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Further Review

Steve Hummer's Further Review blog offers comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports

Learning to respect the otherworldly qualities of Tom Brady - grudgingly


Tom Brady so obviously is an alien. We’re talking the extra-terrestrial kind, not the kind that sets Congress aflame. 

You simply cannot play football this long at this level and be of this earth.

You’ll know this for sure one day when Neil deGrasse Tyson writes his definitive biography. 

Peyton Manning was 39 when he won his last Super Bowl and looked every year of it. He practically creaked like a rusty gate when he broke the huddle. His passes began resembling birthday balloons.

And yet here is a quite-robust Brady at 40, an age when players are supposed to be cutting pizza ads and working from the safety of football’s deer stand, also known as the broadcast booth.

He looks like he’s still playing on his first contract.

He’s playing at an MVP level when he should be closer to playing to an AARP level.

You keep waiting for Brady to show some signs of calendar-based deterioration. An earthly mortal would be making some concessions to the passing of years by this time. All he’s doing, after having won five Super Bowl rings, is throwing perfect spirals and ordering a new display case for his next five rings.   

Life after 40 for most athletes is not supposed to be this many flavors of sweet. They work off a different time clock than the rest of us, the hour hand spinning more like a mower’s blade. The average span of an NFL player’s career is a little more than three years. Brady, working on his 18th season, barely cleared his throat in that time.

He has joined a quite rare cadre of athletes who have crossed that rickety bridge into their 40s and continued playing. Even among this group, their best days are mostly well behind them. But here is Brady, leading the NFL in passing yardage, playing like a MVP, which only further supports the Brady-is-ET theory.  

The oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl is furthering the notion that he also is the best to occupy that stage. Those normally are mutually exclusive concepts.  

I know, I know, we are supposed to sneer at the mere mention of Brady’s name, to cheer against him next week as committedly as we would a tax increase.

Regarding Brady, it never is just football, it’s class warfare. He’s the lone Have. Everyone else is the envious Have-Not.

Affection is out of the question. But as difficult as it may be, isn’t this the occasion to offer Brady a thimble full of respect? I’m really trying. It is so very difficult.

Like it or not, he is the one overriding reason to watch this Super Bowl, even for an Atlanta audience that finds little to like in any intersection between New England and Philadelphia.  

As for those back at Brady’s home planet – wherever that is – I do sincerely hope they can pull in the broadcast.


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About the Author

Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.