Tom Brady turned 35 on Friday, hitting a milestone that makes an elite athlete think about just how much longer he can continue being an elite athlete.
“I want to play a long time,” Brady told the Boston Globe on Sunday. “I think the reality is we’re focused on this year and there’s no season other than this season that I’m worried about. We’ve got our work cut out for us — it will be a huge challenge.”
The New England Patriots quarterback grew up idolizing Joe Montana, who played until he was 38 — a retirement age that’s a little too close for Brady to fathom. Doug Flutie and Vinny Testaverde were 42 when they were Brady’s teammates in New England.
“[Flutie and Testaverde] were great teammates and I certainly learned a lot from them in terms of how to play the position and how to prepare mentally and physically for the season,” Brady said. “Both were great athletes and I really enjoyed having them as guys that I could play with. ... I’m a long ways from 42 and hopefully I’m still talking to you guys when I’m 42.”
Brady said that one advantage of advancing age is that he doesn’t have to hit the playbook as much. “I know what we’re doing, I know why we’re doing it and I know the calls,” he said. “It’s more mentally making sure that you bring emotion and energy and making sure you have the enthusiasm and the execution is good.”
“Everyone is working on something. It’s not like you can just go through the motions out here, or else you don’t improve. I’m competing just like everybody else. I’m competing for my role and my spot and trying to be a good leader and trying to set a good example as quarterback. I think that’s my challenge: to come out here every day and bring everything I have to try to make us a better team.”
He certainly hasn’t given up tweaking his game and seeking to perfect it. He had a visit today from Tom House, the coach he’s been working with since the death of his longtime adviser Tom Martinez shortly after the Patriots’ loss in the Super Bowl in February. House, who has worked with Drew Brees, Alex Smith and Carson Palmer, is a former major league pitcher and worked with Brady and Bryan Hoyer on mechanics after practice.