winning Super Bowl LI put him a few weeks behind on getting ready to try and win the next Super Bowl.
If you’re expecting him to magically stop caring about winning and/or to just walk away from the game when he’s playing near the peak of his powers, you should probably think again. Brady might be haunting the dreams of AFC East foes for another half decade.
Brady might not care about being known as the best ever, but another few years of this and there won’t be anyone who can dispute it.