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Tom Brady has achieved his longtime goal

Dolphins stripped of two draft picks for tampering with Tom Brady
Dolphins stripped of two draft picks for tampering with Tom Brady 04:24

BOSTON -- The third day of August used to be an unofficial holiday in the town of Foxboro, as it marked the date of birth for the man who delivered six championships and endless joy to the football fans in the region.

Those days in New England, of course, are long gone. But Wednesday nevertheless signifies a significant milestone in the career of Tom Brady, as he turns 45 years of age.

The age of 45 has been a target of Brady's, dating back to his mid-to-late-30s, when the relatively spry quarterback laid out his career plans. While those around him may have questioned how realistic that goal was, Brady never wavered. Not when the league sought to besmirch his name and dirty his legacy, not when he broached into uncharted territory for QBs, and not when the only team he had ever known gave up on him. Brady kept going, and he's still going.

"Look, I love playing," Brady said back in December of 2016. "I'd love to play this game for as long as I can. There's a lot of things that aren't up to me. But I'm gonna do everything I can to keep playing at this level for as long as I can. And I think I can do it."

Technically speaking, Brady did waver a bit this past spring, though his retirement always appeared to have been one odd power play regarding either his contract situation or an issue with Bruce Arians (or both). Considering how damn good Brady was last year as a quarterback, it was always a bit difficult to truly buy that he had retired. 

And make no mistake, Brady was damn good last year. Despite being older than just about every quarterback in history, he threw more passes than anybody in the league, he completed more passes than anybody in the league for more yards than anybody in the league and for more touchdowns than anybody in the league -- all while throwing just 12 interceptions. He had two games in which he threw five touchdowns with zero interceptions. He finished second in MVP voting but had a real case as being the most important player in the NFL. At age 44.

And he would have had a chance to win back-to-back Super Bowls, if only Todd Bowles hadn't assigned a safety playing 20 yards off the line of scrimmage to cover Cooper Kupp -- maybe the most dangerous receiver on the planet last year -- just moments after Brady and the Bucs' offense completed an unbelievable-yet-oh-so-predictable comeback to tie the game at 27-27, erasing a 24-point deficit in the process.

Nevertheless, you can't win 'em all -- even though Brady's tried. He'll take another kick at that can in the upcoming season.

Brady's overwhelming list of accomplishments is genuinely difficult to comprehend. But for the sake of this occasion, a look at his accomplishments after turning 39 should say all that needs to be said about this particular midlife endeavor.

From 2017 through 2021, Brady started 81 regular-season football games. He's won 60 of them, while completing 65.3 percent of his passes and throwing 168 touchdowns with 51 interceptions, good for a 98.6 passer rating.

He has twice led the NFL in passing yards, and he led the NFL in passing touchdowns at age 44.

He won an MVP at age 40, the oldest player to ever win the award.

He earned a spot as an AP First Team All-Pro (2017) and a Second Team All-Pro (2021) while adding three Pro Bowls to his resume.

But that's just the regular season. The real story of Tom Brady is all about the postseason. And Brady's seen a whole lot of postseason action in his 40s.

He's started 16 games, going 10-6. He's thrown 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He set a Super Bowl record for passing yards. He shredded the NFL's No. 1 defense with a massive gash in his throwing hand. He led an OT win on the road in Kansas City with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. He buzzed through those same Chiefs to win his seventh career Super Bowl.

To put some of that in perspective ... the 10 playoff wins after turning 40 would put him in a tie for 11th on the all-time postseason wins list for quarterbacks.

Dating back to his age 37 season, he's won 17 playoff games and four Super Bowls. No quarterback in history has ever won 17 playoff games in their entire career.

By all historical standards, he shouldn't be doing this. That's why so many people believed he was crazy when he pointed to age 45 as a goal. Pundits and analysts famously weighed in (Max Kellerman built a cottage industry out of doubting Brady before finally waving a white flag), but they weren't alone. The Patriots as an organization always remained cautiously skeptical of this fairy tale where Brady plays through his 40s, and that ultimately led to the one-year deal that automatically voided at the end of the 2019 season. After two decades of dominating the NFL, the Patriots didn't believe Tom Brady could keep doing it.

Yet as we know, he surely is doing it.

Now, the question moves to whether or not he'll continue playing after 45. But for now, as Brady celebrates his 45th birthday down at Buccaneers training camp, it's simply time to acknowledge the achievement of a long-stated goal for the best quarterback in football history.

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