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Happy birthday, Tom Brady

Tom Brady

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady follows through on a pass during an NFL football practice, Monday, July 30, 2018, at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

AP

Tom Brady has survived yet another trip around the sun.

He’s 41 as of today, a rare starting quarterback still functioning at a high level a year into his fifth decade, and still (supposedly) determined to play until he’s 45.

Whether he means it remains to be seen. For the past few years, I’ve believed that Brady simply wants to never have a Jeter-style farewell season, for a variety of reasons. Brady instead wants to be done when he’s done, with no advance warning or notice. Saying he intends to play longer than he actually plays would be the only practical way to pull it off.

Some think that he’ll walk away with one more Super Bowl win. Others think he’s got two years left, Super Bowl win or not. Both positions assume that he’ll ultimately be able to walk away on his own terms.

As a league source pointed out a year or so ago, the thing to watch with Brady isn’t his arm but his legs. Although when he decides to go vertical he looks like he’s chasing a kid who just stole his skis, Brady continues to have the ability to adroitly and effectively move and slide in the pocket, avoiding pressure and ducking big hits. The moment he can’t do that is the moment his performance begins to crumble, with every game becoming like one of those rare games when the defensive line gets to Brady early and often enough to make him look mortal.

He definitely is mortal. And he definitely won’t continue to play football indefnitely. I think.

Either way, happy birthday.