By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Remember the “cliff”? Of course you do.

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The “cliff” was the doom that Max Kellerman predicted was coming for Brady in 2016, at the ripe age of 39. The ESPN word-spewer said that Brady was “just about done” and that “he is going to fall off a cliff.” Kellerman accentuated this excellent bit of football analysis thusly: “Tom Brady is going to be a bum in short order.”

Brady then posted MVP-caliber numbers in 2016 (28 TDs, 2 INTs, 11-1 record, 67.4% completion rate, 8.2 Y/A) before authoring the greatest Super Bowl story of all time. Then he won an MVP in 2017 and threw for 500-plus yards in a Super Bowl loss. Then he went ahead and won another Super Bowl — his sixth — for good measure in 2018.

Clearly, Brady never arrived at the cliff. Clearly, Maxwell (or is it Maximillian?) Kellerman is a big bozoClearly, most people should not be thinking about the “cliff” anymore.

Alas, Tom Brady is not most people. And he showed in a recent Instagram post that he’s still using that doubt as motivation.

In a photo on his Instagram story showing Brady and trainer Alex Guerrero walking onto a field, Brady wrote, “Is the cliff this way?”

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(Photo from Instagram/@TomBrady)

(He also posted a few new shots of what he looks like in Bucs gear, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

That’s not the first time Brady has referred directly to the “cliff,” as he posted a photo of a radar gun reading of his lasers last summer:

Tom Brady photo from summer 2019 (Image via Instagram/@TomBrady)

Some might say that Brady should be much bigger than one bad bit of analysis from one bad analyst. Logically, they’d be correct.

But also … you don’t become the most accomplished quarterback in the history of football by being logical. To bring that level of competitiveness every day, to wholly dedicate one’s life toward health and fitness in order to play at an age older than most everyone who’s ever played, to continue an all-out effort to always improve … well, you have to find your motivation in various ways.

For Brady, the “cliff” talk from 2016 clearly provides a nice and easy representation of all of those who have doubted his abilities late in his career. That’s not to say that there haven’t been plenty of people praising Brady late in his career, but focusing on those people would clearly not work toward Brady’s goal of continuing to improve on the football field.

Throw in the added question of Brady trying to learn and direct an entirely new offense in an entirely new place for a team with entirely different standards and methods and everything else, and it’s clear that the Buccaneers will be getting a very motivated Tom Brady under center in 2020.

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(Photo from Instagram/@TomBrady)

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.