Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

Tom Brady may be 43 years old, but there’s no sign that he’s retiring anytime soon. However, he should very much reconsider that thought.

The six-time Super Bowl champion is on the verge of a seventh Super Bowl title as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. Not only is he not lacking in championship hardware, he’s not showing any thoughts of retiring after this season — in fact, he stated earlier this week during Super Bowl LV week that he might just play past the age of 45.

Brady made rounds years ago when he declared his intention to play until the age of 45 — a feat only previously accomplished by George Blanda, who played until the age of 48 back in 1975.

The 21-year NFL veteran is on the verge of completing the first season of a two-year, $50 million contract he inked with the Buccaneers last offseason. That would mean Brady is guaranteed to play on an NFL team until age 44.

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians was asked to respond to Brady’s declaration on Thursday — however, he refused to commit to Brady on a contract extension, citing that’s not his responsibility.

“I don’t have anything to do with contracts, so that would have to be a [GM] Jason [Licht] question. I think Tom is real happy where he is at, and I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Despite not receiving an endorsement past the 2022 season, let’s be real — Brady will be a Buccaneer for as long as he wants to be.

And while he’s still a top quarterback in the NFL, let’s also be real — he should retire after this season if the Buccaneers knock off the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

Here’s the bottom line: no matter the result of this game, Brady will go down as the G.O.A.T.

Yes, are there many other players who deserve consideration — and have an argument — that they were greater than Brady? Sure.

But in the media’s eyes — who very much value championships — there is no parallel for Brady. Not only does he have the hardware, he has the statistics to support his cause (first in all-time passing touchdowns, second in all-time passing yards and completions).

With that being said, it’s not going to get any better than this.

Brady has managed to resuscitate a franchise that had been dormant since winning the Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 2002 season. In fact, prior to this year, they hadn’t won a playoff game since that season.

In fact, outside of a superb stretch in the late 90’s and early 2000’s under the lead of Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden, this has been a losing franchise since it entered the NFL in 1976. The franchise had just five playoff appearances — before this season — when you wipe away that stretch from 1997 until 2002.

He would not only be winning a Super Bowl for a historically inept franchise, he’d be the only one to do so in the team’s actual city, with Super Bowl LV taking place in Tampa.

That’s not even mentioning that Brady has knocked off Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers — two of the chief rivals of his generation — in the same postseason, and would be defeating the best of today, Patrick Mahomes.

To top it all off, he would conclude the 2020 season — whether it’s fair or not — as the unquestioned winner of the long-time “Brady vs. Bill Belichick” debate. Belichick just went through a 7-9 season with the New England Patriots — the franchise’s first losing season since 2000, when Brady was a backup quarterback.

And he would be doing all of this at the ripe old age of 43.

If Brady plays past this season, he’ll continue to be good. He’ll slowly regress — his 12 interceptions were the most he’s thrown since the 2011 season — and he’ll continue to be a walking duck in the pocket, as the slightest bit of pressure will cause him to give up on a play.

Even with slightly declining play, the Buccaneers will still be a playoff contender — and might even play their way into another Super Bowl if the defense continues to be a top unit.

However, it won’t get any sweeter than this. It would be even better than if Michael Jordan had just remained retired after hitting the game-winning shot over Bryon Russell to win the 1998 NBA Finals.

Beating Brees, Rodgers, Mahomes and Belichick all in his first season away from the New England? Not only is he beating them, he’s taking a little bit of each of their legacies — all at the age of 43.

Brady won’t retire after this season, but he should — because it would go down as the greatest send-off of any athlete in pro sports history.

By senior