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Tom Brady, 43, said on Monday that he will “definitely consider” playing past age 45, which would push his career past his current contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Yeah, definitely. I would definitely consider that,” Brady said on a Zoom call during the NFL’s virtual opening media night. “It’s a physical sport. The perspective I have on that is you never know kinda when that moment is, just because it’s a contact sport. There’s a lot of training that goes into it. And it has to be 100% commitment from myself to keep doing it.”
So barring a major injury or dramatic drop in ability, it’s clear Brady has no designs on retiring anytime soon. He threw three touchdown passes and three interceptions in Tampa’s NFC Championship win over the Green Bay Packers, but the Buccaneers’ defense held on to get Brady to a record 10th Super Bowl appearance with a chance to win a record seventh ring.
The late George Blanda, a quarterback and kicker, is the oldest NFL player ever at age 48 for the Oakland Raiders in 1975, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Quarterbacks Steve DeBerg (1998 Falcons), Warren Moon (2000 Chiefs), and Vinny Testaverde (2007 Panthers) all played NFL games at age 44.
Brady is on the first season of a two-year, $50 million deal with the Bucs. He won’t turn 45 years old until Aug. 3, 2022, so if he intends to play past that, he’ll either need to sign an extension in Tampa or enter free agency for the second time in two years.
He certainly produced well enough on the field this season to back up his belief that he can still do it.
Brady tied Seattle’s Russell Wilson for second in the NFL with 40 passing TDs behind only the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers’ 48. And Brady was third in the NFL with 4,633 passing yards behind only Deshaun Watson (4,823) and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes (4,740).
The Buccaneers, not coincidentally, are in the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and in the Super Bowl for the first time since 2002.
COVID-19 REARS ITS HEAD
The Chiefs placed wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and backup center Daniel Kilgore on the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list, reportedly as close contacts but not positive tests. So both players still have a chance to play in Sunday’s Super Bowl as long as they continue to test negative the rest of this week.
“We’ve been hammering this point home forever,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of reminding players to follow protocols. “The problem is you’re fighting the invisible man. It gets you when least expected, and we’re seeing that everywhere. It’s an unfortunate thing. These guys were being as safe as they could be. So we’ll just see how it goes.”
The Chiefs are already down both starting offensive tackles, left tackle Eric Fisher (Achilles) and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (back). Their O-line can’t afford any more losses, even among reserves.
A GIANT REMINDER
Two-time Giant Super Bowl champion Osi Umenyiora checked into Brady’s Zoom call as a member of the media. Brady laughed and joked: “I’m happy I’m not playing you this weekend.”
Umenyiora asked a question about Brady facing Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the Giants’ D-coordinator for their 2007 Super Bowl XLII upset of Brady’s undefeated New England Patriots.
“That 2007 game was one of my least favorite football memories, just so you know,” Brady said. “Probably because I had a lot of you on top of me with grass stains on my back. You and Stray (Michael Strahan) and Justin (Tuck), you guys had a great defense, you guys were an incredible opponent that day, and you guys deserved to win.”
Brady called Spagnuolo a “tremendous coach” who “caters to the strength of his players” and has evolved through the years.
Umenyiora also checked into former teammate Jason Pierre-Paul’s Zoom call and provided a light-hearted moment.
“I don’t even have no question,” Umenyiora said, laughing. “I just wanted to say what’s up and hey, you know what to do. You know what to do.”
Pierre-Paul laughed hysterically, told Umenyiora he missed him, and gathered himself for some praise for his former Giants teammate.
“Hey for real, ain’t nobody like Osi, man,” he said. “Ain’t no Osi on our team.”
The Buccaneers’ PR team’s behind-the-scenes planning went live before Brady’s presser started. One person could be heard saying something about managing simultaneous various interviews that would “avoid Tom,” though the context wasn’t clear.
And then Brady was so blown away by how strange it was to be talking to a camera, and no actual people, that he took out his cell phone.
“I’ve got to get a picture of this,” he said, raising his cell phone to snap a photo.
Brady later said he wished he could see the members of the media talking to him.
The players had a virtual background behind them. Mahomes said in his Chiefs Zoom call that he was sitting in the back of a PR area with a screen behind him and a camera in front of him. He said he knew the camera was new because he’d never seen it before.
Welcome to the first virtual Super Bowl week.
A NOD TO TODD
Todd Bowles is two years removed from his firing as Jets head coach. The Bucs’ defensive coordinator didn’t make excuses for himself or point the finger on Monday about why it didn’t work out in New York, though.
Bowles, 57, said simply that he didn’t win enough games, going 24-40 in four seasons with Gang Green.
“I had four years,” Bowles said. “You get four years to try to make some things happen. You don’t make excuses as a head coach and the buck stops there. So I will take everything from my part that I’ve learned from a responsibility standpoint because it starts with me. Everybody else has to hold themselves accountable. I just can hold myself accountable.
“Unfortunate that we didn’t win,” Bowles added. “We played a lot of close games. End of [the day], we didn’t win. There’s no sense to sit here and say shoulda, coulda, woulda. You go through that after the season when you get let go, that’s two years removed now. Again I think it made me a better coach than I was back then. Not that I was a bad coach then but your record shows that you are so you have to eat that, you have to regroup and you have to become a better coach. And that’s what I’m doing.”
Bowles had a head coaching interview scheduled with the Lions but said Detroit cancelled it because they had decided to hire Dan Campbell.
“I never got to interview,” Bowles said. “I think they didn’t feel like waiting. They had their mind made up.”
Bowles did interview for the Philadelphia Eagles vacancy virtually but admitted “anytime you Zoom, it’s hard to get a job” unless you can meet in person and take the next step.
Bowles said he’s glad to still be playing, though, and wouldn’t change that now. He sounded like a coach who is comfortable in his current position and patient enough to wait for the right opportunity to open down the road.
Rob Gronkowski admitted Monday that he tricked Bucs strength and conditioning coach Anthony Piroli during virtual workouts last offseason by filming himself running sprints on the same day in several different shirts, then sending in different videos each day.
Players had to send in videos daily to prove they were completing workouts. Gronkowski, who came out of retirement to join Brady in Tampa, said it was a fun process for about a week before he found a workaround.
“Oh man. I tricked him,” Gronkowski said. “I tricked him a few times… I would bring my shirt out and then I would bring another shirt out. So when I’m running the sprints, I would film myself like 15 times for that workout session, but I would run it in a couple different shirts. Because you only had to send in like two or three reps. So when the next time came, I didn’t have to film myself because I had already filmed myself running in a different shirt on that one day. And he hasn’t had a clue to this day that I was tricking him about half the time during those virtual workouts.”