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Tom Brady turns 42, with no signs of slowing down

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Tom Brady spoke about how tricky it is to replace a player like Rob Gronkowski, leaving the door open for the star TE to make a return next season.

Somewhere, that courtroom sketch of Tom Brady resides in an attic, growing craggier and nastier and wrinklier every day.

Tom Brady the human turns 42 today, and he continues to exhibit all the traits of a man who could play quarterback in the NFL as long as he wants to play quarterback in the NFL.

This time it feels a little different, however. In the 2018 #HappyBirthdayTommy post, it was noted that some think he’s one more Super Bowl win away from retiring, or that he’d pack it in after two more seasons. The former was clearly erroneous; the latter still has a chance of happening, especially if Brady finagles Lombardi Trophy No. 7.

Regardless, he’s moving closer and closer to his expiration date (as we all are). At some point between 42 and 50, Brady presumably won’t be able to keep doing it at the level he’s been doing it. At some point, he’ll end what has become a two-decade chapter of his life and do something else. At some point, the Patriots’ constant fear that the end for Brady will come quickly and they won’t be prepared to continue to thrive without him may result in the Patriots making those preparations in a very clear and concrete way, forcing him to retire or to continue his career elsewhere.

Whenever and however the end for Brady plays out, astute observers advise watching his legs not his arm. Although never much of a straight-line runner, Brady has the ability to move away from pressure quickly and adroitly, stepping and sliding and effortlessly gliding as needed to avoid taking a big hit, all the while keeping his eyes in the direction of his receivers. In plenty of cases, his ability to recognize who will be open before the play is even snapped allows him to get rid of the ball before he even has to worry about stepping, sliding, and/or effortlessly gliding.

Still, that can’t and won’t continue forever. Some joke that the sixth-round pick turned all-time great superstar did a Damn Yankees-style deal with the devil; even if he did, the front end of the transaction can’t last as long as the back end.

Even if it nevertheless feels that way.