Can Tom Brady really play another 10 years?

While it is highly unlikely that he could play for another 10 years, it's not ridiculous to expect Tom Brady to hang around for another handful of seasons.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

By Mike Batista

Another decade of Tom Brady? The rest of the AFC East would just love that.

According to NJ.com, the Patriots quarterback wants to play another 10 years in the NFL.

It’s easy to laugh off such a bold claim, but opponents learned a long time ago not to underestimate Brady. So it’s worth wondering if Brady really can play for 10 more years.

Through five games, Brady is having a season comparable to his monster 2007 campaign. He’s thrown 14 touchdown passes and one interception and completed more than 70 percent of his passes, something only four quarterbacks have done in a full season. Brady’s thrown for 1,699 yards, which puts him on pace to surpass his career-high 5,235 passing yards in 2011.

Brady doesn’t seem to be slowing down, even at 38. However, Peyton Manning didn’t seem to be slowing down at 38 last season. He had 22 touchdown passes and three interceptions through seven games. Now, a year later, Manning has thrown seven touchdown passes and a league-high 10 interceptions. It’s difficult to see Manning playing another season.

It’s possible that four neck surgeries is starting to take a toll on Manning’s body. Brett Favre could have been the guy on the Operation game board. He suffered through various shoulder, neck, elbow, back, foot and head injuries while starting 297 straight games. He played until he was 41.

If Favre can make it past 40, Brady can. If Brady really wants to play another 10 years, we should pretty much expect him to be playing past his 40th birthday. Maybe even five more years might be realistic. But it’s difficult to see anyone playing in the NFL at 48.

Brady’s already been sacked 13 times this season. That puts him on pace to be sacked more than 40 times for the first time since 2001. He was sacked 40 times in 2013 and 21 times last season. Brady has enjoyed decent pass protection in his career mostly because he gets rid of the ball quickly. If he’s put in a position where he has to avoid a pass rush, it will be more difficult the older he gets. The sacks could keep piling up and the toll on his body could accelerate.

Age can sneak up on an athlete, or it can blindside him. So far it doesn’t seem to be sneaking up on Brady. If he plays 10 more years, he would outlast two terms of a possible Donald Trump presidency that he seemed to endorse but later said he didn’t endorse.

No matter who’s elected president in 2016, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Brady’s career last until the end of that term. That would be five years.

But 10 more years? Probably not. Father Time is an opponent that not even Brady can defeat.

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