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

Bangkok Post - - SPORTS -

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.

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