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Tom Brady leaves door wide open on playing to 46, maybe beyond

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Contrary to previous beliefs, Saints GM Mickey Loomis says the Saints stopped courting Tom Brady after Drew Brees committed to returning for the 2020 NFL season.

Tom Brady will play until he’s 45. Unless he doesn’t.

The guy who used to say “10 more years” when asked about the intended duration of his football career at some point within the last 10 years changed his target to 45.

In a SiriusXM town hall with Jim Gray, Brady talked about playing football at an advanced age.

You’ve passed your physical prime, absolutely,” Brady said. “I believe that I sustained it for a long period of time. But I don’t see me now -- and there wouldn’t be a reason to like improve let’s say my arm strength or the distance I can throw a ball or the speed I can run physically. It is what it is. It’s just, I’ve actually maintained that for a long period of time through a lot of unique thoughts and my workout, my recovery, my training.

“You know, mentally I know how to prepare. So I think at lot of those things are -- it’s not, it’s really maintaining a championship level of play. It’s not about, you know, ‘How much better can I be at 44 than I was at 38?’ It’s more about, ‘Am I at championship level as a quarterback?’ And if I am, I’m gonna play and I’m gonna compete, because I love it. And I love playing the game. So, you know, naturally I think for people it’s always easy to say, you know, ‘What more is there to prove?’ or ‘Why keep playing?’ I play because I love the game. I play because I love to compete. You know, we shouldn’t stop our life, even though we love something, because it’s just someone puts an arbitrary timeline on that.”

So will he play beyond the “arbitrary timeline” of the 2022 season?

“I felt for a long time I could play until I was 45 years old,” Brady said. “This year, I’ll be 44. Which naturally takes me to next year, and I’ve got a two-year contract. We’ll see what happens beyond that.”

Gray asked if it’s possible Brady will play into 2023 and maybe beyond.

“I think I’ve got to get to that point first and then just evaluate how I feel and where I’m at in my life,” Brady said. “But things change as you get older, and there’s a lot of different responsibilities I have in my life. My kids and my family is certainly very important. They made a lot of sacrifices over a long period of time to watch me play. So I owe it to them, too.”

That last part becomes important, because Mrs. Brady is among those who have asked Tom, “What more do you have to prove?” With each passing season (and championship), there’s less and less for Brady to prove, to himself or anyone else.