If everything goes to plan, Tom Brady will soon enter a place where only a handful of other quarterbacks have gone before: his 40s.
Brady will be 38 years old at the beginning of the 2015 season. He has three years left on his contract, and every indication is that he wants to play as long as humanly possible.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop, he tells teammates that he wants to play “forever” when they ask. In September he told reporters bluntly, “When I suck, I’ll retire. But I don’t plan on sucking for a long time.”
Mark Leibovich of the New York Times asked Brady about his interests beyond football, and he got this response:
Brady ducked my question, except to confirm its premise: that football is pretty much everything to him. No real hobbies. “I’m not a musician, not an artist,” he said. “What am I going to do, go scuba diving?” Yet he comes off as anything but a bonehead football player. He will have to find something one day.
“Maybe not,” Brady said with a laugh.
Every time you read a profile of Brady, the main takeaway is: this guy only cares about football.
He goes to sleep at 8:30 p.m. He doesn’t really drink (he told ESPN in 2013, “You couldn’t pay me to go out after the game.”). He sticks to a diet 12 months a year — a diet so strict he considers ice cream made from avocados a “treat.”
His work ethic and training regimen are legendary, and those two things will be vital in preventing the one thing that can derail his dream playing into his 40s: injuries.
His throwing coach told SI about the work he’s doing off the field, “Tom is pushing back the ageing process. There’s no reason he can’t do at 45 what he did at 25.”
Let’s start here: Brady is a quarterback whose daily schedule, both in and out of season, is mapped clearly into his 40s. Every day of it, micromanaged. Treatment. Workouts. Food. Recovery. Practice. Rest. And those schedules aren’t just for this week, this month, this season. They’re for three years.
Brady has three years left on his contract. If he’s still playing in 2017, the final year of his current deal, he could become just the fourth NFL quarterback to ever start 10 games in a season at 40 years old or older.
Even now, Brady is in rare company. Only 18 quarterbacks have started 10 games in a season at age 38 or older. Since Brett Favre retired in 2010, the only 38+ QB to start that many games is Peyton Manning in 2014.
If Brady gets his way, his longevity might end up being the defining aspect of his legacy.
Brady recently restructured his contract. In effect, he got $US3 million more in salary in exchange for making his contract unguaranteed. The way he restructured his contract actually made it easier for the Patriots to cut him if his form starts to dip.
It’s a bold move, but it’s clear that Brady is doing everything he possibly can to make sure he keeps winning Super Bowls at an age when his peers have long since retired.
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