“Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Dylan Thomas What motivates Tom Brady to keep playing into his mid-40s? His move to Tampa Bay after a remarkable twenty year run with the New England Patriots tells us a lot about his character and the fire that burns inside. In some respects, longer lifespans for quarterbacks are not rare. We live in an era when other Hall of Fame quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have kept going towards or past their 40th year. It is a trend that has emerged amongst elite sportspeople. In basketball, Steve Nash supplied plenty of tips on how to piece together a multi-decade career and look after the body in the process. Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Michael Phelps excelled into their thirties. In European rugby, two fantastic players, Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton and England’s Owen Farrell, openly cite Tom Brady as the inspiration for the ambition to play late into their 30’s. Peak performance The science behind Brady’s eponymous longevity is the trademarked TB12 method. Other competitive quarterbacks have bowed to career ending injuries or slowly deteriorating bodies. Brady’s path to vitality is a healthy, and at times strict lifestyle. Diet, sleep, cognitive resilience, flexibility are the core of his mission to s
The private team of specialists around Brady - for so long the source of discontent with former coach Bill Belichick at the Patriots - will carry on with him in Tampa. It's true, quarterbacks are relatively less likely to get injured than other skill position players on the field. Brady is a master at recognizing defensive blitzes and can change protections or offload the ball to avoid getting hit. The Patriots’ system and his offensive line took very good care of him for two decades. Brady is outstanding in the pocket and the perception is he gets hit less than other quarterbacks. The test for the Buccaneers is to put an offensive line together that buys him time and limits his exposure. Risk transfer One of the trappings of the fresh start is the chance to play under a free spirited head coach in Bruce Arians, whose philosophy of "no risk it, no biscuit”, will have attracted Brady. Along with the Arians scheme fit, comes a star studded offense, something he’s been deprived of the last two seasons in New England. After unprecedented success in his career, the move to Florida represents a risk for Brady, albeit risk with a substantial upside. Tampa has acquired the most successful player ever to play the game and one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. They will try to offset the gradual decline in his game by creating the best environment around him. They’ve already given him an early welcome present by luring Rob Gronkowski, his favorite all-time go-to receiver, out of retirement. Star wide receivers Chris Goodwin and Mike Evans await him. Tampa’s notoriously leaky offensive line is being recast. The COVID-19 lockdown is a blow as Brady adjusts to a new scheme and playbook but having his experience and football intellect coming into the building is also a boon for the Buccaneers. Brand Brady For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Brady show will border on a circus. After all, that’s what they’ve signed up for. Brand Brady is in town. It's no surprise he’s moved quickly to patent ‘Tompa Bay’. Tommy has already acquainted himself with the city in the form of a trip to the park, where a staff member ejected him during COVID-19 quarantine. He followed that with trespass and entering, confusing his offensive coordinator’s home with that of a neighbor. All this is public relations soft-serve for local fans and, of course, good for Tom Brady. With Brady, comes national attention not seen in Tampa since they won a Super Bowl in 2002. Now that the 2020 schedule has been unveiled, the Buccaneers will have five prime time games when football returns. Brady is admired, and often, unfairly disliked in equal measure. But you can never doubt him. Football doesn’t do heroes like baseball, basketball and boxing. Brady does not have Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan and Mohammed Ali acclaim because he has spent his career in the ultimate team game. But he deserves respect by the bucket load. His college coach at the University of Michigan, Lloyd Carr, told of how Brady stuck with the Wolverines program when he was far down the quarterback depth chart, a time when other players would have left. He should know. Carr was one of those that initially underestimated Brady. Carr was magnanimous to add that the way Brady responded to being fourth choice was everything a coach would want a player to do. Each weekend in college football and the NFL we’re treated to the tedium of hearing commentators say ‘he plays the game with a chip on his shoulder’ and ‘he’s overcome adversity’, phrases that are trundled out and are utterly meaningless. Professional players at the top of their game are not short of ammunition. Brady’s experiences at Michigan and being the 199th pick in the 2000 draft were significant motivation, but show me a player who lacks drive and an edge; that person is probably not equipped to make a living from professional sports, let alone be an elite performer. Sometimes all you can ask for in life is a chance. As one of the most decorated men in world sports has shown us throughout his career - even when his team is 28-3 down in the Super Bowl - a chance is all he needs. An enthralling final act in the Tom Brady story awaits in the warm Florida sunshine.