At practice on the day of his 32nd birthday on Monday, Tom Brady was greeted in a huddle with a faceful of cake by his teammates.
Brady took it like a pro, having a laugh before eventually wiping his face clean. Then, as is the case with most events run by Bill Belichick, it was back to business.
But while Brady and the Patriots will be looking forward, now is not a bad time to take a look back and see where No. 12 stacks up to Hall of Fame quarterbacks at the same age.
Through his first nine NFL seasons, Brady is without a doubt on a fast track to Canton. His 87-24 record as a starter is bettered only by his 14-3 playoff record. Though he's not thrown for a breathtaking number of yards (26,446), his precision has been excellent, as evidenced by his 63 percent completion rate and 197-86 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
In looking at other modern quarterbacks, they all seemed to have been at different places in their careers at the age of 32.
In 1992, Dan Marino turned 32 with 39,502 passing yards to his name. His winning percentage wasn't nearly as good as Brady's (63.6 percent to Brady's 78.4 percent) and he threw nearly twice as many interceptions (165), but Marino completed 59.2 percent of his passes and threw for an incredible 290 touchdowns. Though he would later get tagged as not being a big-game quarterback, he did alright in the postseason, going 5-5.
One year earlier, John Elway turned 32 years old with 1,528 more passing yards than Brady, but the comparisons end there. Elway was a bit erratic, throwing 148 touchdowns and 140 interceptions. His 81-48-1 record (62.3 winning percentage) and 54.7 completion percentage were well below those of Brady, though his 7-5 record in the playoffs was a sign of things to come later in his career.
While Brady's career is comparable in some ways to those of Marino and Elway, it is the career of Joe Montana that bears the most resemblance.
At an early age, Brady's ability to excel under pressure immediately drew parallels to Montana. Intangibles aside, Montana and Brady also match up in terms of accomplishments and statistics.
Montana won his first Super Bowl MVP in 1981 when he was 25. Brady won his first when he was 24. Montana again captured Super Bowl MVP honors three years later. Brady needed just two years to once again hold the trophy.
Montana turned 32 years old in June of 1988, and his numbers were eerily similar to Brady's:
Montana: 67-31 (68.3 percent)
Brady: 87-24 (78.3 percent)
Montana: 2,084-3,276 (63.6 percent)
Brady: 2,301-3,653 (63 percent)
Super Bowl MVPs
Of course, Montana's career only got better with age. He recaptured Super Bowl MVP honors in 1990 after winning another Super Bowl the year before. He made three more Pro Bowls and two more First-Team All-Pro selections after turning 32, and he also won the NFL's MVP Award in back-to-back years at age 33 and 34.
So while figuring out a present for Brady might not have been the easiest of tasks, it wouldn't have been the worst thing for him to close his eyes, blow out the candles and wish to continue to be just like Joe.
Way back in May, the Patriots were rumored to have an interest in the outside linebacker. Nearly three months later, Burgess is heading to New England, reportedly for a third-round pick in 2010 and a fifth-round pick in 2011. Burgess will turn 31 on Aug. 12, having played parts of seven seasons with the Eagles and Raiders, compiling 187 solo tackles and forcing five fumbles in his career.
The nose tackle and his wife welcomed their first child this week. The boy was named David in honor of Wilfork's late father.
The veteran offensive lineman was released to make room for Burgess. The former second-round pick played in just four games last season.
Quote of the week
"He?s kind of too old to hang out with now at this point. We?ve sung Happy Birthday to him a number of times over the years, and you could see it in his eyes this time — he couldn?t really light up like he used to. He?s getting old."
–Matt Light on the celebration of Brady's birthday
What to watch for
Taking in Patriots training camp is a fun way to spend a summer day, but sitting in the sun for an extended period of time is always dangerous. To help combat the danger, the Patriots are teaming with the American Academy of Dermatology to offer free skin cancer screenings at camp on Aug. 10 during both sessions.