The Old Goat

On Sunday, September 18, the New Orleans Saints will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their home opener. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay’s quarterback, is 45 years old, which is like 85 in athlete years. On the outside, no one can deny, the old goat still looks great, but his annual physical now includes a prostate exam.

Drew Brees and Brady were the two oldest quarterbacks in the league, before Drew retired in 2021 and Brady retired in 2022. Brady’s retirement lasted for 40 days, which means he abstained from professional football about as long as I abstained from drinking during Lent. (Well, in fairness, he managed to go 39 days longer than I did.)

I bet the guy who paid half a million  dollars for Tom Brady’s “last” touchdown ball was mad. Though, considering he could afford a half-million-dollar football, we don’t need to lose too much sleep over it.

With Drew Brees gone, backup quarterback Andy Dalton is the oldest player on the Saints team — and he’s not even 35. Defensive players Cameron Jordan and Demario Davis are just 33. Compared to Brady, Jordan and Davis are still whippersnappers — whippersnappers who could make Brady the most sacked quarterback of all time on Sunday — instead of the second-most, just behind Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brady has been in the NFL about as long as C.J. Gardner-Johnson, a Saints safety, has been alive. This is Brady’s 23rd season, which is pretty amazing. You should check out some of his early games. Of course, to do so you’ll need one of those black-and-white reel projectors.

Before starting this season, Brady missed 11 days of practice, and the press speculated he was performing on The Masked Singer. We later discovered, however, that he was in The Bahamas with Gisele. But, as we’ve learned this year, you can’t always take Tom Brady at his word. Unretirement, anyone?

We spoke to team officials about Brady’s upcoming presence at Caesar’s Superdome on Sunday, and were told the Saints sideline team will gear up a gallon of Ensure next to the Gatorade just for him. Anything else he needs… well, that Depends.

By now, reader, you might feel bad about our ribbing of Tom Brady. And he does deserve our respect: It’s true, when he was young, he walked three miles to and from football practice, uphill both ways. When he first started playing, shotgun formations were called musket formations.

And we know it’s going to sting when the Saints win on Sunday. But isn’t pain an inevitable part of getting older? Ask Brett Favre. He was over 40 on January 24, 2010 when, as quarterback for the Vikings, he threw the single greatest interception in NFL history. You might remember the game: the NFC championships. His opponent: The New Orleans Saints. The interception sent the game into overtime; the Saints’ Garrett Hartley soon sent the football between the uprights from the 40-yard line; and Old Man Favre had thus sent the Saints to the Super Bowl.