At the age of 39, Tom Brady orchestrated the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history to win his fifth championship in 17 seasons. For many quarterbacks, it would have been the perfect time to call it a career - but Brady has repeatedly said he plans to play for as long as he can.
On Tuesday's episode of Undisputed, Nick Wright and NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter debated how long Brady can remain as one of the league's best quarterbacks.
Brady wrote on Instagram that he will "never stop as long as I’m able."
Nick Wright: Tom Brady is having the best stretch of his career
"I think he can be one of the four-best quarterbacks in the league for the next, at least, three years. And one of the seven or eight best quarterbacks in the league for the next five years.
I think we’re really looking at a player that is going to break all the statistical norms. You can make an argument that the greatest three-year stretch of his career are these last three years.
Prior to these last three years it would have been 2010, 2011, 2012. He won an MVP in that stretch, he made a Super Bowl, he had 109 touchdowns, 24 picks in that stretch. His team was 39-9.
These last three years: 97 touchdowns, 18 picks, almost an identical passer rating, the team’s 35-9.
The playoffs were a bit of an outlier in how often he got hit, he [usually] doesn’t get hit very often. He takes care of his body unlike any athlete that I know of in the NFL, and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. So why wouldn’t he have five more excellent years left?"
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Cris Carter: Brady can't escape Father Time
"Father time. Father time is undefeated. Now Brady’s holding him off -- modern-day medicine, technology, all those things. But eventually Father Time is going to win. I believe five years is a little too far.
I believe he has two great years left in him. Now if he decides to play after that … he’s in that realm of players that regardless if they’re past their prime, we don’t mind watching. So I wouldn’t be surprised if he played four years, but I’ll give him two years at playing great.
Sometimes, as an athlete… you realize there’s some things you can’t do that you used to be able to do, but sometimes as an athlete, you wake up in the morning - and I played until I was 37, I played 16 years in the NFL - you wake up and realize ‘you know something? I’m getting ready to start doing something else.’"
Bob DonnanBob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Cris Carter: Bill Belichick's system can extend Brady's career
"Now Tom Brady, he has a number of things on his side. Number one thing is he has an organization that has a championship atmosphere. So he has that cart in front of the horse every time he goes to work.
Also, from an intellectual standpoint, it’s hard to be stimulated in an NFL locker room with young players. As far as what they’re listening to, the things they’re interested in doing on a regular basis. So how does Tom Brady turn his brain on so that he can stay interested?
That’s Bill Belichick. They have one of the most diverse gameplans week-in and week-out. So that keeps Tom on his toes. One week they run the ball 50 times, the next week they have a whole different gameplan, they’re throwing the ball 50 times. So I believe that will help Tom Brady out, but eventually Father Time is undefeated, and I believe he’ll come see Tom Brady at the age of 43."
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Cris Carter: Brady is in a better situation than Peyton Manning was
"If you look at some of the other greats that have recently retired - that being Brett Favre. Not in a great situation, body was banged up, shoulder was banged up.
Peyton Manning. He couldn’t play at the high level any more. Elway had asked him to take a pay cut the year before, so he went out on top winning the Super Bowl with a defensive-dominated team.
I could see Tom doing it because we’ve seen other version of Tom, but they didn’t have the situation, or they didn’t have the health at 40 that Tom has."
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Wright: Tom Brady can be another Warren Moon
"Favre’s body was - as we’ve seen from how he’s aged post-career, he [had] an old man’s body. And Peyton had the massive neck trauma.
The guy that I want to compare him to is your former teammate Warren Moon. Warren Moon, age 39 with you on the team, 4,200 yards, 33 touchdowns. Warren Moon then goes to Seattle at age 41, throws for 3,700 yards. That was 20 years ago.
So if you fast-forward, all the upgrades that we’ve had in medicine. How much smarter athletes are now about what they eat, what they put in their body.
…. If anyone can do it, the special guys - whether it’s Ali coming back to win the title. Jordan. People laugh about Jordan’s years with the Wizards. Jordan’s final year in the league, age 39, you know how many games he missed? None. You know how many minutes a game he played? 37.
To me, Brady’s in that echelon of all-timer. The only thing to me that would stop Tom Brady is if he wants to stop."