On Sunday, Tom Brady began his 21st regular season in the National Football League. Remarkably, unlike so many others, Brady has not fallen off. Instead, he continues to prove his greatness year in and year out even through his 40s.
At 40, Brady threw for 4577 yards, with 32 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. At 41, Brady threw for 4355 yards, with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. At 42, he threw for 4057 yards, with 24 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
Although he does show some signs of regression, he is still performing exceptionally well for a quarterback his age. Heading into his 21st season, he will try to further defy father time.
Before Tom Brady, there was George Blanda. In 1970, he played in 14 games (zero starts), completing 29 out of 55 passes for 461 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. Although his completion percentage of 52.7 is not very good, his last pass attempt in the league did not come until age 48.
Playing one game as a backup for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1999, Moon threw only three passes and completed one for 20 yards. In his last season at age 44, he appeared in two games for the chiefs, starting one, completing 15 out of 34 passes.
In 2005, Flutie appeared in five games, completing 5 out of 10 passes for 29 yards. That would be his last season in the NFL.
In 2006, Testaverde played in three games, completing two out of his mere three pass attempts for 29 yards. He went on to play one more season.
Playing for the Carolina Panthers in 2007, he received more playing time. He started six games and made an appearance in seven. However, he was not very good as he was only 94 for 172 passing the ball, which comes out to be a horrific 54.7 completion percentage. He also had a terrible touchdown-interception ratio: 5:6. The Panthers were only 2-4 in the games he started.
That is the entire list. Only four quarterbacks have gone this far in their careers. That’s it.
If Tom Brady came even just somewhat close to any of these players’ stats this season, it would be shocking. Brady only needs to throw 462 yards to hold the record for passing yards at age 43. He also only needs to throw 7 TD’s to break the touchdown record at that age. He should be able to surpass these marks with ease as long as he stays healthy.
Looking Ahead to Age 44
There are only two quarterbacks in NFL history that have even thrown at least 50 passes at age 44. One of those players is George Blanda. In 1971, still playing for the Raiders, he put up stats similar to his 43-year-old campaign. In 14 games (zero starts), he went 32 for 58 passing the ball, a 55.2 completion percentage, which is 2.5 percentage points better than his age 43 season at quarterback. That season, he threw for 378 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions.
The other quarterback is Steve DeBerg. After taking a five-year absence from the league, he decided to return in 1998 to play eight games, starting one, for the Atlanta Falcons. That season, he completed 50.8 percent of his passes, going 30 for 59. In total for the season, he threw for 369 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He lost his only start.
If Tom Brady continues after 2020 to play in 2021, he will most likely break the passing yards record of 378 and the touchdowns record of four while still maintaining his status as one of the best quarterbacks.
Brady has shown almost no signs of slowing down. As long as Brady can remain healthy, he will, in all likelihood, continue to break records.