For anyone fortunate enough to be a professional athlete, sometimes calling it quits is the hardest decision to make in one’s career.
That’s even more true when you’re Tom Brady, who’s far past the age most NFL players hang up their cleats for good. And he’s already announced he’ll be back for another season following his Super Bowl 55 victory.
At 43 years old, Brady is already one of the oldest players in NFL history, yet he’s still playing at a high enough level that deciding to retire won’t come as easy for him as it’s been for past quarterbacks who clearly needed to retire during their final seasons like Brett Favre, Peyton Manningm and Eli Manning to name a few recent examples.
It’s certainly easier to keep going when you’re winning championships, and that’s the case with Brady after his Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55. That gave Brady his seventh Lombardi Trophy, more than any single NFL franchise has. Brady was also named Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time in his career after beating the Chiefs.
It sure sounds like Brady isn’t walking away any time soon. Just when it looked like Brady had finally regressed and let Father Time get to the best of him in 2019 during his last season with the Patriots, the QB turned back the clock for another vintage season this year. Of course it ends with another Super Bowl ring.
What Tom Brady has said about retirement
In 2017, Brady told Peter King of Sports Illustrated he’s hoping to play into his mid-40s.
“I’d like to play until my mid-40s,” Brady told King. “Then I’ll make a decision. If I’m still feeling like I’m feeling today, who knows? Now, those things can always change. You do need long-term goals too. I know next year is not going to be my last year.”
Brady turns 44 this coming August, so playing into his mid-40s could be 2-3 more seasons.
Back in 2019, Brady’s trainer, Alex Guerrero, told WEEI that the veteran wanted to play until he was “46 or 47.” So the ‘mid-40s’ timeline isn’t too different.
“It all comes to commitment, really,” he said. ”No one thought you could play at the elite level in your late 30s, early 40s. That is something we always felt we could do. I have really wanted to be there to help him accomplish that goal. I certainly do believe that 45 is a very realistic goal.
“We talk about it all the time. Every year he just adds another year. He goes in and he’s like, ‘Guys, I feel so good still. I think I am going to go till 45.’ I am like, ‘OK.’ Now he’s like, ‘Alex, I think I can go like 46 or 47.’”
One factor in how much longer Brady plays could be New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who Brady is trailing in most all-time passing records, including pass completions, and yards. If Brees retires this year, as expected, Brady will almost certainly break those records during the 2021 season. But if Brees plays one more season, Brady may need to play several more seasons to finish No. 1 in those categories.
Brady is also trailing Peyton Manning (43-39) for the most fourth-quarter comebacks ever, according to Pro Football Reference, so there’s another record he probably wants to break before retiring.
Of course, Brady is more concerned with winning championships, and the Buccaneers have him primed to compete for several more before he calls it a career.
Brady now has seven rings. The rest of the NFL has to be terrified at how many more he’ll get before he finally retires.