FOXBOROUGH – Tom Brady turned 35 Friday and his gift from the media today were questions about how it feels to play quarterback in the NFL at an advanced age.
Earlier in the week, director of player personal Nick Caserio was asked more or less to list some of the quarterbacks that stuck out to him who played at a high level at 35 years or older.
The usual suspects came up: Marino, Elway, Aikman.
He also threw out Vinny Testaverde and Doug Flutie, two guys, he said, who just loved playing the game.
Brady played with them both, and said it was fun to watch.
“I certainly learned a lot from them in terms of how to play the position and how to prepare mentally and physically for the season,” he said. “Both were great athletes and I really enjoyed having them as guys I could play with.”
Then, he made sure to stop the old-man talk.
“I’m a long ways from 42,” he said. “Hopefully, I’m still talking to you guys when I’m 42.”
He’s coming off one of the best seasons of his career, throwing 39 touchdowns and a career-high 5,235 yards looking like he could teach a master’s course in NFL offense. That, he said, was the one clear benefit of being experienced.
“The advantage as an older player is it’s not like I’ve got to study my playbook a ton,” he said. “I know what we’re doing, I know why we’re doing it. I know the calls. It’s more mentally making sure you’re bringing emotion and energy and making sure you have the enthusiasm and the execution is good. Everyone’s working on something.
“It’s not like you can just go through the motions out here, or else you don’t improve. I’m competing just like everybody else. I’m competing for my role, my spot and trying to be a good leader and trying to set a good example as a quarterback. I think that’s my challenge to come out here every day and bring everything I have to try to make us a better team.”
With the Saints set to come in Tuesday for joint practices, the Patriots worked on situational football – red zone, goal line, two-minute drills. Brady was visibly intense during the two-minute drills.
“I want to play a long time,” he said. “But I think the reality is we’re focused on this year and there’s no season other than this season that I’m worried about.”