However, the matchup feels more than a huge game with novelties tied to it. It could also prove to be the keystone of a fading era in a sport. As athletes develop, the desire to play for as long as possible decreases. Some fall victim to overtraining. Some have an athleticism that seems too freaky for their bodies. Others are making too much money too quickly to stay motivated. With quarterback, due to mobility and a willingness to score more hits, the young elite stars are less likely to reach into their 30s. The emerging generation will push their sport forward, but they will destroy norms and create new standards.

Appreciate the gray sizes and be amazed at their longevity for as long as possible. Many expect Brees to retire from the New Orleans Saints by the end of the season. Brady is 18 months older, but after throwing 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he wants to keep playing.

But the ending chases him, as does LeBron James and Alex Ovechkin, as well as Serena Williams and Roger Federer. These are just a few of the many unforgettable legends that became known at least 15 years ago and continue to amaze us. Your generation has slowly retired; The rest will step down within the next five years.

It’s an interesting time to fade away – an inspiring time, a nostalgic time, a sad time – and the pandemic has made those possible final bursts of excellence even more bittersweet.

Without the corona virus, more than 70,000 fans would be in the Superdome for this showdown before retirement. However, only 3,500 people are allowed to participate. Brees was able to play his last game in New Orleans – where his pinpoint throws usually cause deafening delirium – relatively isolated. Whatever happens, the response will be more of a hum than a roar. Although the sports world has been so subdued for more than six months, the spooky experience has not become any more bearable.

Even so, Brady and Brees persist. Aside from gaining and collecting monstrous stats, this is what they do best. Together they have thrown 159,562 yards and 1,152 touchdowns in their career. They are the only quarterbacks to have exceeded 72,000 yards and 540 touchdowns. Brady has six championships and a 0.769 percent gain in 21 seasons. Brees has a Super Bowl triumph and a 0.601 percent gain in 20 seasons.

But they’re not here, on the other side of 40, simply because they’re too gifted to fail. We often miss an important part of the aging superstar’s greatness by refusing to acknowledge that even if he defies fatherhood, there is a price to be paid. There are fights. Their tired bodies are asking them to change.

Take away shouldn’t be whitewashed if you’re wondering about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who plays until 42. How he did it without falling off a statistical cliff to the end. He mastered the sky hook and extended his range. He gave up top dog status to Magic Johnson and embraced being a complementary star. The game will win because the body can only hammer so much, but at best the mind will compensate for it.

At 36, James is a better all-around basketball player than at 26. He no longer jumps over people all the time. He has developed a functional three-point shot and learned to deal with its massive frame. He has made it his business to act more as a real point guard. These are his versions of the Michael Jordan fadeaway or the clever placement – not just the force – of Williams ‘serve or Brees’ transformation into a methodical quarterback who is more selective about when to aggressively throw down.

Over the past four seasons, Brees has changed his approach: more game management, less gunslinging, less interceptions. Brees once had 12 consecutive seasons in which he threw at least 11 picks. But it has been in the single digits every year since 2017. His passerby rating during this time is 110.3. He no longer carries the offense, but he makes the playmakers happy. In the red zone, he and coach Sean Payton are still doing special things.

The struggles of aging are inevitable. They enforce restrictions. And then the big ones show you how great they are. Brady’s first season with a new team is the perfect example. There were shaky moments, but overall he was fantastic. His increasing comfort with the passing of coach Bruce Arians is clear. He gets rid of the ball faster. He throws and completes deep passes that he was reluctant to attempt in the first half of the season. He’s put up some ridiculous numbers against terrible teams towards the end of the regular season to improve his stats, but it seems the Bucs are at the right rate of improvement.

Before the season started, I thought it was most realistic to expect the Bucs to only make the playoffs this year. You did that and moved up one lap. I always thought that the next season would be the real championship or bankruptcy year. You could be a little ahead. We will see. The Saints have beaten them twice this season.

Brady and Brees, rivals for perhaps the last time on Sunday, exchanged text messages early last week. Surely there is an old man’s joke there, but since I’m her age I will pass it on.

“That’s 85 years and a lot of football experience that will be on the field on Sunday,” said Brees.

Since signing with Tampa Bay, Brady has considered a high-stakes meeting “inevitable”.

“I envisioned this game because I knew our aspirations as a team to be in the playoffs and beyond,” said Brees. “And I definitely knew what he brought to the Bucs and this talented squad. I think this is where we probably all imagined we were at that point in the season. “

Brady and his social media team enjoyed this matchup. They had fun all season, but their History Channel tweet of weirdly aged photos of the quarterbacks was perhaps their best.

Brady and Brees are excited about building this showdown. It shows you that they can see the exit sign too.

“He’s a lot younger than me,” joked Brady. “I mean, he’s 18 months younger. Eighteen months ago, I was feeling pretty good. So I have a little advanced age and experience with him. But I’ll stay tuned. “

Don’t let self-irony fool you. Neither Brady nor Brees are ready for a rocking chair. You are not here to remember, not when there is more history to be made.


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