As a guy whos spent the last three years dating a girl who's six years his junior, Id like to think that I know a thing or two about age discrepancy. And while Im sure there are probably more Norv Turner fans in San Diego right now than CSNNE readers who give the slightest crap about my personal life, for the sake of Tom Brady and Andrew Luck, take a second and hear me out. Itll be quick, and honestly, not even that personal.
This is by no means a groundbreaking statement, but one thing I can say for sure is that a relationship (as long as everyones legal) should never be defined by age. In many ways, nothing should, but in terms of a relationship . . . I mean, its just life. Everyone lives it differently. Some 30-year-olds act like theyre 20, some 30-year-olds act like theyre 50, some 30-year-olds bounce back and forth between the two, freaking themselves out every step along the way. Which group is right? Depending on whom you ask, theyre all right. Or theyre all wrong. Its a total mess. And sometimes that mess results in a connection between two people who are in similar stages at different ages. And sometimes it works. Age isnt always a big deal.
But with that being said and re-iterating the fact that my girlfriend is now a far beyond legal and professional human being Ill admit that theres nothing creepier or more jarring about our six-year difference than when we play a game of How old were you in . . .
For instance, in the spring of 1998, I was graduating high school and she was finishing up sixth grade. In 2002, I was graduating college and she was a high school sophomore. In 2012, Im expecting Chris Hansen to bust through my door with a camera crew. But only when I think about it in those terms.
And thankfully, thats not the reality.
OK, back to Tom Brady.
Heading into Sundays game against the Colts, there are a ton of interesting storylines surrounding New England, Indianapolis, and really, the entire NFL. We can talk about how the Pats defense needs to redeem itself after last weeks disaster. We can talk about Chuck Pagano and the feel good story of the year. We can talk about HOW SOMEONE ON THE JETS SAID THAT TIM TEBOW SUCKS AND PRETEND THAT ANYONE CARES!
But more than anything, I want to talk about Brady vs. Luck: Chapter 1.
Here in New England, we do our best not to think about Tom Bradys age. And for the most part, I dont think we need to. While theres no doubt that hes getting older, at this point, its clear that Tom Bradys 35 goes against the stereotype. For all the grumblings about his downfall, Bradys still averaging 293.9 yards a game and is on pace to eclipse 4700 passing yards for only the third time in his career. His 0.8 interception percentage matches his lowest ever. On that note, only five guys in the league have thrown more passes than Brady this season, but not one starting quarterback has thrown fewer interceptions. His 80.9 Total Quarterback Rating ranks second in the NFL, and is his best since ESPN started tracking the stat back in 2008.
Bottom line: With Brady, age isnt a big deal. Not yet at least.
But with that being said, and as much as its all true, Tom Bradys 35 is no match for a little game of How old were you in . . . with Andrew Luck.
For instance, when the Pats drafted Brady in the spring of 2000, Andrew Luck was in the fourth grade. When 24-year-old Brady arrived in the fall of 2001, Luck had just turned 12. In the spring of 2008, as Brady was in recovery from the most historic loss of his career (and no one had even heard of Bernard Pollard), Luck was giving the valedictorian speech at Stratford High School in Houston.
Think about that for a second: Tom Brady is 35. Andrew Luck is 23.
In a way, it leaves you with even more respect for how long Bradys been doing this. But on the other hand, it also reminds you of how long Bradys been doing this. Its like, OK, he might not be old, but my God, hes old! And Luck? He was born in 1989! In my head, he shouldnt even be old enough to have his drivers license, never mind lead a team into Gillette Stadium.
But obviously, the dynamic between Tom Brady and Andrew Luck cant be defined by a 12-year discrepancy.
First of all, because of everything I already said about Brady. And second, because the age of 23 has nothing on Andrew Luck. The kids a freak in every positive connotation of the word. He's barely human.
On the field, its already clicking. Since throwing three interceptions in Week 1 at Chicago (aka the most horrifying way for any quarterback to kick off his NFL career), Lucks thrown more than one interception in a game only once, and has only thrown two over the course of Indys four-game winning streak. For the season, his QBR (77.6) ranks fourth in the NFL, behind only Peyton Manning, Brady and Matt Ryan. Hes not as good as he will be, but Lucks already a legitimate quarterback. Hes not 23. And off the field, thats only magnified.
What Luck has been forced to deal with behind the scenes this year makes Week 1 at Soldier Field feel like a home game against the Stanford JV. Theres the pressure of being the No. 1 pick. The pressure of taking over for one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. And . . . theres pressure and emotional chaos that comes with your coach being diagnosed with cancer three games into the season, and being forced to leave the team. Lucks handled it with ease. At least on the surface. His comfort and confidence with the media is almost bizarre. Its hard to believe that someone that age could be so polished, but at the same time so introspective and revealing. To be honest, it reminds me a lot of Tiger Woods, which is at least somewhat concerning. But for now, Luck is already as good as advertised.
Of course, hes not on Bradys level yet, and I think the final score on Sunday will prove that. But the game will also serve as the first chapter in what will likely become a historically significant NFL rivalry. A tailor made passing of the torch.
Brady says that he wants to play five more years, and theres no reason to believe that he cant. But if he wants to stick around, he better get used to dealing with Luck.
The two might be 12 years apart, but it wont be long before their lives and careers converge on the same path. And while you can sometimes make that work in a relationship, in football, it's a collision course.
For Brady and Luck, Sunday's just the beginning.