Maybe he actually is simply totally different, wired in such a means that the standard worries of center age — or, in sports activities phrases, superior age — merely won’t ever have an effect on him. Maybe Tom Brady really is immune to all of that, and he’ll blissfully throw tight spirals till he begins receiving literature from AARP within the mail.
Maybe his guardian angels will shield him higher than a five-man entrance of Anthony Munoz, John Hanna, Jim Otto, Bruce Matthews and Forrest Gregg.
But earlier than we merely assume that Brady could be Brady eternally — since we actually don’t have any proof in any other case — maybe it’s time to ask a special query.
Instead of: Why shouldn’t he play eternally?
Maybe we must always ask: Why ought to he?
What’s left to show? What’s left to acquire? And look: We aren’t merely speaking about him risking the embarrassment of being one other nice athlete who caught across the social gathering an hour too lengthy. Willie Mays battling the solar, Michael Jordan coping with aching knees, Wayne Gretzky adjusting to life as simply one other star, slightly than a deity: these have been all laborious to watch and, you’ll think about, more durable nonetheless to be.
But there was a distinction.
There wasn’t the weekly danger of significant, everlasting harm lurking on the opposite finish of a blitz, or a scramble, or just a unsuitable step. Football is totally different. Contact sports activities are totally different. It would have been good for Jordan to exit after breaking Byron Russell’s ankles in Salt Lake City, profitable the ’98 NBA title. His return as a Wizard was anticlimactic. It wasn’t unhappy.
Muhammad Ali, that was unhappy.
There have been any of a half-dozen occasions when Ali may’ve stayed away from boxing along with his legend and his senses at the least moderately intact. He walked away a bunch. He saved strolling again. Maybe he was already on the best way towards Parkinson’s when he stepped within the ring with Larry Holmes, or that terrible final bout with Trevor Berbick within the Bahamas.
But we’ll by no means know. What we do know is his closing retirement was at the least one retirement too late. Same with Sugar Ray Leonard, who may by no means keep away and paid a punishing surtax for that. So have been any of 100 wonderful boxing names scattered throughout time, powerful guys who may by no means fairly equal the repair of life within the gymnasium till it was solved for them.
Look, by the top an enfeebled Peyton Manning may barely hand a ball off, not to mention throw one with any semblance of accuracy. His closing second got here amid a bathe of Super Bowl confetti however eternally he shall be often called having been carried there by his Broncos teammates, not the opposite means round. And pay attention to Brett Favre’s halting cadence; you have got to surprise if these closing two years with the Jets and Vikings have been really value it.
Or you possibly can merely watch “Concussion” once more.
Again: possibly Brady is invulnerable to all of this. You can perceive why somebody nonetheless enjoying at an MVP stage is likely to be reluctant to completely move on Sunday afternoons. You can perceive how addictive life as a GOAT is. You can actually recognize the wage concerned in such a commerce, and the adulation, and the camaraderie with teammates that no athlete is ever once more ready to replicate regardless of if the ultimate recreation is in CYO or the NFL.
But those that surprise how Brady’s unretirement may have an effect on his legacy are lacking the purpose. For one factor, it’s already safe, identical as Mays was whatever the Oakland solar subject, identical as Jordan’s was when he performed nearer to the bottom than to the rim, identical as Ali’s was after the Rumble within the Jungle, or the Thrilla in Manila.
It’s his knees that’ll be in danger. And his shoulder. And his cranium. Life within the NFL means all the time current one hit away from the hospital. And that’s a shorter journey at 45 than it was at 25. With longer consequences.