By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady — at least publicly — believes he’s got many more years left in his NFL career. Entering his age 40 season, he’s been quite open about his desire to play until at least age 45 and perhaps beyond.
That’s something that his colleagues believe is impossible.
Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, in the wake of Gisele Bundchen talking about her husband’s concussions, talked to some NFL players about Brady’s goal of playing through his 40s. And the consensus? Brady can’t do it.
One NFL veteran who wanted to remain anonymous told Freeman, “It was always a joke to think that Brady can play that long. It’s impossible.”
Another anonymous NFL player told Freeman, “Tom is the greatest player I’ve ever seen, but when I got concussions in my 20s, it took me weeks to recover. If you get one at 43 or 45, I don’t think your brain would ever be the same again.”
Drew Brees put his name to his comment and was moderately supportive of the idea, saying that it’s “physiologically possible” for Brady to play through his 40s.
Freeman — who’s covered the NFL for decades — offered his own opinion:
The violence in football overwhelms any mechanisms to try to counter it. Nutrition doesn’t matter. Health doesn’t matter. People in their 20s can barely survive the NFL, let alone people in their 40s.
Brady is essentially the face of the NFL right now. And while he’s portrayed, in many ways, by himself, and people around him, as almost indestructible, stories of his belief he can play until he’s 45 cause many of us to temporarily forget these players are bashing their heads in and possibly doing irreversible damage to their minds.
The NFL isn’t a fairytale where the knight valiantly fights the dragon and then rides off into the sunset. The NFL is brutality and ugliness wrapped in a pretty garment and packaged to us on television with pretty graphics.
Certainly, history favors the side of Freeman and these anonymous players. Only Brett Favre has put together an exceptional season after turning 40, and no quarterback has ever thrived beyond that age. Brady doesn’t get walloped on a weekly or even monthly basis necessarily, but he still takes his fair share of licks.
Football is unquestionably a fiercely violent sport. Surviving for as long as Brady has is already in and of itself a minor miracle. If he really wants to fulfill his publicly stated goal of lasting five or six more seasons, he’ll have to achieve the impossible.