Tom Brady is setting a new standard for performing at a high level beyond age 40.
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The New England Patriots quarterback just won his sixth Super Bowl championship with February's triumph over the Los Angeles Rams. He's led the Patriots to three consecutive Super Bowl appearances, with two victories in that span.
We already know Brady is coming back for at least the 2019 season, and the Patriots will try to become the first team since the Buffalo Bills in the early 1990s to reach the Super Bowl four years in a row. What lies beyond the 2019 campaign for Brady is unknown, especially when you consider his contract has just one more year remaining. That said, Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal dropped an interesting nugget about Brady's future in a recent article.
The team, sources told BSJ, has not ruled out the possibility that Brady could retire after this season, especially if he wins another Super Bowl. That would give him four in his final six seasons, and would trump the three he won his first four seasons as a starter. Seven total Super Bowl titles would break the franchise tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers, leave Brady two titles clear of any other player, and would represent a largely unbreakable record.
While walking out on top makes sense, it's certainly not inconceivable for Brady to play for several more seasons.
He has stayed remarkably durable in his career -- a credit to his own work ethic and the rule changes making it a little easier for quarterbacks to avoid injury. Brady has played in all 16 regular season games in nine of the last 10 seasons. The only year over that span in which Brady didn't play a full slate was 2016 when he served a four-game suspension from the NFL for his alleged role in DeflateGate.
If Brady is able to stay healthy, it wouldn't be surprising for him to keep going, at least judging by his incredible competitiveness. He's won everything and still plays with the passion of a player in search of his first Lombardi Trophy. After winning Super Bowl LIII, CBS' Jim Nantz asked Brady on stage what will motivate him to come back, and the Patriots quarterback motioned to the celebratory setting and all of his teammates on the field and said "look at this, how could this not motivate you?"
Brady's future will be the subject of much discussion over the next year or so, but it doesn't appear the competitive fire that's driven him for so long is about to burn out.
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