By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Terry Bradshaw played in just one game in 1983, his Hall of Fame career coming to an end at age 35. As such, Bradshaw can’t fully understand the thinking of a player like Tom Brady, who’s looking to play at age 43, age 44, and even age 45.
Still, Bradshaw has some opinions about Brady’s late-career quest, and they’re not particularly nice.
Asked by The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette about Brady’s decision to sign as a free agent with Tampa Bay, Bradshaw said it was a matter of ego.
“Why in the world does he want to keep on playing at 43 other than to prove to New England he’s more important than Bill Belichick?” Bradshaw told The Athletic. “That’s the way I would look at it. Why the hell do you want to go to Tampa? The only thing I can think of is ego gets involved and you decide, ‘I’ll show ’em who’s more important.'”
Bradshaw noted that during his own career, he would have retired before he ever played for another team, so he cannot understand Brady’s thought process. But he nevertheless speculated that Brady is not motivated by a desire to keep playing at the highest level or to win Super Bowls. Rather, Bradshaw believes that Brady is motivated to show he’s been more important to the Patriots than Bill Belichick.
“I don’t know what the hell Tom’s doing,” Bradshaw said. “I think Tom, at 43, there has to be something going on for him to want to leave there, right? Gotta be. He’s got to feel they don’t want him, he’s got to feel unappreciated, got to feel, ‘I got to get out from underneath Belichick.’ He knows they’re saying, ‘Who was more important, the coach or the quarterback?’ Has Robert Kraft come out and said, ‘We want him back, we need him back, he’s our guy?’ Is anyone fighting for him? I haven’t noticed any of that.”
Despite the fact that Brady has played through countless injuries and only missed time once in his career due to a torn ACL in 2008, Bradshaw questioned Brady’s ability to stay healthy — and even suggested Ben Roethlisberger is more durable.
“Part of me says it ain’t going to work,” Bradshaw said. “When you’re 43 years old, I don’t care if you eat grass and sand and whatever it is he does, that’s a tough call, man. He’s no Ben Roethlisberger; he can’t stay in and take the hit. He’s a tall guy, but he’s not a strong guy. I don’t know. Do I want him to succeed? Absolutely. He’s 43. I mean, 43? Forty-three? I can’t imagine that — can you?”
Roethlisberger missed four games in 2005 due to a knee injury, missed a game in 2006 due to the effects of a motorcycle crash, missed three games in 2012 due to injury, missed four starts in 2015 due to a knee injury, and missed two games in 2016 due to a knee injury. Last year, Roethlisberger missed 14 games after suffering an elbow injury that required surgery. Roethlisberger celebrated his 38th birthday earlier this month.
Brady, meanwhile, has made every single start since missing that 2008 season, save for a four-game suspension in 2016. He started all 16 games in 16 of his NFL seasons, including 10 of the last 11 seasons.
So, perhaps Bradshaw’s assessment is slightly inaccurate. Perhaps it’s wildly inaccurate. Time will tell, one supposes.
But as the 42-year-old Brady preps for his 21st season, it’s safe to assume Brady will be tabulating and compiling a nice and tidy spreadsheet of the doubters. For now, Bradshaw can fit in nicely next to the Raiders.