On Jan. 18, 2015, the NFL Network aired an interview with Tom Brady Sr. called “A Father’s Pride.” It was a pregame segment for the AFC Championship that year. You know, the one that started deflate-gate.
That was back when the New England Patriots quarterback and his father, who has since publicly called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “a flaming liar,” might actually grant interviews to the league.
So, as Brady returned from his four-game suspension for the deflate-gate fallout, conveniently left off the active roster until Saturday, so he wouldn’t have to talk to the media, the NFL Network went back to the same well on Sunday, airing clips from the same 630-day-old interview with the father and son.
And even though we’re 21 months removed from the original segment, this latest one, entitled “The Forever Man,” includes an awfully interesting nugget from Brady Sr. about his son’s future in the NFL.
TB12's greatest motivator?
Not the doubters.
Not the adversity.
It's himself. It's his desire to be the best he can.https://t.co/hYGXZiDx5i
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) October 9, 2016
“If he can play to 44 or 45, another six or seven or eight years,” he said, “that’s what he wants to do.”
For those who’ve followed Brady’s career, particularly of late, as he’s railed against Coca-Cola and Frosted Flakes and sold out $200 cookbooks and $50 sacks of nuts, his desire to play well into his 40s comes as no surprise. In fact, it was that same week in January 2015 when the two-time MVP joked to The New York Times he may play forever, countering reporter Mark Leibovich’s suggestion the QB will soon have to find something to fill the football void in his life by responding: “Maybe not.”
In that article, “Tom Brady Cannot Stop,” Brady Sr. scrapped that earlier prediction that his son would play until “44 or 45” and instead said, “I know what Tommy wants to do. He wants to play till he’s 70.”
Again in January 2015, when a reporter asked if another Super Bowl was his motivation for still playing at “this stage” of his career, Brady joked, “‘This stage’? What does that mean? What stage is that?”
Likewise, in October 2015, when his deflate-gate suspension was put on hold as the courts sorted out Goodell’s absolute power, Brady told reporters in a conference call he’d like to play another decade.
“I’d like to play a long time,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into playing well. I’ve played with a lot of great teammates. But I want to play for a long time, maybe 10 more years. I think that’s probably what my goal is. …
“It’s not always up to me. That’s what my goals are, so that’s just what I’m hoping. And it will take a lot to achieve that. Obviously, a team has to want you, but love playing this sport. I love making a commitment to my teammates and my coaches, and hopefully I can do it for a long time.”
After all, Brady employs former Major League Baseball relief pitcher Tom House, whose throwing coach work includes helping Nolan Ryan pitch until he was 46. And Brady said in the NFL Network footage uncovered on Sunday, “There’s nothing else I could ever see myself doing, so it’s not like I really want to rush to the end.” So, when Brady hints he could pass George Blanda’s record as the old quarterback to ever play in the NFL, at age 48, maybe we should stop thinking this is a joke to him.
At 39 years old, Brady is less than two years removed from his most recent Super Bowl title and coming off a season in which he finished second to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in the MVP voting. His Patriots, at 4-to-1 odds, are the favorites to win a championship again this winter.
Just shy of his 40th birthday, Manning became the oldest QB ever to win a Super Bowl this past February, so Brady would have to at least wait until next season to get another one over on his rival. And the court proceedings for this whole deflate-gate saga that’s put to rest on Sunday uncovered a November 2014 email from Brady to his childhood friend that addressed this issue about Manning. “I’ve got another seven or eight years,” Brady wrote. “He has two. That’s the final chapter. Game on.”
That chapter begins in Cleveland against the Browns on Sunday. How long it lasts remains to be seen.
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