Tom Brady intends to keep playing in the NFL for several years to come as he prepares for his 10th career Super Bowl appearance this weekend.
Brady, 43, will be seeking his seventh Super Bowl ring and the first with a team other than the New England Patriots when his Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday evening.
Brady had previously said he wanted to keep playing to the age of 45, but asked if he might go even beyond that on Monday, he said: “Yeah, definitely”.
After two decades of success with the Patriots, Brady left New England last winter for Tampa Bay.
He joined a team that had just finished 7-9 to miss out on the post-season, and many pundits predicted Brady would struggle away from long-time coach Bill Belichick.
Instead, Brady threw 40 touchdowns in the regular season and a further seven in the play-offs to guide the Bucs to only the second Super Bowl appearance in their history, after victory back in 2003.
It is the sort of season which has Brady wanting more.
“There’s nothing you can achieve in football without the support of the entire team,” he said.
“I love having team-mates, I love sharing those experiences and I love seeing those guys reach their potential.
“For an older athlete like myself, so much of the enjoyment comes from me helping others too so that’s probably why I’m still doing it.
“It’s not about me Tom Brady, it’s about us, the Bucs and what we can accomplish. We’ve just got to go and finish the deal.
“It’s been a great year. I’ve learned a lot about myself, I’ve learned a lot about my team-mates but we’ve got a chance now to go and accomplish the ultimate goal. We’re four quarters away.”
Brady – who already holds Super Bowl records for career passing yards (2,838) and career touchdowns (18) among several other accolades – said his body and mind will determine when the end comes.
“I think I’ll know when it’s time but I don’t know when that time will come,” Brady said. “I think I will know and I’ll understand I gave everything I could to this game.
“I don’t think I could ever go into this game half-assed. I’ve got to put everything into it. I put it all out there. When I don’t think I can do that anymore, I don’t feel like I can commit to the team in the way the team needs me, that will probably be the time to walk away.”
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, 18 years and 45 days younger than his opposite number, grew up watching Brady play, and he continues to look up to a player he calls “the Goat” even as he seeks a third win over him in what will be their fifth meeting.
“If you’re a young athlete and you don’t look up to guys like Tom Brady, you’re crazy,” Mahomes said.
“The success he’s had year in, year out, how he’s continued to make himself better and not be satisfied. It’s the type of greatness you strive towards.”
Mahomes was named NFL MVP in 2018 but his season was ended by Brady as the Chiefs lost the AFC Championship game to the Patriots.
Brady made a point of visiting Mahomes in the locker room after the game, a moment Mahomes said gave him “affirmation” that he was on the right path early in his career.
Victory for the Chiefs on Sunday would see Mahomes become the youngest quarterback to win multiple titles, and put him alongside Brady as the only quarterbacks to lead teams to glory in two of their first four seasons.
Mahomes is not interested in discussing whether he could ever match Brady’s six titles, saying he could not look beyond Sunday’s game, but he hopes to share the key qualities necessary to get there.
“I think the biggest thing is competitive drive,” he said. “He’s the same as I am, he’s going to leave everything on the field every single time he’s out there to win.
“He doesn’t care if he has to throw for 400 yards or 100 yards, he just wants to win. I have the same mentality. I just want to win no matter how it happens.”