In two days, they meet in New Orleans. If the Buccaneers lose, Brady undoubtedly will be back. If the Saints lose, Brees quite possibly won’t be.
The reality that Brady will see his first post-Patriots season end or that Brees may see his career end makes Sunday night’s game even more compelling than it otherwise would be. Both have become all-time greats. Both will be first-ball Hall of Famers. Both could keep going in 2021.
Brady will. Brees still could. If the Saints lose, will Brees try one more time to win a second Super Bowl and walk off into the sunset? Will the Saints want him to do it, or will they want to move on to someone else?
Brees, like Brady, still has the ability to play at a high level. He has made it clear in the past that he won’t play for any team other than the Saints. Thus, it could be that we see Brees for the last time with the Saints or anyone else on Sunday night.
Even if he retires, the fact that he played for this long puts him in rare company. Even though Brady has pushed past his 43rd birthday with every intent to play at least one season past his 45th, quarterbacks traditionally have been gone from the game before turning 40.
That’s changing, for several reasons. First, quarterbacks have made defying Father Time a 24/7/365 obsession. Second, the rules help protect the health of quarterbacks. Third, the money for great quarterbacks is better than it’s ever been.
So look for more and more quarterbacks to make it to 40 and beyond in the coming years. And look for Brady to keep stretching the rubber band. Who knows? Maybe he’ll make it to 50.