Tom Brady is 39 and has Super Bowl victories over the Rams, Panthers, Eagles and Seahawks.
Oh, and he has also kicked the butt of Father Time.
With a win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI today, Brady would become the first quarterback to win five Lombardi trophies. Here’s the only thing more amazing than that: He’s not done. The guy is going to lick the spoon.
Brady is going to savor more from his career than any athlete in professional sports. You may recall that last year Peyton Manning, at 39, became the oldest quarterback to win an NFL title when the Broncos beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl. But Manning was a broken-down passenger along for the ride.
There’s no talk of retirement for Brady. He has said he plans to play well into his 40s. Here’s a guy who could drop the mic on life. He has won. Multimillionaire. Supermodel, multimillionaire wife. Three gorgeous kids. But he wants to keep playing football, with childlike enthusiasm and a village of professionals on his TB12 team to keep him feeling young.
“It’s nice to feel better as the season goes,” Brady said. “To be an older player and have the mental experience and then to also feel great physically, I think it’s a great benefit for me. Hopefully I can keep going. I don’t see any end in sight.”
If Brady has aged after 17 seasons, it’s almost undetectable, by physical appearance or otherwise. He may have a few fewer hairs, but that’s about it.
He credits his personal chef, Allen Campbell, for providing him with a diet that Brady claims has improved his performance. It’s 80 percent vegetables and whole grains and 20 percent fish and lean meats. He has sworn off sugar, white flour, MSG, salt, dairy, coffee, nightshade fruits and some vegetables, including tomatoes. He gets his fat from extra virgin olive oil or foods cooked in coconut oil.
Then there’s his personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, who is also the godfather to Brady’s son, Ben. Brady has been very durable. He missed only the 2008 season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in Week 1. Guerrero works on the pliability of Brady’s muscles to help him avoid injuries. A lot of resistance bands are involved. And when Brady does tweak something, Guerrero goes to work on him with deep tissue massages.
“I love this sport and I commit my life to playing it,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of decisions that I make based on my lifestyle that help me play at this more experienced age than most. I love doing it as you get older, it gets actually, I think, easier because you have priorities. If one of my priorities is to try to be a great quarterback, everything else kind of falls in line. When I was younger, there were different priorities. When you’re married and you have three kids, you have different priorities. That’s just what happens with life.”
The result has been no discernible erosion of Brady’s quarterbacking skills. He never had the strongest arm in the NFL, but there’s plenty of life in his passes. His mobility has always been limited, but it’s still very functional.
But Brady isn’t just preserving his body. He’s also improving his mental agility with a program called BrainHQ, a series of personalized programs that claim to help with attention, brain speed, memory, navigation and intelligence.
“There has been a lot of talk about concussions and head trauma and CTE,” Brady said. “I’ve learned that prevention is part of the issue. I work hard to try and prevent some of those things from happening. BrainHQ does a great job of cognitively trying to keep me ahead of any of those problems.”
It’s working, too. All of it. By any measurement, Brady is not slowing down. Heck, he may be getting better. This season, despite having to sit out a month with a four-game suspension, Brady went 11-1 and passed for 3,554 yards with 28 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
“Your body for an athlete is what your asset is,” Brady said. “If your body breaks down and you can’t perform then you have no job. I have tried to learn the right ways to take care of your body. I’ve talked about nutrition and hydration, the type of workouts that I do, the pliability work that I do. I think that is the reason why I am still playing.”