Tom vs. Time: The Ultimate Mismatch
By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports columnist
There are a lot of hot takes to come out of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ run to the NFC Championship Game, but here’s a different one: The title of Tom Brady’s web television series is really bad.
Tom vs. Time? Come on, that’s a total mismatch.
Although Father Time, that sage, old merchant of inevitability, might have eventually triumphed over every National Football League quarterback over the years, here’s the truth: Father Time is losing this battle with Brady, and it has gone way beyond a blowout.
Because Tom Brady keeps doing Tom Brady things — defying the doubters, mystifying the sports scientists, upending conventional logic and, yes, believe it or not, hunting down yet another Super Bowl title after sinking the New Orleans Saints and dispatching Drew Brees into likely retirement.
"Seeing Brady juxtaposed with Brees, seeing what a 40-plus-year-old QB is supposed to look like and seeing Tom Brady still just ticking along, not making any huge mistakes ... it’s half-maddening and half-marvelous," FOX Sports’ Nick Wright said on First Things First. "It’s remarkable that he’s still out there."
Brady isn’t turning back the clock, but he has persuaded it to tick far more slowly for him than it has for anyone else. Talk all you like about the TB12 Method, and start cooking with coconut oil if you must, but what has truly prolonged Brady's efficacy is his brainpower and decision-making.
He is making the debilitative elements of advancing time matter less while capitalizing on the benefits. In NFL terms, he is a veritable antique, but no one else has the advantage of having 21 seasons of direct knowledge to call upon.
Sunday's matchup between the Bucs and Saints wasn’t a classic Brady vs. Brees shootout. Brees threw three picks, and the Saints’ finest moment came from a masterful trick play that called Jameis Winston into action. Through it all, Brady stayed efficient, keeping the ball in his team’s hands and his team moving.
"The offense made plays when we had to," Brady said, acknowledging that Tampa’s defensive excellence was the primary difference-maker.
Brady’s stat line wasn’t spectacular (18-for-33, 199 yards, 2 TDs), but fantasy season is over, and postseason football operates by a different set of numbers. If you want data, you’re covered, for Brady comes with a trove of it.
When he takes on the Green Bay Packers at wintry Lambeau Field next Sunday (3:05 p.m. ET on FOX), it will be his 14th appearance on Championship Sunday in 21 NFL seasons. Needless to say, no one has featured more. Get this: Aside from Brady, among QBs, only Joe Montana has won more than 14 playoff games (16). Brady has won 14 in the divisional round alone.
Despite a big win over the Packers in October, the Bucs will be underdogs again (+4, per FOX Bet), but don’t expect them to care much. They weren’t supposed to win this past weekend either, not after the Saints dismissed them twice in the regular season and had home field in their favor.
"It’s too much," Jason Gay wrote in the Wall Street Journal. "He’s showing off. At his age, Tom Brady should be at home, rump on the couch, hand sunk into nachos, struggling to stay awake for the second half of an NFL playoff game — not playing in one. Instead, Brady is football’s Benjamin Button, aging in reverse, denying himself onion rings and chocolate cake and extending a playing career well past the standard expiration."
Brady’s most memorable postgame moment came when he spotted Brees, who was playing with his children on the Superdome turf. It was just two old-timers, chatting about shared experiences and reflecting on what has come before — with one key difference.
Brees is heading off to a new future. Brady is still very much living in his eternal present.
He wasn’t giving much away in his media conference, and though he has seemed generally cheerier since his move south, Brady is back into New England mode now. His focus was already on next week and the upcoming task, even with the postgame glow still rosy.
How many more next weeks will there be? Who knows? Common logic would suggest … heck, who cares what common logic says? Common logic didn’t predict that anyone could play well at age 43. Common logic wasn’t thinking of 40 touchdowns in the regular season. Common logic said the Saints would win. Common logic believed that Brady needed the Patriots more than they needed him.
But no. Brady is still here, still going, still winning.
Poor, old Father Time. He’s taking one heck of a beating.