No one could have known Tom Brady would have played this long.
Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had a rough season in 2013, so probably not coincidentally, coach Bill Belichick decided to draft Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round in 2014. It was the highest Belichick had ever taken a quarterback at the time.
It seemed like a signal that Belichick was preparing for life after Brady. At the very least, Belichick was prioritizing a strong backup at the position.
“We drafted Jimmy and I just thought, like every other time, you embrace them, they’re you’re teammate,” Brady said during an interview in the ESPN+ docu-series “Man in the Arena.” “Now, we drafted Jimmy higher. Coach Belichick referenced my age to me, referenced it to the media. In my mind, I was thinking, ‘What are you talking about?’”
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Brady was 36 years old and was set to enter his 15th NFL season. No one could have anticipated at the time that Brady’s longevity would be what it is. No one has ever had this much success into their 40s like Brady.
“I think he was just referencing, well, not many quarterbacks have ever played and been successful late in their career, and that’s just a fact. Of course, for me, I was just like, I don’t care about any of those things,” he said.
Back in 2014, Brady predicted he could play to 2020 or 2021. Nowadays, he’s not giving an answer. He wants to play to 45 years old, at least. That’s all he’ll say. So he’ll play through next season. Then what? Only he knows.
But Belichick couldn’t have prepared for Brady to play as long as he did. The Patriots coach prepares for every scenario, even if it’s the decline of the greatest quarterback of all time.
“From the team standpoint, again, you’re always looking to, ‘What’s going to happen if Tom retires, what’s going to happen if Tom isn’t the player he is?’” Brady said. “I never thought about those things ’cause I didn’t think of myself aging in a traditional way. I was really beginning to understand how to take care of myself. I was really beginning to understand the game, how to study, how to be more efficient. I was really beginning to understand how to train, how to communicate more with my teammates.