After 17 years, going into my 18th year, I know what to do. I know how to prepare. I never get sore.” That’s what Tom Brady said to a group of reporters Wednesday at Patriots training camp.
That answer addresses what may be the biggest question going into the 2017-18 season — will Tom Brady finally succumb to age? Fresh off another Super Bowl win, does the aging Brady have enough left in the tank to take the New England Patriots to another championship game. The 40-year-old quarterback would have to get another finger surgically added to his hand to accommodate a future sixth ring.
History is against Brady. Most quarterbacks are already in decline by the time they reach their late 30’s. This decline has been evident in the elder quarterbacks that have come before. Passes become shorter, there’s less zip on the ball and interceptions become much more prevalent.
Of course, Tom Brady is not most quarterbacks. But a statistical analysis of long-tenured quarterbacks that have come before Brady reveals some trends. Most quarterbacks peak in their 20’s, but long-playing quarterbacks grow better with age. They tend to reach a peak at 32 or 33, making them better in their 30’s than in their 20’s. That peak generally lasts until about age 37. That’s when the wheels fall off.
You don’t have to look any further for evidence of this age-related precipitous decline in performance than Brady’s rival, Peyton Manning. Like Brady and other long-playing quarterbacks in the NFL, he got better with age into his 30’s. Then, soon after his 37th birthday, his performance declined. While he did win a Super Bowl in his final game in the NFL, his performance was a bit painful to watch. He couldn’t get the ball down the field and his passes wobbled like an injured duck.
The analysis of long-playing quarterbacks has to end at the age of 40, Brady’s current age. That’s because no quarterback has played at a high level at the age of 40 and after the age of 40? Forget it. This season is where predicting Brady’s success becomes very difficult. Most Fantasy Football trackers rate Brady as the number two pick at quarterback despite this dearth of information.
But Brady says he feels great; better than he did in his 20’s. There are some factors that may keep Brady in the game longer. During his career, the NFL started to protect quarterbacks more with rules changes. But it is Brady’s diet and commitment to the game that may have him breaking the age barrier.
Brady employs a diet so strict that most not dare follow in his footsteps. He indulges every once in a while in avocado ice cream, avoids nightshades and eats mostly vegetables. He eschews heavy weight lifting to preserve his joints, works on his core and stretches out with mobility training. It’s all designed to keep his body limber for years to come.
We’ll see if he achieves his goal of playing into his mid-40’s. He’ll be the first of his kind.
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