There should have been zero surprise when Tom Brady left his longtime home in New England for Tampa. Don’t all people his age end up in Florida?
Brady will be 43 when/if the NFL convenes this season, old only in the relative terms of professional football. Ancient, really, in this realm. Somebody get that man some sandals and black socks.
Brady co-authored Atlanta’s most crushing sporting defeat – no need to delve further into that here. And having joined the NFC South, he is scheduled to face the Falcons twice a year. He is a rival now on top of being an object of great resentment. Thus, we are obliged to exploit the age thing. Otherwise, how else to dig at a guy who looks like he looks at his age and has done what he has done? This is currently all we have.
So, to his new mates in Tampa, enjoy the sauna because you know he’s going to be constantly turning up the thermostat in the team meeting room. People his age are always cold.
Brady already was the oldest quarterback, at 41, to win a Super Bowl when the Patriots took out the Rams in Atlanta a couple of seasons back. Notably it was the only one of his six Super Bowl victories in which he didn’t throw a touchdown pass. But when you’re that age, of course, you just don’t score like you used to.
He was 39 when he led the unfathomable comeback over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, and that seemed old then. Now he is well and truly into his midlife crisis, only skipping the part about leaving the wife for a younger woman. He’s already married to a supermodel.
(By the way, there is little wonder he is so comfortable with the Super Bowl. When he was a kid, the “new math” was based on the roman numeral.)
Brady’s so old he has changed the perception of the quarterback position in the NFC South. New Orleans’ 41-year-old Drew Brees has shown some signs of decline, but at least he now no longer has to feel like the chaperone at the prom. Brees can look within his division and reclaim that relatively young feeling again, kick up his heels and then settle in for a nice nap.
And we’re always talking around here about how Matt Ryan’s window is closing. But he’ll be turning “just” 35 in May, and his window is wide-open and made by Microsoft compared with the stained glass of some of his division peers.
Brady’s arrival must come with certain challenges for the Bucs equipment staff. Will they be able to find football pants that he can wear up around his fourth rib, just beneath the armpits?
And what accommodations will the team make for those times when he’s late to practice because he couldn’t find his car keys? For that matter, how will he get home when he can’t find his car in the team parking lot? Oh, wait, it’s the one with the big plastic chrysanthemum on the antenna.
He likely will be the only Tampa Bay player who takes tweezers with him on the road, there being always an odd hair somewhere to pluck.
And, just wondering, does his Life Alert go off every time he’s sacked?
Beyond such peripheral concerns, there have to be some very real ones about what kind of Tom Brady the Bucs have signed. There is a huge difference between old Brady and the Brady of old. It is the same yawning gap that all of us older than the venerable quarterback can never bridge, the one between what we are and what we used to be.
Brady, of course, will tell you that age is just a number. Yeah, right, and every wrinkle is just a laugh line and every ache just the echo of a life well-lived. People who say that probably also believe they get younger when they set the clock back in the fall.
This move has the feel of a change that is just not going to end well, of a detour that feeds into a dead end. It shouldn’t work, given the laws of nature. Brady is not supposed to be a Buc any more than Namath was supposed to be a Ram or Unitas a Charger. But at least it has provided a little chatter in silenced times. We are allowed a little fun, even now.
Regardless, Brady at least should find comfort in his new surroundings, as one old G.O.A.T among the community of other old goats who have found their way to Florida for the sunshine, the early-bird special and the plentiful extra-wide parking spaces.
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