When it comes to Tom Brady and his vast many accomplishments, the amazing is hardly happenstance.
Still, it’s rather astonishing that Brady, at 43-year-old, is two years older than his offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, 41, and still playing at the otherworldly level he played at in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ run to a Super Bowl LV championship.
Brady, who won his fifth Super Bowl Most Valuable Player and set a franchise record with 40 touchdowns, dazzled even Leftwich. He admitted even he could not fathom the excellence exhibited by TB12 this past season on the latest episode of the Huddle & Flow Podcast with the NFL Network’s Jim Trotter and Steve Wyche.
“Hell no. You just didn’t think it was possible, right?” Leftwich answered when asked if he thought it was possible for Brady to succeed as he did. “Like, you watched the tape of him and I knew his arm was still live, you know, you could tell me he still got a live arm. So you knew his arm was live. But then you get around it and you’re like, look at that ball. It’s the type of ball that he throws, it’s a friendly ball. It’s a penetrating ball. So it was unique to see him to be able to do all these things, still. Hell, I just turned 41 and I tried … and to see him, I’m like, man, just the see how he’s able to still do things the young guys could do.”
Brady’s set for a “clean up” on his knee, but didn’t miss a game during the Buccaneers’ 20-game season. His arm was as lively as ever and it culminated with a three-touchdown evening on Super Bowl Sunday. But along with Brady’s physical prowess, his work ethic and commitment to the game is a prevailing factor, per Leftwich’s view.
“He started this process 20 years ago, you know, 18, 17 years ago. And it’s a testament of hard work, of having an understanding, of having an end goal in mind. And you see all the sacrifices he had to make along the way to be able to play this long,” Leftwich said. “So, I mean, it’s amazing to see him do it, but it’s amazing to see the commitment that it takes to make sure you are capable of playing this long.”
Brady’s now been to 10 Super Bowls and won seven — more than any franchise, much less another player.
Leftwich credits Brady’s drive and ability to stay on task all these years and each and every day as the driving force behind the seven-time Super Bowl champion maintaining his game.
“So to be around those type of guys, it’s unique with the guys [who] can get in that mental space and get things done and anything he’s committed to, he fully commits to it,” Leftwich said. “And it’s unique to see on the day-in, day-out basis.”
Leftwich, who went 0-2 versus Brady in his playing career, played nine seasons in the NFL with four teams after being first-round selection by the Jaguars in 2003. His playing days actually began three years after Brady was taken in the sixth round by the Patriots. Leftwich now has three seasons of experience as an offensive coordinator, as well.
Now, having gone through a championship season, he’s all the more impressed by what Brady’s done and confident nobody else will ever do it — though he’s hoping some young gunslinger will.
“Man, it’s so hard to get this thing accomplished. There’s so many obstacles that come along the way. So many people were involved in it. So it’s, it’s a tough thing to accomplish, man. And when you accomplish it, it’s a great feeling. And obviously he’s done it seven times. He’s had the opportunity to do it 10 times. That’s just crazy,” Leftwich said. “That’s something that I don’t think we’ll ever see. You know, I just don’t know if we’ll see that just the way that football is now. I don’t know if guys will be in the same place 20 years anymore, you know, be able to play being a 21st year playing at a high level. I hope so, because I love the position. I love the play of the position. We all like to see good quarterback play. So I hope there’s guys that’s seeing this and it will be guys watching Tom Brady right now going to come behind him and try their best to get 11. But that’s what’s great about our sport. That’s what’s great about competition. You know, watch one guy’s success motivate the next group of younger guys and hopefully we’ll see that.”