Happy 43rd birthday, Tom Brady

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Not many men have played football at a high level past their 40th birthdays. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is still going strong, and as of today he’s 43.

More than 20 years after being drafted by the Patriots and after six Super Bowl wins and three other Super Bowl appearances, Brady is getting closer and closer to his self-designated end of the road. After saying for roughly 10 years that he plans to play 10 more years, Brady pivoted to saying that he plans to play until he’s 45.

At some point, he clarified that he’ll play through the year when he turns 45. That gives Brady three more seasons. Unless, of course, he decides to try to keep going beyond that.

The arm should last longer than 45. The brain has become a pre-snap supercomputer. The real question is whether the legs will continue to buy him enough time to get rid of the ball. Even as he has learned to bail out when needed in order to avoid taking a big hit from guys who in more and more cases are less than half his age, at some point Brady will realize the guys chasing him are getting faster and faster. Which will mean he’s getting slower and slower.

At that point, he’ll either walk away or, eventually, limp away.

Regardless, what he has done in 20 NFL seasons is beyond remarkable. Even if the Tampa Bay experiment goes poorly, he’s still the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. If he can get back to a Super Bowl with a new team, that will simply be the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cherry.