FOXBORO, Mass. — Next week, Tom Brady will celebrate his 40th birthday. A month after that, he’ll begin his 18th NFL season.
Brady’s age has been discussed ad nauseam as the New England Patriots quarterback nears the big 4-0, by which time most pro athletes already are long retired. But it means little to Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who watched Brady engineer the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history just five months ago.
“His age is not a factor to me,” McDaniels said Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. “We just worry about our preparation and our performance, and he’s prepared himself to come into camp and have a good camp. Our goal is to go out there and get better every day, and he’ll be no different from any of our other guys in that regard.”
But Brady is different. He’s the oldest non-kicker/punter in the NFL. When he began his career in New England in 2000, no other current Patriots player had even graduated high school. His understudies, 25-year-old Jimmy Garoppolo and 24-year-old Jacoby Brissett are practically babies compared to him.
What truly separates Brady, however, is his continued success at such an advanced age. He finished second in NFL MVP voting last season, turning in one of the best statistical campaigns of his career and capping it with his fourth Super Bowl MVP trophy.
McDaniels, who at age 41 is just 16 months Brady’s senior, insists nothing the quarterback does surprises him.
“No, because I’m around him a lot,” the coach said. “He cares deeply about doing his job right. He’s prepared. He works hard. He takes care of himself. This is a very important part of who he is, and there’s not many things in his life that he doesn’t attack this way.”
After opting not to trade Garoppolo this spring, the Patriots are expected to carry three quarterbacks on their active roster for the second consecutive season. There will come a time when New England must choose between Brady and Garoppolo, but for now, McDaniels believes the internal competition benefits all three QBs.
“If you’re here, you’re responsible to try to push the people ahead of you so you can get out there on the field and help us win,” McDaniels said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of deferring going on in any room, and that’s a great thing. That means we have a lot of competition, and that’s the thing that makes everybody better.”
Thumbnail photo via James Lang/USA TODAY Sports Images