BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – For about the 40th time this week, the 40-year-old was asked about retirement.
“Why does everyone want me to retire so bad?” Tom Brady said. “I don’t get it.”
Presumably the media asking doesn’t want him to retire. This would be one boring Super Bowl without the star attraction of a game between New England and Philadelphia that otherwise lacks stars. The Eagles would probably be cool with Brady hanging it up before kickoff. Same with many others in the NFL.
One day it will happen. This day will not be that day, at least according to Brady.
“I’m having fun,” Brady said. “I’m not thinking about retirement. I’m thinking about the Super Bowl.”
This week listening to Brady, his teammates and his coaches, it’s clear this is the same old guy. He’s focused. He’s prepared. He’s looking to the task at hand. He’s given no indication that he might walk away if, say, the Pats win a sixth Super Bowl, confetti leading him off to retirement.
It was noted to Brady that in 1998, Steve DeBerg actually started a game for Atlanta at age 44 and was on the Falcons roster that year in the Super Bowl at 45. Warren Moon and Vinny Testaverde both started games at quarterback at 44 also. George Blanda was mostly a quarterback in his career and played to 48, but he last started at QB at age 41.
Brady is young if you look at it that way.
“Great credit to him,” Brady said of DeBerg. “I’ve always said I wanted to play my mid-40s.
“We’ll see. Football is such a physical sport. Every game really could be your last game. It’s the reality of this sport.
“I’d love to plan for those things,” Brady continued. “I try to work hard at the things I need to, to allow my body to be ready week after week, year after year. I’ve got a good routine that really works for me. Especially over the last 10-12 years. So as long as I feel I am going to make the commitment to do those things, I feel like my body will be able to allow me to do that.
“But that is, obviously, knock on wood.”
What happens on Sunday will determine whether this was a good or bad week in the life of Tom Brady, it’s clear he’s enjoyed himself in Minnesota so far. Maybe age has brought some perspective. Maybe all the titles won have driven him to appreciate the moment. Maybe it’s just being back here, a few hours from the farm him mother grew up on and where he spent many summers as a kid.
He keeps saying he is home.
He’s been more effusive with the media. He’s told stories about hunting, fishing and milking cows. He’s also talked about the time he got sick from chewing tobacco and the two times he was bit by a dog. He’s detailed various hijinks with his cousins, sisters and even children.
Brady often doesn’t say much. He has this week.
He could retire after the game with his legacy and bank account secure. He just doesn’t want to. Whatever frustrations the grind of the job or the length of the season brought this year, he looks over it.
“I just really love playing football,” he said.
He acknowledges the time away from his family is a downside. The hours are endless. The pressure considerable. He says his teammates wind up being a family “because I spend more time with them.” Other than being there more for his children’s lives though, this is it.
He’s also, he said, figured out how to manage a work-life balance a little better. Sunday will be his 290th regular or postseason game in the NFL. He knows not just what he has to do to prepare, but what he doesn’t have to do.
“I think I am more efficient,” Brady said. “I don’t think there are any wasted moments in the day. If it’s mental, it’s mental. If it’s physical, I know what to do to prepare myself.”
Counting the playoffs, he’s thrown 37 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions during the regular season.
On Saturday, he’s expected to be named the league MVP.
And he’s in the Super Bowl.
So why retire?
“The team’s doing good,” he pointed out.
More Super Bowl coverage from Yahoo Sports:
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• Eagles’ Smith endured bumpy road en route to second Super Bowl
• What’s it like meeting a legend? ‘Hi, I’m Tom Brady.’
• The heartbreaking reason why Patriots star dreads Tuesdays
• Why the Eagles are exactly what the NFL needs right now