At an age when Joe Montana and Peyton Manning had retired from football, Tom Brady is bolstering his already overwhelming case as the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
The Associated Press chose the New England Patriots star as the 2017 Most Valuable Player, announcing the award during Saturday night’s NFL Honors ceremony. At 40 years and 184 days, Brady is the oldest player to win the MVP, an award that goes back to 1957. Brady’s resume now boasts one Comeback Player of the Year, three regular-season MVPs, four Super Bowl MVPs and five Lombardi Trophies — with an opportunity for a sixth on Sunday.
Although injuries to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown worked in Brady’s favor, a December slump allowed Rams tailback Todd Gurley to make it a tight race with a brilliant stretch run. Brady received 40 of 50 votes, with Gurley and Wentz tallying eight and two votes, respectively.
Brady navigated through injuries to his offensive line, backfield and receiving corps, leading one of his least talented Patriots teams to a 13-3 record and the 15th AFC East title of the Bill Belichick-era dynasty. Along the way, the 13-time Pro Bowler led the NFL in passing yards (4,577) while finishing third in adjusted yards per attempt (8.36), passing touchdowns (32) and passer rating (102.8). Even better, his 10 touchdowns and 98.0 rating under pressure were the highest marks in the league.
Of all the marvels in Brady’s exceptional career, the most impressive might just be the dominant fashion in which he has reimagined possibilities for aging quarterbacks, increasing his efficiency across the board in completion percentage, yards per attempt, yards per game, touchdown-to-interception ratio and passer rating every year from ages 36 to 39. After incredibly improving his pocket movement in last year’s second-place MVP campaign, he threw downfield more than ever in his age-40 season, boosting the accuracy and effectiveness of his deep ball.
Beyond the numbers, Brady has mastered situational football, spreading the ball around, controlling tempo, attacking the right matchup on the right down and distance and turning the two-minute drill into a science. Two respected sources charting every throw by every quarterback — NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal and Pro Football Focus — rated Brady as the cream of the quarterback crop by a wide margin this season.
Stiff-arming Father Time, Brady has managed to maintain the physical abilities of youth long enough to maximize the wisdom accumulated through years of deciphering defenses. After pulling off an incredible string of epic comebacks in the past four postseasons, the future Hall of Famer will enter Sunday’s showdown with the Eagles as the most confident contestant in Super Bowl history.