As the NFL becomes more of a business, more people question the longevity of aging stars. At age 37, Tom Brady is being heavily scrutinized—many inhabitants of the football world don’t think he will last much longer, maybe a few more seasons. As he showed during the Dennis & Callahan morning show on Tuesday, Brady simply doesn’t care what other people think.
Brady called a spade a spade by asserting, “when I suck, I will retire.” If the future Hall of Famer is true to his word, then he could be playing for many more years to come. Brady may be on the home stretch of his career, but it will be a pretty long home stretch if he plays anything like he did last season. And no, Brady’s numbers in 2013 weren’t exactly awe-inspiring, but at the end of the day, all that matters is winning, and Brady surely hasn’t shown signs of losing.
The secret of Brady’s greatness is his ability to succeed in any situation. The Super Bowl wins of the early 2000s were fueled by a small-ball passing game and power running; the near-perfect season of 2007 was characterized by a high-flying aerial attack. And last season, Brady pushed the New England Patriots to their third consecutive AFC title game appearance with a crop of inexperienced and wide-eyed pass catchers.
The spark plug behind all those wins is a 199th overall pick who thrives off of proving doubters wrong. Brady isn’t intimated by his age—rather, he embraces his nursing-home status and will only work that much harder to get the last laugh. Brady is well aware that he is arguably the most hated figure in American sports, and he relishes it.
If Brady really does play until he is no longer effective, he could be wearing Patriot blue into his early forties. With the way the Patriots’ roster is shaping up entering Week 1, with so many promising young players on both sides of the ball, it’s not unrealistic to think that Brady will snag a few more Super Bowl rings before bidding the NFL farewell in the ballpark of 2020. Then he really would be the most hated player in sports—and he wouldn’t care at all.