Tom Brady turns 40


Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski came up with a pretty good idea for a 40th birthday present for quarterback Tom Brady on Wednesday when he said he gets Brady touchdowns because all the quarterback wants is for his receivers to catch the ball.

Mike Reiss of came up with another good way to celebrate Brady’s big birthday on Thursday. Reiss spoke to several Brady family members, friends, teammates and coaches to paint a picture of Brady on and off the field. The anecdotes range from a chippy response to razzing about Drew Henson while at Michigan to his willingness to use connections to help teammates score nice watches to his enjoyment of a good prank.

More than anything, though, the stories Reiss collected show the traits that have made Brady one of the best to ever play in the NFL. Early morning arrivals to the weight room, supreme confidence in his abilities and, as former Patriots offensive coordinator and current Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, a steel trap memory of what’s been successful in past games.

“My favorite story about him has to do with his memory,” O’Brien said. “I don’t remember the exact time of the year, but we were playing Buffalo, I think it was 2009. We’re in a meeting and we’re watching Buffalo’s first- and second-down tape. I’m talking to them about what the Bills’ defensive coordinator was doing, and [Brady] basically knew who the coordinator was because he had faced him earlier in his career, about five to six years prior. So he says to me in this meeting, ‘I remember we ran this play against this scheme called Crunch Stock in 2004.’ I said, ‘You remember that specific play?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I remember it against this specific coverage, which this coordinator loves to play. It was on the right hash, going away from the lighthouse, and we hit Troy Brown for a big gain on the crossing pattern.’ I said, ‘There is no way you remember that play like that!’ He challenged me to pull it up. We have all the games on the computer system, and we find that game and there’s the play: on the right hash, second-and-less-than-5, going away from the lighthouse and he hits Troy Brown on a crossing pattern. Think about all the plays he had between that day and the day we were talking. Apart from his talent and competitiveness, I always tell people that’s what sets him apart. He has an IBM. He remembers it.”

The entire piece is worth a read for a trip back through the years as Brady hits 40 with no sign that he’s slowing down.

Wax museum needs Tom Brady’s help to fix “creepy” statue of him

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Tom Brady apparently looks better in person than he does in a new Boston wax museum.

The Dreamland Wax Museum features a statue of Brady, according to the Associated Press, but the replica has not gone over well with Patriots fans. It has been ridiculed online, with some calling it “creepy” and no one claiming it looks anything like Brady.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the museum acknowledged the Brady replica isn’t perfect. The museum explained the statue is based on a photo rather than Brady’s actual measurements.

To that end, the museum seeks Brady’s help. It invited the Patriots quarterback to “come by and sit in for a measurement session.” Dreamland said getting the replica perfect is its top priority.

Per the Associated Press, the museum had not received a reply from Brady, and museum officials probably shouldn’t hold their breath.

The only statue Brady likely cares about being accurate is the one in Canton, and he probably won’t mind sitting for that one.

Gronk has the perfect gift idea for Tom Brady


What do you get for a guy who has everything? More of what he wants the most.

Asked by reporters regarding his plans for quarterback Tom Brady’s 40th birthday on Thursday, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn’t miss a beat.

“I get him touchdowns,” Gronkowski said. “You’ve got to catch the ball. That’s all he wants — his receivers, tight ends, running backs to catch the ball. So that’s probably what he wants tomorrow.”

Gronk expressed disbelief that his quarterback is spending his last day in his 30s.

“There’s nowhere else he wants to spend it besides the football field. But it’s just unbelievable how he’s turning 40 and just where he’s at right now is just unreal,” Gronkowski said.

Yes it is, and it remains to be seen how long he’ll continue to play at a high level, or to play at all — for the Patriots or someone else.

Tom Brady returns to the top spot in merchandise sales


The G.O.A.T. has returned to the top of the stack.

After yielding the NFLPA player merchandising title to Cowboys rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, who finished No. 1 and No. 2 for the year ending February 28, 2017, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has reclaimed the throne for the quarter ending July 31, 2017.

The NFLPA released on Tuesday morning the periodic Top 50 list reflecting comprehensive merchandise sales of all licenses products, from jerseys to T-shirts to bobbleheads to anything and everything.

Here’s the full top 10: (1) Brady; (2) Elliott; (3) Prescott; (4) Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch; (5) Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson; (6) Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant; (7) Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers; (8) Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr.; (9) Steelers receiver Antonio Brown; and (10) Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.

It’s amazing that Brady continues to do so well when it comes to jerseys and other merchandise, given that fans have had 16 years and counting to buy things bearing his name and likeness. At this point, it’s safe to say he’ll continue to be at or near the top of the list for the rest of his career, and maybe for a few years after it ends.

Where does Matthew Stafford rank among the NFL’s top quarterbacks?


Quarterback Matthew Stafford currently has the Lions over a contractual barrel. Whether he receives another huge contract or goes year-to-year and makes more than $100 million from 2018 through 2020 obscures the question of how good he really is, in comparison to other quarterbacks.

Appearing on Monday’s PFT Live, former NFL quarterback Chris Simms put Stafford at No. 3 in the league behind Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

The notion of Stafford being that good in relation to the other great quarterbacks seems surprising at first blush. But if he’s not No. 3, who is? Drew Brees, arguably. Maybe Ben Roethlisberger. Matt Ryan possibly. Cam Newton or Russell Wilson? Perhaps. Andrew Luck isn’t healthy, and who knows when he will be.

It’s really not crazy to put Stafford in that category. Yes, he hasn’t won a playoff game. But he’s taken a chronically based Lions team to the postseason three times since 2011, and whether a team thrives isn’t solely determined by quarterback play.

Weigh in below with your thoughts. Ultimately, it’s not going to matter to his next contract, because the Lions won’t be letting him walk until they can find someone as good or better. And whoever is as good or better than Stafford simply isn’t and won’t be available.

Rob Gronkowski is working with Tom Brady’s nutritional “guru”

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Rob Gronkowski is working with Tom Brady’s body coach. Maybe it will help him avoid nagging injuries — at least if he doesn’t drown first.

According to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, the Patriots tight end has decided to adopt some of the ways of his quarterback and his nutrition guru Alex Guerrero, though he hasn’t gone with the full program.

For instance, Brady doesn’t drink alcohol, and Gronkowski, well, he has been known to on occasion. Asked how that fits into his new program, Gronkowski referred the question to “the guru.”Guerrero said that for every drink that’s not part of his plan (either coffee or alcohol), Gronkowski has to drink at least three glasses of water.

Rob has been really committed,” Guerrero said. “He’s done a great job. The foundation has been set. Certainly, we’re not done.”

The 28-year-old Gronkowski has been working out at the TB12 facility in addition to what he does with the team, and has taken on many of the points of the nutritional program, with Brady even cooking some of the plant-based meals for him. But after a career marked by a number of injuries and surgeries, he’s hoping to do anything he can to keep himself on the field and he likes the early returns.

“Just looking at Tom, seeing what he does every day, what he eats, talking to him, personally one-on-one, just learning about the body with him, just seeing how flexible he is, how pliable he is, how loose he is all the time, every day and ready to go, I just felt like it was the time in my career where I needed to devote myself at all levels,” Gronkowski said. “I just felt like I had to add on to what I was doing. Find a way that my body will respond so I can perform every day. Be in prevention mode for injuries happening.

“I definitely feel like a brand new guy just being able to do exercises here [at TB12]. Exercises that help stabilize your core, exercises that help me and my whole body.”

While there are legitimate questions about Guerrero’s methods (he’s been investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for making medical claims which can’t be verified), Brady’s performance at an advanced age has earned converts.

And if that means Gronkowski starts drinking avocado margaritas, that might have to be the price to pay.

Every year is a potential farewell tour for Ben Roethlisberger

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Some (i.e., me) think that Tom Brady continues to suggest he’ll be playing for years into the future so that he’ll never have a farewell tour. For Ben Roethlisberger, every year officially will now be a potential farewell tour.

In an interview with Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger made it clear that he’s now on a year-to-year arrangement.

“It’s just, it’s 14 years; that’s a long time,” Roethlisberger said. “I think the average life expectancy in the NFL is three years, maybe three-and-a-half now. . . . I’ve been blessed to do this a long time. I think it’s just seeing my kids growing up, and in the offseason I love getting to spend time with them, and then I come here and football season just has to take up so much of your time. Even when you get home, I try my best to turn it off when I walk in the front door. I think I do a pretty good job of that, but it still consumes you in a way.”

Roethlisberger also mentioned concerns about head injuries, adding that his wife “would be OK if I hung it up, too.” But he said he still loves his teammates, making it right for him to return for another year.

He won’t commit beyond this year. And there’s a chance, in theory, that he’ll decide at some point during the coming season that he doesn’t want to play another one. At that point, the farewell tour officially would begin.

Followed by the retirement. Followed by, possibly, the First Annual Unretirement.

Crowds keep getting bigger at Patriots practices


With Tom Brady now reaching G.O.A.T status, it’s critical to see him play before his career ends. It’s also critical, apparently, to see him practice.

Via Mike Reiss of, more than 15,000 fans showed up for Thursday’s Patriots practice. The team opened Gillette Stadium ramps overlooking the practice fields to accommodate the sea of humanity hoping to see the Patriots play.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski understands the magnitude of the interest, and he acknowledges who it’s for.

“Every single year it gets louder and louder,” Gronkowski said, via Reiss. “It’s Tom. If I was in the stands, too, I’d be up on my feet cheering for him. What he’s done for this organization, for all the fans, all the football he keeps playing, it’s just unbelievable. I think every time he gets out on the field, he deserves a standing ovation. I would be one of them in the crowd doing it too.”

And that’s one of the only times that Gronk has ever used the phrase “doing it” without it referring to oh never mind.

Aaron Rodgers has rekindled “love affair” with football

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There was a time when Aaron Rodgers thought he’d be finished as a football player in his mid-30s.

But now, the Packers quarterback says he’s back to his “love affair” with the game, and that has made him want to continue on much longer than he previously thought.

“[That feeling] has kind of given me the idea that this is what I want to do. I love football, and I want to keep playing as long as possible,” Rodgers said during an interview on Wilde & Tausch on ESPN Wisconsin. “And when you have that kind of slight shift in your thinking, then you start going to, ‘How can I do that?’ And the way you can do that, in my opinion, is taking care of yourself at a hyper-sensitive level to all the areas that that entails — the rehab area, the eating area, the workout/focus area. And all those combined have kind of given me the idea that I’d like to keep playing at a high level, as fun as it is right now.”

If that sounds a little Tom Brady, it’s probably not accidental, as the two have become friends and Rodgers has taken his own steps (which don’t involve avocado ice cream) to keep himself going into his 40s.

So as the 33-year-old Rodgers enters his 13th NFL season, he’s thinking more long-term, and appreciating the game more than he has before.

“I think it’s a change, a slight change that happened the last few years, where it really has become just a love affair,” Rodgers said. “From [being] a game I always enjoyed playing and enjoyed competing and am hyper-competitive [in] to just really loving the process even more — the practice, the preparation, just enjoying those moments even more.”

Of course, this love story might not include the kind of paparazzi treatment previous relationships have led Rodgers into, but it will certainly make Packers fans swoon, as they imagine a long and happy marriage.

Wednesday morning one-liners

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Veteran players on the Jets insist there will be no tanking.

Should the Bills cut DT Adolphus Washington for his recent weapons arrest?

The Dolphins are beefing up security at training camp.

Did last year’s suspension actually work in favor of Tom Brady?

The Ravens are a team under construction heading into camp.

Ex-Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins wrote a letter to Cincinnati after announcing his retirement.

And as an ex-Brown, Hawkins wrote to Cleveland as well.

Here’s what to do if you’re heading to Steelers camp.

NFL Network will have a setup at Texans camp.

Colts WR Chester Rogers is a player to keep an eye on in training camp.

Jaguars C Brandon Linder said he wanted to get his contract extension done so he could focus on training camp.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota is feeling great heading into camp.

The Broncos have announced that former head coach Gary Kubiak is returning to the team in a front office role.

Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt says he’s trying to adjust to a new playbook.

As the Chargers work out Robert Griffin III, many in Los Angeles are asking why they’re not considering Colin Kaepernick.

The Raiders hope TE Jared Cook gives them an option over the middle they didn’t have last year.

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is feeling good heading into camp.

One columnist has some tough talk for Giants WR Odell Beckham.

It’s still unclear whether Eagles WR Jordan Matthews will be on the field on Thursday.

Washington CB Josh Norman says everyone believes in QB Kirk Cousins, regardless of his contract status.

Here’s a look at the Bears’ training camp schedule.

Lions RB Theo Riddick hopes to be back soon after a wrist injury.

The Packers’ Family Night usually fills Lambeau Field for a practice.

Said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer after watching the first couple practices of training camp, “They are working hard and we have got a lot of stuff in. I think practice was pretty good yesterday.”

How much should the Falcons pay RB Devonta Freeman?

Should the Panthers be concerned about C Ryan Kalil’s shoulder?

Here’s a look at the Saints’ likely roster.

It’s unfair to expect Bucs DT Gerald McCoy to be Warren Sapp.

Cardinals LB Scooby Wright made an impressive play in training camp.

Here’s what the Rams hope to accomplish in training camp.

The 49ers’ top pick, Solomon Thomas, remains unsigned.

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett’s forthcoming book is titled, “How to Make White People Uncomfortable.”

PFT preseason power rankings No. 1: New England Patriots

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Two weeks. 16 days. 31 individual snapshots of the various NFL franchises. One to go.

You already knew which team it would be after we unveiled No. 2 (hell, you probably knew who it was before we unveiled No. 32). The Patriots. Five-time Super Bowl winners. Two in the last three years. And, most importantly, the only defending champions to ever mash the gas in an effort to get even better.

Yes, the new G.O.A.T. has an improved roster on both sides of the ball as he tries to get his record-extending sixth Super Bowl win for a quarterback, which also would catch the Steelers for the most by any franchise. They’ll be the overwhelming pick to get there, and to win it. Which, of course, will only make it harder to do.

But do it they can. With an obsessive focus on the here and now, the Patriots never get flustered by the big picture or expectations or anything else that has caused many a contender to slip from contention. And while it would be foolish to hand the Lombardi to the Patriots without playing the 267 games that come before it officially happens, it’s hard to recall a preseason favorite who was more of a postseason favorite than the Patriots.

Biggest positive change: In an offseason with plenty of positive changes, perhaps the biggest addition for 2017 and beyond comes from Buffalo, where the Bills weren’t interested in keeping cornerback Stephon Gilmore — but the Pats were willing to pounce. And since the Patriots have seen Gilmore twice per year for five years, they’ve surely seen something they like. And now they have insurance against the eventual departure of Malcolm Butler, who is sticking around for one more year, and probably only one more year. However they use Gilmore, coach Bill Belichick knows everything Gilmore can and can’t do.

Biggest negative change: For a defending Super Bowl winner, there weren’t nearly as many as usual. The biggest name to leave was a guy no one ever expected to stay — tight end Martellus Bennett. Enter former Colts tight end Dwayne Allen, who potentially will help fill the role, if he’s not overwhelmed by the Patriot Way. The addition of other receivers and running backs will help, too, as the Patriots assemble perhaps the best array of offensive weapons they’ve ever had.

Coaching thermometer: 459 below Fahrenheit. Negative 253 Celsius. Absolute zero. Belichick has the job for as long as he wants it. Not even an 0-16 disaster would get him fired, not that an 0-16 disaster would ever happen to him. The real question is whether they go 16-0 for the second time in 10 years. And indeed they could.

We’d like to have a beer with . . . Belichick. Everyone who knows him swears that when he gets away from football he’s not the cold, flat, monotonous, day-to-day bad ventriloquist whose mouth moves just enough to confirm that he’s the one who’s talking and/or breathing. So let’s get him away from football and get him a beer and talk about boats or Bon Jovi or the history of the single wing or whatever tickles his fancy and gets him to act like something other than a cyborg whose only sign of humanity is the fact that he’s gaining wrinkles and losing hair.

How they could prove us wrong: It won’t take much to prove us wrong, because any deviation from wire-to-wire No. 1 seed would prove us wrong. The only potential vulnerability may be man-to-man coverage, which seemed to work (relatively speaking) when deployed by the Houston and Atlanta defenses in the postseason. The Steelers are hoping to use it more in an effort to match up better with the Patriots, who can’t be covered effectively in zone because Tom Brady can spot and dismantle any collection of defenders aimed at covering spots and not players.

Jerry Jones reiterates support for Ezekiel Elliott


At a time when Ezekiel Elliott is reportedly bracing for a suspension, his boss may be bracing for a fight.

Cowboys owner and G.M. Jerry Jones addressed with reporters on the first day of camp the one-year-old allegations of domestic violence against Elliott. And Jones has not wavered from his belief that Elliott is innocent.

“I have reviewed everything and there is absolutely nothing — not one thing — that had anything to do with domestic violence,” Jones said, via Todd Archer of

This statement implies that Jones hasn’t truly reviewed everything, because the alleged victim’s version of the events undoubtedly has something to do with domestic violence. Otherwise, there would be nothing to investigate.

While Jones technically has no control over what happens, that won’t keep him from trying to push the outcome in a given direction. Or, more accurately, to continue to pressure the league office to exonerate Elliott.

It’s believed that he’s already made it clear that he won’t be as compliant as Patriots owner Robert Kraft was when the league suspended Tom Brady four games, and Jones’ comments from earlier this afternoon make it clear that the passage of time has put Jones in the mood for a compromise or any other outcome that entails not having Elliott available to play football for the Dallas Cowboys.

Does Belichick think Garoppolo will be the next Brady?

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Tom Brady supposedly hopes to play for another five or six seasons. Jimmy Garoppolo has only one more season of a commitment to the Patriots. So how will this one play out?

Coach Bill Belichick may eventually have to make a choice between the two. Underscoring the stakes of that decision is the possibility that Garoppolo could become the next Brady.

“Bill thinks he’s got the next great one,” an unnamed scout told Mike Giardi of CSN New England. “I watched his snaps. I think he can be that. [Garoppolo] has a great base, and his mechanics are close enough to [Brady] that you appreciate his willingness to learn and the coaching he’s gotten there.”

If Belichick truly has the next great one, so does agent Don Yee, whose firm represents both Brady and Garoppolo. Given that Brady consistently has done below-market deals with the Patriots, many assume that Garoppolo will behave the same way, especially in light of the Yee connection.

But what if Yee intends to make back from Garoppolo some of what Yee didn’t make from Brady? What if Garoppolo, buoyed by the Kirk Cousins situation and an emerging sense among players that they individually should be making more than they do, decides to play the same kind of hardball with Belichick that Belichick consistently plays with all of his players?

Garoppolo is 16 regular-season games and up to four postseason games away from becoming a free agent. And those games likely will involve little or no risk, since Plan A will be for QB1 to take all the snaps. Indeed, Garoppolo’s biggest injury risk will come over the next month, when he’s taking snaps behind the second-string offense line.

Like every other quarterback due to become a free agent, the analysis of his value is simple. The franchise tag will exceed $22 million for 2018. And that number will become at least $26.4 million for Garoppolo in 2019 and at least $38 million for 2020. That’s a minimum of $86.4 million that Garoppolo would make on a year-to-year basis over three years, if the Patriots keep using the franchise tag to keep him in place.

If they don’t tag him in any given year, Garoppolo would hit the open market — and possibly hit the jackpot. Ultimately, then, the question will be whether he’s not only the “next great one” but also the next great one to accept less-than-great contracts in a sport where the stars seem to be waking up to the leverage they possess.

PFT preseason power rankings No. 8: Kansas City Chiefs


While the Chiefs may not be knocking on the door of the Super Bowl, they’ve been loitering on the porch. For 2017, the question is whether they’re deliberately taking a few steps down toward the sidewalk in order to getting a running start that will knock it down.

In three of coach Andy Reid’s four seasons with the team, the Chiefs have made it to the postseason. But a bye in 2016, their first first-round bye since 2003, led to the same outcome as each of the other three times they skipped wild card weekend and hosted a game in the round of eight: The Chiefs lost.

They last made it to the AFC title game in 1993, and most perceive a gap between Kansas City and Oakland even though Kansas City, not Oakland, most recently won the AFC West. Contributing to the confusion regarding the Chiefs was the curious decision to invest two first-round pick in a work-in-progress quarterback when Alex Smith still has gas in the tank. The move became an obvious admission that they believe Alex Smith is a guy who can keep them on the porch, but not much more than that.

Biggest positive change: In an offseason that didn’t feature much in the way of veteran player acquisition or departure, the effort by the franchise to get a franchise quarterback stands out — if they’re right about Patrick Mahomes. For now, it’s a coin-flip proposition at best, especially with Mahomes making the difficult transition from the college spread to Reid’s version of the West Coast offense. Given that the league has three types of teams — teams with franchise quarterbacks, teams trying to find franchise quarterbacks, and teams who aren’t quite sure whether their quarterback is a franchise quarterback — the Chiefs have decided after four years with Alex Smith that he isn’t. While the move may not bear much fruit in 2016, it sets the stage for filling the void that will emerge in the conference if Tom Brady is in the final year or two of his career.

Biggest negative change: The sudden, abrupt decision to dump receiver Jeremy Maclin surprised many and reinforced the idea that the Chiefs are focused more on developing for the future than pushing their chips to the middle of the table right now. And while Reid knows Maclin well enough to know when to get out from under an eight-figure salary, the fact that the Chiefs didn’t try to get him to take less and stick around means that they simply wanted to clear him off the roster so that younger guys can get the reps. If the younger guys can’t get it done, however, that won’t help the Chiefs get to the divisional round again, and it definitely won’t help them get past it.

Coaching thermometer: By getting an extension on the same day G.M. John Dorsey got a pink slip, Reid has as much security as any coach in football. And with Brett Veach replacing Dorsey, many believe Reid will now have even more influence over the roster. So if the Chiefs are indeed taking a step or two back in an effort to eventually take a step up, chances are that Reid will be there every step of the way.

We’d like to crack a beer with . . . Eric Berry. He overcame cancer and has returned as good as ever, becoming the heart and soul of the team and finally getting a contract that reflects it. What does he really think about undermining Smith and eventually replacing him with Mahomes? What does the think about the way Maclin’s exit was handled? Does he truly believe that the team is moving in the right direction, and that the team can put together a championship-caliber offense before the window closes on a quality defense?

How they can prove us wrong: If they decide to throw Mahomes into the fray as a rookie in the hopes of having the game slow down for him sooner than later, the Chiefs could quickly become not a top-10 team. Likewise, the apparent plan to thrust 2016 rookie phenom Tyreek Hill (who averaged only 5.3 touches from scrimmage per game last year) into a bigger role will mean more opportunities to take more of the hits that are more likely to lead to an injury.

At age 40, Tom Brady may do what only Warren Moon has done before

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On August 3 Tom Brady will turn 40, an age at which NFL quarterbacks have rarely been able to keep playing. But if Brady plays in 2017 at anywhere close to the same level he played in 2016, he’ll be the best 40-year-old quarterback the league has ever seen.

So far, the list of quarterbacks who have entered a season at age 40 or older and played well that year consists of just one name: Warren Moon, who entered the 1997 season at age 40 (and turned 41 during the season), and that year he led the NFL with 245.2 passing yards per game and was chosen to the Pro Bowl.

Other than Moon, the list of quarterbacks entering a season at age 40 and older is a list of players who were past their primes. Brett Favre entered the 2009 season at age 39 and played well after his 40th birthday, but by 2010, the season he entered at age 40, he had fallen off a cliff. Doug Flutie and Vinny Testaverde were still in the league after turning 40, but they didn’t play particularly well. Hall of Famers Len Dawson and Sonny Jurgensen played at age 40, but they were backups.

If Brady can do anything close to what he did last year, when he threw 28 touchdown passes and two interceptions, it will be by far the best season of any quarterback who entered a season age 40 or older. And even if Brady takes a significant step backward, he’d almost certainly be the second-best 40-year-old quarterback behind Moon.

Brady is going to get old eventually, because everyone does. But he’s poised to be the best old quarterback ever.