Tom Brady will be 40 when the 2017 NFL season begins — the oldest non-kicker/punter in the league. But you might be surprised to learn he still has a long way to go to become the oldest starting quarterback in NFL history.
That honor belongs to Steve DeBerg, who came out of retirement in 1998 at age 44 and started one game for the Atlanta Falcons.
DeBerg, who spent most of the ’98 season as a backup on a Falcons team that lost in the Super Bowl, believes Brady one day will dethrone him.
“I think he would have to start a football game six seasons from now to break my record,” DeBerg, now 63, earlier this week told Jonathan Jones of Sports Illustrated. “And I actually think he’ll do it.”
DeBerg was 44 years, 279 days old when he made his one start for Atlanta. Brady will be younger than that when the 2021 season ends, meaning he would need to play into the 2022 campaign in order to break the record.
And Brady apparently intends to do just that. Patriots owner Robert Kraft told reporters at the NFL Annual Meeting that Brady said he’s willing to play for another six or seven seasons.
Of course, all it takes is one awkward hit to derail those plans, but Brady has been remarkably healthy throughout his 17-year NFL career. He missed nearly the entire 2008 season after tearing his ACL in Week 1 but otherwise has not missed a game because of injury since taking over for Drew Bledsoe in 2001.
“You just never know,” DeBerg told Jones. “A guy could fall onto (Brady’s) knee. There are so many things that can happen. It is a violent game. The injury part of it is a big factor. Sometimes you’ve just got to be lucky.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images