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.