We classy folks here at GGN would like to take the time out of our busy days of posting animal memes and watching Seinfeld reruns to wish a very happy birthday to our dear friend and quarterback of the rival New England Patriots, Tom Brady. From the annual unofficial holiday declaration:
This is a toast to Tom's birthday and is in no way at all a celebration of the year in which almost all quarterbacks markedly decline and fall out of the league within a couple of seasons. This is a classy tribute to a great player and should not be construed in any way as reveling in the inevitable and impending end of the Patriots dynasty.
For Tom's birthday here is a gift for all of us: Brady gifs!
37 is football ancient, even for a position with limited contact compared to most other positions in the game. Very few players have remained a viable starter after this age. Have a look at players who stayed in the league after 38.
George Blanda was the longest lasting individual player who played QB at nearly 48, but he spent nearly his entire career as both a kicker and backup. Blanda relieved his teammates capably for the desperate Raiders several times, but 17 of his 26 seasons had minimal to no presence on the offense, thus explaining his longevity in the league.
Steve DeBerg, Warren Moon, and Vinny Testaverde lasted until the ripe old age of 44. DeBergs' last full time starting gig was at 39, which is around the same age Moon was last able to last a full season as a starting QB. Testaverde stopped playing as a starter full-time around 38 when the Jets brought Chad Pennington on board, although he did have a resurgence as the Dallas Cowboys QB for one season before finishing his career as a Jets and Carolina Panthers backup. Doug Flutie finished his starting career at the same age, playing a backup role until he retired at 43. Earl Morrall lasted until 42, but spent most of his career as a backup as well.
Mark Brunell played until 41, but you know the story there. Brunell wasn't a viable starter after the age of 35.
Brett Favre is an outlier, he played as a starter until he retired at the age of 41, and even then many of us weren't sure if he was quite done. It's worth noting that a few other quarterbacks, namely John Elway and Kurt Warner, have had resurgences or super bowl runs late in their careers after the age of 37. Peyton Manning also serves as a cautionary tale to jerks like me who prematurely celebrate the end of quarterbacks careers. This write up from USC details the decline of QBs after said age but also prematurely surmises that Manning was done as a starter. Shunned by his team the Indianapolis Colts, who drafted capable young starter Andrew Luck, Manning went on to have record setting production with the Denver Broncos, and is still going. Other than that, little to no players last as starters after 37.
Every quarterback the age of 40 or older when they retired besides Brett Favre was either usurped as the full time starter in their 30's, or a backup player for most of their careers.
Football perspectives studies the age curves of NFL quarterbacks, more ominous analysis for the aging Brady. PFF has analysis and two graphs detailing PPG of QBs overall as they age and by classes of quarterbacks sorted by decades.
Now, Tom Brady is a rare, if frequently aggravating talent. If you are a fan of Brady, the Pats, or the University of Michigan, just be satisfied that you have a once-in-a-lifetime talent that warrants such a sardonic birthday wish from a rival fan. Enjoy your dynasty sports and constantly winning, sit down and shut up. Let me have this. For those same reasons, you have to prepare yourself for the possibility that Brady could still inflict punishment on the Jets for years to come, well into his 40's. Brady strikes me as the stubborn sort who will not go gently into the night.
But there's one thing that Brady has working against him. The average age of the starting quarterback is in the mid-20's, and the window of effectiveness for quarterbacks is typically between the ages of 25-37. Brady will almost definitely be an outlier, but the clock is ticking. It is rare to nonexistent in recent years for the NFL passing leaders or Super Bowl winning quarterback to be as old as Brady, the average age for those accomplishments is in the late 20's. However this will impact the future is up for you to determine, I'm just laying it all out there and wishing Tom Brady a happy birthday. But I say the following every year;
The end is nigh. Smell the future, GGN'ers. Things will change over the course of the next few years that will surpass your wildest expectations about this division, just watch. The Patriots will soon be crushed under the weight of the division as their QB and coach dynasty tandem ride off into the moonlight to a retirement home in Florida.
Happy Birthday to you, Tom Brady. And many, many more.