No matter what you think of the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady, you can’t have a discussion about the best quarterbacks since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 without including Brady.
Five Super Bowl trophies, two league Most Valuable Player awards, 12 Pro Bowls, Brady is the biggest lock to be a Hall of Famer entry in his first year of eligibility as anyone who has ever played the game.
But the other indisputable fact about Brady is that he will turn 40 before the start of the 2017 NFL season and the NFL has not been kind to quarterbacks once they hit that milestone.
It’s cute that the media buys into the myth that Brady will play at a high level for several more years, an idea that New England owner Robert Kraft pushed at the annual owners meeting when he claimed that Brady will play for another “six or seven years.”
History tells a far different story, however.
Only a handful of quarterbacks have played past the age of 40 and the longterm results have not been pretty:
- Brett Favre led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game at the age of 40. The next season he played 13 games, threw 19 interceptions against just 11 touchdowns, and retired.
- Warren Moon made 32 starts from ages 40 to 42, passing for 3,678 yards and 25 touchdowns for a 7-7 Seattle Seahawks team in 1997. The next season, at age 42, he was down to 1,632 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 10 starts, making him the only quarterback in league history to pass for more than 1,000 yards past the age of 41.
- Vinny Testaverde kept it going until the age of 44, but his last good season came in 2004, the year he turned 41. After that, he threw for 1,758 yards, seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions total in his final three years in the league.
Even in the quarterback-friendly era of the current NFL, the odds of Brady posting more than two good seasons at the most are a long shot. And we’re willing to bet that “long shot” are not two of New England head coach Bill Belichick’s favorite words.
Which brings us to the second myth.