BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — One day after Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about retirement plans, so was his 40-year-old quarterback. Unlike Belichick, who dismissed the question, Tom Brady answered it directly.
“Why does everyone want me to retire so bad?” a smiling Brady said Wednesday. “I don’t get it. I’m having fun. The team’s doing good. I know I’m a little bit older than most of the guys, but I’m really enjoying it.”
It seems Patriots ownership wants Brady, a five-time Super Bowl champion, to continue playing for as long as possible.
“I think Tom Brady earned the right to have that be a decision he makes when he wants to make it,” Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, the son of owner Robert Kraft, told NFL Network.
Brady has discussed in his book and in documentaries a lifestyle in which he has a special diet, drinks plenty of water and conditions himself as if he’s going to play a long time. Brady said he would like to play into his mid-40s.
“Obviously, I enjoy the experience of playing in this game,” Brady said. “This has been a dream come true many times over. It takes a lot of hard work to get here, and I think our team is working hard. We had a good practice today. We need a couple more good ones, and we’re playing against a great football team. So I’m not thinking about retirement. I’m thinking about the Super Bowl and trying to win the most important game of the year. It’s going to take a lot to do it.”
Brady is the favorite to win his third NFL MVP award. He led the league in passing yards (4,577), was third in touchdown passes (32) and quarterback rating (102.8) and second in completions (385).
His only real issue this season was suffering a nasty cut on his right thumb in practice four days before the AFC Championship Game. Brady had no problems against the Jaguars and had 12 stitches removed last week. But Brady continues to be mysterious about the hand. He started Wednesday’s news conference with his right hand in his pocket, taking it out only when describing being bitten by a dog as a kid.
Brady is wearing a special glove he says will help the healing process. There appear to be few concerns about the thumb, though he says it’s not 100 percent. If anything, Brady gives off the impression he has no worries outside of playing the Eagles.
He seemed amused with reporters when discussing retirement.
“I always wanted to play into my mid-40’s, so we will see,” he said. “Football is such a physical sport and every game could be your last game. It’s the reality of the sport. I love to plan for those things. I try to work hard at the things I need to for my body to feel good week after week and year after year.
“I’ve got a good routine that has really worked for me, especially the last 10 to 12 years. As long as I feel like I’m willing to make the commitment to do those things, then I feel like my body will allow me to do that. So that’s what my goals are.”
The Patriots don’t have a backup quarterback ready to step in long term after trading Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers in October. Brian Hoyer is the backup, but he’s not considered a long-term answer.
The long-term answer is Brady.
“Our intent is we have the best people in their respective positions,’’ Robert Kraft said, “and we keep them here for a very long time.”