Tom Brady turns 40 this summer and has, over the past 17 years, played a whopping 261 NFL games. Most recently, in Super Bowl 51, before he could lead his team back from a 28-3 deficit in the 3rd quarter he had to endure quite the beating — nine hits and five sacks.
After the win, Brady may have cemented himself as the greatest quarterback in football history, but nobody would blame him for feeling a little, you know, tired.
And yet when Sports Illustrated’s Peter King caught up with Brady at an undisclosed lair in the mountains of Montana, Brady said he felt fresher than ever.
“I have zero pain,” Brady told King one week after the Super Bowl. “I feel great. I feel 100 per cent.”
Here’s how King described Brady’s overall demeanour, again, one week after as tough a Super Bowl as he’s had.
“Brady had a zen look to him on a brilliant afternoon in Big Sky country. Clear eyes, zero bloodshot. Placid. No limping, no wincing, which took me by surprise after Atlanta’s five sacks and nine significant hits of Brady in the game. And there’s this: Brady has played 261 NFL games, and never has he taken as many (99) snaps as he did against Atlanta. But when we talked, he looked like he’d been relaxing for a month — not just having arrived here Saturday from a hectic post-Super Bowl week in Boston. He went skiing Sunday on a pristine trail with fresh powder.”
Now let’s compare Brady’s casual declaration that he has zero pain to how some other veteran NFL quarterbacks talked about their bodies and their outlooks going forward at earlier points this year.
Here’s Carson Palmer, 37, six weeks removed from a season in which his team did not make the playoffs:
“My intent was to take some time after the season to get away and see where I was physically and mentally,” Palmer said.
And here’s Ben Roethlisberger, 34, after losing in the AFC Championship to the Patriots:
“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” Roethlisberger said. “To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season.”
Quotes like these are to be expected from veteran quarterbacks, and only make Brady’s words more striking. Palmer and Roethlisberger have both struggled with injuries over the course of their career, but then so has Brady. What veteran quarterback hasn’t?
Brady’s longevity, and his desire to play well into his 40s, is by no means an underreported story at this point. The guy lives a monastic lifestyle, goes to sleep practically at the same time as his small children and employs a full-time “body guru,” whose nebulous job is to make sure Brady is feeling good. You do not eat avocado ice cream as an indulgent dessert unless you are singularly obsessed with continuing to stay in peak physical condition. Frankly, in some ways the more surprising anecdote from King’s piece is that Brady would go skiing.
But again, think about Brady’s quotes in contrast with those from Palmer and Roethlisberger. Professional football is getting younger, careers are getting shorter. Save for a few kickers, football players are not supposed to continue to start in the NFL into their 40s. Certainly they are not expected to continue to win championships and sound — just one week later — like a Super Bowl run was about as gruelling as a turkey trot.
Tom Brady is not normal. What else is new?
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