AGELESS BRADY TRYING TO KEEP PACE WITH YOUNGER LOT
The New England Patriots’ 40-year-old star quarterback has no plans to retire in the near future
Tom Brady’s insatiable work ethic has allowed him to overcome nearly every obstacle thrown his way but now the NFL’s greatest quarterback faces what could prove to be his toughest test yet. When Brady took the field in the New England Patriots’ 2017 season opener on Thursday he was already one month beyond his 40th birthday, which is well past the age when quarterbacks tend to be much less efficient.
But Brady, who engineered a record-setting Super Bowl comeback against the Atlanta Falcons to win his fifth championship in February, is coming off one of the best campaigns of his career and has not shown any evidence that this season will not be just as special.
In fact, the future Hall of Famer, who is set to become just the 20th quarterback to play in an NFL game after turning 40, is feeling so good that he has no imminent plans to retire.
“You know, I just love doing it. I’ve never thought about not playing,” said Brady. “At least until my mid-40s, I said, so that’s a pretty good goal in and of itself and then we’ll see when I get there. But it’s been so fun. Football has been such a rewarding part of my life.”
Brady, who said some of his backups presented him with a birthday cake that had “old” on it rather than his age, did admit that getting his body ready for every season has changed a lot.
“The routine changes because your body changes and you have got to be smart as you get older. I’ve been working hard at it for a long time. I’ve got a great regimen and it’s a process for me,” he said, without going into specific details.
“The best part about it is I enjoy what I’m doing so it never really feels like I’m working at it because I really love doing it.
“I love practicing, I love preparing, I love training and certainly I love playing. Hopefully [I can] just keep it going.”
Brady did say he has kept in touch with Brett Favre, who as a 40-year-old in 2009 had arguably the best season of his Hall of Famer career when he threw 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions and led Minnesota to the NFC Conference Championship game.
“He’s been someone that I’ve always talked to, so I really enjoy it. I just loved his style. I admired him for so long,” said Brady.
“We talked about certain things, but yeah, I mean, he was incredible playing as an older quarterback, and he still had a great love for the game. He was a phenomenal player. I always looked up to him.”
FALCONS MOVE ON
The Atlanta Falcons are done licking their wounds following last season’s epic Super Bowl collapse, refusing to dwell on the past as they get set to open a new season that they refuse to call a redemption tour.
The Falcons blew a commanding 28-3 secondhalf lead and then lost in overtime to the New England Patriots in February’s Super Bowl, a recordsetting collapse that will stick with the players for the rest of their lives.
But with the bulk of that talented, high-scoring team still together, the Falcons are not letting any outside noise clutter their mindset going into their season opener at Chicago on Sunday.
“Our mindset is really... it’s really locked,” Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said.
“We for damn sure aren’t going to let people outside our walls tell us how we’re supposed to feel. You don’t play. People who write about us don’t play. We play, and this is our season. And we’re going to go for it like crazy in 2017.
“But it doesn’t have shit to do with 2016. It’s not a redemption tour. It’s to see how good we can get.”
Reckless play-calling is what ultimately denied the Falcons from celebrating a Super Bowl, and members of the team all dealt with the heartache in their own way during the off-season.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, the man mostly responsible for getting Atlanta to the NFL’s championship game and still in the prime of his career, watched the game multiple times.
Quinn spoke with other coaches who suffered similar heartbreak only to come back stronger and win it all the next season, including Steve Kerr of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and University of North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams.
“I wanted to do my own research and make sure that I was going to be responsible in every way to our team,” Quinn said.
“I’m not Steve or Coach Williams or any of those guys. I wanted it to be authentic to me. But I wanted to make sure I uncovered every rock to make sure that mentally, we were good to go.”
But history is not on the Falcons’ side as only twice before has the losing Super Bowl team won it all the next season, and even that has not happened since Miami did it in 1973.
Since Buffalo made four consecutive trips, culminating with the Super Bowl in 1994, no runner-up has gone back to the big game the following campaign while a number have failed to even make the playoffs the next season.
But the Falcons, who already boast explosive running back Devonta Freeman and standout receiver Julio Jones, have added a new offensive coordinator and bolstered their pass rush in the hopes of avoiding any possible Super Bowl hangover.
“If you do your job,” Jones said, “your brother is going to do his job, and throughout the line, people are going to be successful.
“If you throw the team under the bus,” Allen said, “you’re not going to be able to make the plays you need to make.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lifts the Vince Lombardi trophy after defeating the Atlanta Falcons in February’s Super Bowl.
Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman scores a touchdown last season.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan attempts a pass against the Patriots during the 2017 Super Bowl.