Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians hoped to have a grand entrance for Tom Brady on his 44th birthday in lieu of a day off from practice.
“We couldn’t get anyone in the building to surprise him coming out of the cake,” Arians jokingly said on Tuesday per Greg Auman of The Athletic. “COVID screwed that one up.”
Brady got the day off from practice for his birthday instead as Arians offered on Monday. It didn’t stop Brady from showing up anyway but without a helmet. He chatted with 82-year-old-assistant coach Tom Moore instead per ABC Action News’ Kyle Burger.
A hyper-competitive 22nd-year NFL veteran, Brady doesn’t miss an opportunity to improve. Arians, who knows that all too well, praised Brady’s intensity, leadership, and longevity before announcing the real birthday plans.
“It’s amazing the fire that burns in him that makes him do this,” Arians said of Brady. “There’s nobody out there competing any harder than him. Yeah, it’s awesome.”
Brady’s 44th birthday falls 21 years and four days after his NFL debut in the 2000 Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The sixth-round pick from Michigan entered the game in the fourth quarter for the New England Patriots with the team comfortably ahead of Brady’s boyhood team — the San Francisco 49ers.
His boyhood hero, Joe Montana, was on the sideline for the 49ers in that game, too, per ESPN. Montana and fellow 49ers greats Ronnie Lott and Dave Wilcox joined the Hall of Fame that weekend.
Brady’s NFL career launched quietly that day in the location he’ll one day return to among the many NFL greats.
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Brady Furious at Bucs Offense
Brady’s intensity showed all the more on Sunday when he “punted the ball in frustration” after getting sacked during an 11-on-11 drill per Pewter Report.
The day didn’t get any better for Brady when got sacked and threw incompletions during a two-minute drill per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Brady slammed his helmet afterward.
“Gott make a (expletive) play when you’re tired fellas,” Brady said.
“Yeah, guys (have) got to make plays, man,” Arians on Sunday per Stroud. “They’re in a critical situation, you can’t fall down. He gives you a chance to win the game, you’ve got to go win the game. I don’t care how tired you are.”
Brady had a better day at practice on Monday, getting the ball to receivers all over the place. That included a deep ball to Mike Evans, a touchdown to rookie Jaelon Darden, and a big pass to Antonio Brown per Stroud.
Arians liked it better, too, but sees a need for work in other areas.
“I think we got some matchups that were pretty good in our favor a couple of times,” Arians said on Monday. “But those young guys have been squatting a little bit in the secondary, so they got run by today. But the veteran guys I don’t think gave up much other than maybe one. Sometimes our ones end up against their threes, just the way we’re rotating. So, I don’t put too much stock into it unless it’s ones against ones.”
More Rare Air for Brady
Few quarterbacks make it to their 40s in the NFL and even fewer play as late into the 40s as Brady has.
Stroud noted that Warren Moon played at age 44 for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2000. Moon started one game that season and went 12-31 passing for 130 yards and an interception in a 17-16 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
Former Bucs quarterback Steve DeBerg also started once at age 44 for the Atlanta Falcons in 1998 per Athlon Sports’ Aaron Tallent. Fellow former Bucs Vinny Testaverde made six starts for Carolina in 2007.
The late George Blanda still takes the cake though from when he played in his final game at age 48 in the 1976 AFC championship per Tallent. Blanda, who played quarterback much of his career, only kicked in that game though.