(Reuters) – Tom Brady’s insatiable work ethic has allowed him to overcome nearly every obstacle thrown his way but now the NFL’s greatest quarterback faces what could prove to be his toughest test yet.
When Brady takes the field in the New England Patriots’ 2017 season opener on Thursday he will be one month beyond his 40th birthday, which is well past the age when quarterbacks tend to be much less efficient.
But Brady, who engineered a record-setting Super Bowl comeback to win his fifth championship in February, is coming off one of the best campaigns of his career and has not shown any evidence that this season will not be just as special.
In fact, the future Hall of Famer, who is set to become just the 20th quarterback to play in an NFL game after turning 40, is feeling so good that he has no imminent plans to retire.
“You know, I just love doing it. I’ve never thought about not playing,” said Brady. “At least until my mid-40s, I said, so that’s a pretty good goal in and of itself and then we’ll see when I get there. But it’s been so fun. Football has been such a rewarding part of my life.”
Brady, who said some of his backups presented him with a birthday cake that had “old” on it rather than his age, did admit that getting his body ready for every season has changed a lot.
“The routine changes because your body changes and you have got to be smart as you get older. I’ve been working hard at it for a long time. I’ve got a great regimen and it’s a process for me,” he said, without going into specific details.
”The best part about it is I enjoy what I‘m doing so it never really feels like I‘m working at it because I really love doing it.
“I love practicing, I love preparing, I love training and certainly I love playing. So it’s just a – I‘m at a good point. Hopefully [I can] just keep it going.”
Brady did say he has kept in touch with Brett Favre, who as a 40-year-old in 2009 had arguably the best season of his Hall of Famer career when he threw 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions and led Minnesota to the NFC Conference Championship game.
“He’s been someone that I’ve always talked to, so I really enjoy it. I just loved his style. I admired him for so long,” said Brady.
“We talked about certain things, but yeah, I mean, he was incredible playing as an older quarterback, and he still had a great love for the game. He was a phenomenal player. I always looked up to him.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Both