Tom Brady admits he will know when the time is right to hang up his cleats as he prepares to make his 10th career Super Bowl appearance at the age of 43 this Sunday.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback refrained from putting a specific timestamp on record, but did suggest he would consider playing beyond the age of 45 should he continue to maintain the performance levels that have put him in contention to clinch a remarkable seventh ring.
“I would definitely consider that,” Brady told the media on Monday. “It’s a physical sport and the perspective I have on that is that you never know when that moment is, just because it’s a contact sport and there’s a lot of training that goes into it and again it has to be 100 per cent commitment from myself to keep doing it.
“When to walk away. I think I’ll know when it’s time so I don’t know when that time will come but I think I’ll know. And I’ll understand that I gave everything I could to get to this game.
“You put a lot into it. I don’t think I can ever go at this game half-assed, I’ve got to put everything into it, if I don’t feel like I can do that anymore and don’t feel like I can commit to the team in the way team needs me then I probably think that’s time to walk away.”
The six-time champion referred to football as both his career and part of his daily life, detailing familiar sacrifices he has made in order to stay at the top in regards to abiding to a strict diet and giving up beloved time with his family.
Brady finished the 2020 season 401 of 610 passing for 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns (his most since 2007) and 12 interceptions. He was asked as to whether he thought others could replicate the longevity of his success.
“Anything is possible. Not many people have played at my age,” Brady added. “I’m hoping that I can give some of that wisdom to some of the younger players who want to do the same type of thing. We’re always supposed to be better as we grow and evolve. It wasn’t about 40 touchdowns it was about, ‘Did I do the best I could do?’ That’s where my motivation comes from.
“It’s part of my daily life. It’s pretty well documented the approach I’ve taken over a period of time. How I work out, how I recover is very important to me.”
Brady on Belichick
Brady waltzed over to test the waters of the NFC last offseason as he signed with the Bucs on a two-year deal worth $50m in guaranteed money following his departure from the New England Patriots after 20 years of dominance.
The 2020 campaign awaited as an eagerly-anticipated insight into the age-old debate over whether Brady could win without Bill Belichick and vice versa.
There was no juicy boasting from Brady on opening night, but instead an expression of his admiration for the iconic Patriots head coach.
“I have a great relationship with him,” Brady continued. “I’m just incredibly grateful for what he’s meant in my life as a coach. He was everything you could ask for as a player. I loved my time (in New England). I had two incredible decades there.
“My football journey took me to a different place. I certainly could never have accomplished the thing in my career without his support and his teachings. Incredible coach and mentor for me. I’ve had a lot of those in my career, but obviously, he’s at the top of the list.”
Brady: Mahomes has elevated since 2018
On Sunday Brady meets a quarterback on course to put himself among the greats in Patrick Mahomes, who is vying to surpass Brady as the youngest quarterback to win two Super Bowls in NFL history.
The Chiefs star will become the first quarterback ever to start two Super Bowls at the age of 25 of younger, and can also overtake Brady as the youngest quarterback ever to win two Super Bowl MVPs.
Having sat behind Alex Smith in his rookie year, Mahomes made his mark as starter in 2018 as he earned league MVP after throwing for 5,097 yards and a league-high 50 touchdowns to 12 interceptions before the Chiefs were beaten by Brady and the Patriots in a thrilling AFC Championship game. He returned the following year to inspire Kansas City to victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Super Bowl LIV and is now back in Florida looking to make it two straight.
“I think he’s only elevated from that point on (in 2018), that year he was MVP of the league and last year he came back and got off to a great start, dealt with some injuries last year, I know he separated his knee cap, but fought through that,” said Brady.
“Didn’t have the same statistical year as 2018 but goes on to win Super Bowl MVP. That’s an amazing accomplishment to win MVP in 2018, win Super Bowl in 2019 and then this year to have the kind of season he had, which is probably more similar to the year he had in 2018, I just think he’s going to keep improving.
“I don’t know him that well, I know quite a few people that do know him and they say great things about Pat and the times I’ve been around him I’ve enjoyed the time. He’s got a great maturity about him, he’s got great charisma.
“I think he’s got the ability to focus when the moments are the biggest and to deliver for his team. That’s the mark of any great athlete, coming through the clutch and I think he’s off to a great start in his career doing that.”
Join us on Sky Sports NFL and Main Event from 10pm on Sunday, February 7 for 90 minutes of Super Bowl LV build-up with Kirk Cousins, Dallas Clark and Cliff Avril joining Neil Reynolds and company; Sky One will broadcast the game from 11pm.
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