That Tom Brady wants to play into his 40’s is no revelation.
But until he’s 48 years old?
If there’s a reason why the Patriots quarterback wants to play “forever,” as Sports Ilustrated’s Greg Bishop documents in a fascinating profile of Brady’s training regiments, it is in no small part thanks to the work of Alex Guerrero, a 49-year-old California native with a master’s degree in traditional Chinese medicine, whom Bishop writes that teammates describe as Brady’s Mr. Miyagi.
Guerrero runs the B12 Sports Therapy Center that sits adjacent to Gillette Stadium, “500 feet to the northwest, inside a shopping plaza, next to a hair salon,” as Bishop describes it. In other words, it’s your average, non-descript locale among the retail world at Patriot Place.
But it is here that Brady’s body coach and business partner has been able to transform the QB into a modern wonder of agelessness. During a season in which Brady seemed to be nearing the end of the road, he has rebounded to more resemble the Hall of Fame quarterback Patriots fans remember. In many ways, including his mobility in the pocket, he’s been better than we’ve seen in years.
Everything,” says Guerrero, “is calculated.”
That’s their system. From the outset the principles made sense to Brady, who had spent the early part of his career like most athletes. He’d worried about injuries after they happened. He’d focused on rehabilitation as opposed to preventative maintenance. He was, he says, guiding a plane 30,000 feet into the air without having prepared for mechanical trouble. He would stick his elbow into an ice bucket after training sessions because that’s what people did. “It’s systematic,” Brady says. “I was part of that system. You’re in it for so long, you’re fearful of change. You always got in the cold tub, so you continue to.”
Guerrero challenged all of those notions. He showed Brady how the muscles in his forearm had, through lifting weights, become short and stiff and how that led to soreness when he threw. Together they worked to make those muscles longer and more flexible — “more like rubber bands,” says Brady, “so I can throw thousands of footballs and not worry.”
Brady’s throwing coach, Tom House, points to another former client, Nolan Ryan, as an athlete who was able to push his physical limits well into his 40’s. Ryan retired from baseball at age 46, and House sees the same path for Brady.
“Tom is pushing back the aging process,” says House. “There’s no reason he can’t do at 45 what he did at 25.”
There’s little evidence to prove him wrong. Despite his up-and-down 2013 season, and a slow start to 2014, Brady will likely throw for more touchdown passes than he has in three years, and is on pace to throw for 4,382 yards. His team is 10-3, has the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and save for the guy in Green Bay, and the one wreaking offensive lines in Houston, he’d be a shoo-in for NFL MVP. Again.
When any athlete reaches the age of 37, it’s fair to ask how long it can last, but Brady has also built his career on proving the naysayers wrong, leaving those who doubted him at any moment of his life in a dust of respect and awe. Guerrero’s presence seems to have added another chapter that Bishop describes as having a “spiritual impact” on the quarterback.
“Our method relates to being physically fit, emotionally stable and spiritually nourished,” says Guerrero. “Emotional stability allows you to have spiritual awareness. I always tell him and Gisele they’re the most spiritual nonreligious people I know.”
Yoga. Vegetable ice cream. This is the point where some may tend to roll there eyes at the new-age approach, wondering when the works of L. Ron Hubbard take credit next for Brady’s maintenance.
But this weekend against the Dolphins, Brady looks to secure yet another AFC East title, playing at a level many hoped, but realistically, probably didn’t expect after the way things started out this season in Miami.
Eleven more years of this seems a little difficult to imagine, but you tell Brady it can’t happen.
Our roundup of nationwide picks for Sunday’s Dolphins-Patriots game.
ESPN.com staff: Everybody picks the Patriots.
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: Patriots 29, Dolphins 20. “The Dolphins are essentially playing for their season here. They beat the Patriots in the opener, but that was a long time ago. This New England team is much better and is coming off a nice road victory at San Diego. The Miami defense has had trouble with the run lately — 28th in yards per attempt — and that will show up. Tom Brady will kill them with play-action. Patriots take it.”
CBSSports.com staff: Seven out of eight pick the Pats (New England by 7½).
Yahoo sports: All Patriots.
USA Today staff: All Patriots.
Foxsports.com staff: Patriots across the board.
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 31, Dolphins 20. “This year, the Dolphins commenced their late-season, playoff-missing slide a little earlier than last year. It continues against a Patriots team that needs only to sweep its division rivals to nail down home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.”
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 21, Dolphins 20. “The Patriots clinch the AFC East with a win, and they’ll get it against the Dolphins, who are a good team but have a tough road to the playoffs.”
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 34, Dolphins 10. “The Dolphins were the reason everyone started doubting the Patriots early. After all, they dismantled them on both sides of the ball in Week 1. You can bet that foul-mouthed fierce competitor Tom Brady will have that fresh in his mind to exact revenge, and more important, put away the AFC East with both Miami and Buffalo lingering in the race. Ryan Tannehill’s sole reliance on dinking and dunking without left tackle Branden Albert will allow the Patriots secondary to not worry about the deep ball while their pass rush puts on the big squeeze. ”
David Steele, Sporting News: Patriots 30, Dolphins 21. “The Dolphins won in Miami on opening day, sowing the initial seed of the possible demise of the Patriots and Tom Brady. It seemed legit then. Still, the Dolphins remain legit, at least on defense. That won’t nearly be enough this time.”
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Patriots 30, Dolphins 24. “Sure, Ryan Tannehill could have himself a day. And yes, the Dolphins did take care of the Patriots on opening weekend. That said, do you really trust Joe Philbin’s group? Do you trust Tannehill? And can you trust the receivers to make plays on this Patriots secondary, which has allowed opposing QBs to post a passer rating of just 83.9 this season? Miami’s pass rush darn near won this season’s Week 1 matchup by itself, harassing Tom Brady all day. Considering Brady is 25-2 in December home games, with one of those home losses coming back in 2002, I feel strangely comfortable with this pick.”
NFL.com staff: All Patriots.
Neil Greenburg, Washington Post: Pick: Patriots. Win probability: Patriots 73.9 percent. “Miami won the first meeting, but that was in Week 1. Since then, the Patriots have rose to the second-best team in the league.”
Boston Globe staff: All Pats (New England by 7 1/2).
It says here: Patriots 34, Dolphins 17. Patriots with yet another AFC East title. Hug a kitten, would ya?