History on Gisele's side when it comes to giving Brady advice
With the New England Patriots in another Super Bowl, sooner or later you knew we'd hear from Tom Brady's wife. And we have ... sort of.
Stories this week had Gisele Bundchen imploring one of Brady's friends -- former kicker Jay Feely, to be exact -- to convince the Patriots' star last spring to consider retirement, and big deal, right? I mean, she said something similar following last season, so it's nothing new. Only now ... well, now maybe someone should tell Gisele what to do -- and I have an idea.
Stand up and take a bow. You deserve to be recognized.
Yes, her husband at 40 is better than most ... no, every ... quarterback out there, and reaching eight Super Bowls in 16 years as a full-time starter is nothing short of astounding. But the clock is ticking, and if Brady doesn't want to admit it -- and he won't -- his wife can and will. And good for her. She's trying to do what she believes is best for her husband and family (imagine) ... even if it means giving up what he loves and incurring the wrath of Patriots' Nation.
And I get it.
The record of 40-year-old quarterbacks isn't good. Heck, it isn't good for most 40-year-old football players outside of Adam Vinatieri and Morten Andersen. But they're kickers. Brady is a quarterback, and he's subjected to so much punishment ... year in and year out ... that his wife last year revealed he probably suffered multiple concussions.
So there's that. But then there's the history of his position, and it's littered with broken quarterbacks forced out of the game they love because time told them what they refused to admit: They couldn't play it anymore. We saw it with Unitas in Baltimore and, later, San Diego. We saw it with Marino in Miami. We saw it with Kelly in Buffalo. And we saw it with Manning in Denver.
Fortunately for Peyton, he knew when to leave. Following Super Bowl 50, he announced his retirement at the age of 39 ... and talk about timing. Not only was his last game a Super Bowl victory; but his last season was the worst of his career, a signal that retirement was no longer an option but a necessity.
Granted, Brady is an anomaly. What he's done this season is nothing short of mind-blowing. There is no quarterback I enjoy watching more, and, with how he's played the past two seasons, there's no reason to believe he can't continue another 2-3 years. Except there is. There's history.
The last great 40-year-old quarterback was Brett Favre in 2009. He had one of the best seasons of his life, with a career-best 68.4 completion percentage, 33 touchdowns, a career-low seven interceptions and a 12-4 record. Better yet, he led Minnesota to a division championship and was this close to returning to the Super Bowl before losing to New Orleans in the NFC championship game.
So what happened the following season? Nothing. And that's the problem.
Favre was as bad as he was sensational the year before, with eight more interceptions (19) than touchdowns (11) and the Vikings sitting him after he suffered a sprained shoulder, ending an NFL-record 321-game streak of consecutive starts (including the playoffs).
Soon after, he retired.
Then there's Hall-of-Famer Warren Moon. He had a great year when he was 39, tying his career best with 33 touchdowns, but was never the same afterward -- though, at 41, he did throw 25 touchdown passes in 14 games. He would never play a complete season afterward.
Hey, it happens.
Dan Fouts hit the wall at the age of 35. Dan Marino got there at 38. Joe Montana at 36, though he had two playoff seasons with Kansas City. Steve Young at 38. Troy Aikman at 34. Jim Kelly at 36.
I think you get the idea. All were Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks, yet all were driven from the game by age and/or injuries incurred by playing the most important ... and most vulnerable ... position in pro football. They are the rule. Tom Brady is the exception.
Yet when his wife asked him a year ago to consider retirement, he told her he couldn't because he was "having too much fun." Well, ask Steve Young or Troy Aikman how much fun it was to suffer recurring concussions at the end of their careers. It's not. That's why they got out when they could. Young could have quarterbacked Denver. Aikman could've gone on to San Diego. But both chose to walk away from the game before they were carried away.
Tom Brady would be wise to pay attention.
As I said, the guy's a freak. An absolute freak. There's nobody on this planet that should be doing what he is -- going to his third Super Bowl in four years as the presumptive league MVP at the age of 40. Superlatives don't do him justice. He is the greatest quarterback of the Super Bowl era and maybe, just maybe, the best of all time. But time is not on his side, and if he won't admit it, thank goodness his wife will.
"I agree with what she said 100 percent," said former linebacker Gary Plummer, who was one of the toughest players I ever encountered and left the game at 37. "What Brady's wife should do is she should call Steve Young and have Steve Young call Brady. Or Joe Montana. Someone he clearly grew up idolizing. I think both would tell him to get out. And they'd tell him to get out yesterday."
It's not going to happen. But maybe it should. It was George Santayana who once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." It is Tom Brady's wife who just reminded him.