Although Tom Brady has been suspended for the first four games of the upcoming season, he still has every intention of playing football well into the future. In an email made public from the NFLPA’s counterclaim against the NFL earlier this week, Brady, who just turned 38, told his friend Kevin Brady (no relation) that he feels he can play for seven or eight more years. He also believes that longtime rival Peyton Manning only has two years left.
After being sent an article about his rivalry with Manning, Brady wrote an email back saying, “Thanks popa. I’ve got another 7 or 8 years. He has 2. That’s the final chapter. Game on.”
The Grantland article to which both Kevin and Tom are referring here is a Bill Simmons column from October 2014 that discusses at length the twilights of Manning and Brady’s careers. There’s one anecdote buried deep in the piece that quotes Julian Edelman talking about Brady being then 37 and with no desire to retire. Here’s Simmons:
I asked him how long Brady could keep playing, and without hesitation, Edelman said, “As long as he wants.”
Edelman nodded. He described Brady as a “football machine,” adding, “He’s in bed by eight thirty every night!” He had never seen anything like Tom Brady. He couldn’t imagine Brady NOT playing football. Six more years, at least. That’s what he believed.
In a separate email, Brady praised the Simmons article, calling it a “great story:”
“wow…great story…amazing to me that he is so accurate without much information…. “know thyself and to thy own self be true”…my goal has never been to be the greatest ever…my goal has been to win every day i take the field and to prove to myself that i am the best i can be every day. march or november…this ride aint over yet popa.”
It turns out that Edelman’s assessment didn’t give Brady as much credit as Brady gives himself. Eight more years in the NFL would make the Patriots quarterback 45-years-old at the start of the 2023 season. Only three quarterbacks have ever started a regular season game in the NFL at age 44, per Pro-Football-Reference. No one has ever played quarterback in the NFL at age 45. Most recently, 44-year-old Vinny Testeverde started for the Carolina Panthers in 2007.
Brady structures his entire life so that he can stay healthy and competitive for the upcoming seasons, so perhaps his assessment of himself here isn’t that insane. According to an interview with MMQB’s Peter King from last year, Brady says he feels better now, well into his 30s, than he did at 25:
“You know, you don’t have to suck when you get older.”
“It’s hard to explain this to people, but the commitment I make, in terms of keeping my body in shape and my nutrition right, should make me healthy. I feel better today than when I was 25, and I know that’s hard for people to believe, but I do. I work at it. Basically, I work all off-season to prepare my body to not get hurt. I can’t help the team if I’m on the sidelines. I’ve got to be durable.”
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