Let’s get this out of the way first: Based on everything we know about the guy, Tom Brady is a healthier physical specimen than me, than you, than just about everyone you know.
His famous diet – while grounded in what seems to be utter quackery – is undeniably healthy, what with its emphasis on vegetables and whole grains and its avoidance of bad-for-you things like sugar, white flour and anything processed.
And then there’s his workout regimen, which Brady says is tailored to keep him playing in the NFL until his mid-40s (he’ll turn 40 in August). It emphasizes flexibility and pliability instead of sheer strength, and Brady thinks other players should emulate his ways to lengthen their careers.
“I want to be able to show them a different way, the way I learned. I can be an ambassador to play this great sport of football, a contact sport, but also how to take care of yourself so you don’t feel like you’re 60 years old when you’re in your mid-thirties,” Brady told MMQB’s Peter King in the second part of their post-Super Bowl interview, which was published Wednesday.
“It’s about making the right choices. It’s not more effort. Everyone puts in effort. Everyone wants to do the right thing, they just don’t know what it is. I want to be the person that proves to other people: this is the right thing. Just do it. And you’ll see all the benefits that I’ve seen. This is going to be the norm in 10 years. I actually think it’s going to make for a more competitive game, when you have so many players that are so healthy for long periods of times. I think the caliber of talent is going to be so much better.”
As Brady’s workout guru Alex Guerrero told Sports Illustrated in 2014: “The whole idea is to program his body to do what we want it to do. We don’t let the body dictate to us. We dictate.”
But here’s the thing: Brady has been blessed with self-created good health, yes, but he’s also barely been injured during his NFL career thanks to a combination of a Patriots offense that gets the ball out of his hands quickly and a reliably strong offensive line. It’s been easy for him to “dictate” things to his body. I wonder if Cam Newton feels the same way?
Since entering the NFL in 2000, Brady has had just three seasons in which he didn’t start at least 14 games. His first, when he was Drew Bledsoe’s backup and attempted all of three passes. In 2008, when his season was ended after just one quarter on a low hit from the Chiefs’ Bernard Pollard in the opener. And this past season, when he served his four-game Deflategate suspension. Otherwise, he’s stayed upright.
Let’s get some numbers involved. Using 2009 as a jumping-off point because Brady has been healthy since then, here is the list of the NFL’s most-sacked quarterbacks.
1. Aaron Rodgers 298
2. Philip Rivers 284
3. Alex Smith 272
4. Ben Roethlisberger 264
5. Joe Flacco 258
6. Jay Cutler 251
7. Matthew Stafford 242
8. Matt Ryan 238
9. Cam Newton 221
10. Drew Brees 219
11. Tom Brady 214
12. Ryan Tannehill 213
Any way you slice it, Brady has been figuratively bubble-wrapped by the Patriots over the second half of his career. Newton has been sacked seven more times than Brady even though he’s started 32 fewer games and thrown 1,643 fewer passes than Brady. Tannehill has started 47 fewer games and thrown 1,934 fewer passes, yet trails Brady in the sack department by just one. The only NFL quarterback of recent vintage who has gone down less than Brady with a comparable number of starts and attempts since 2009 is the Giants’ Eli Manning, who has been sacked six fewer times in 128 starts and 4,541 attempts (Brady has 124 starts and 4,571 attempts since 2009).
So before everyone in the NFL goes out and buys the Tom Brady cookbook (sorry, “living document”) and starts the Tom Brady workout regimen and mixes the Tom Brady-branded electrolytes into their drinks – as he seemingly would like everyone else to do – keep in mind that the Tom Brady offensive line and the Tom Brady get-rid-of-the-ball offense have as much, if not more, to do with his well-being than any sort of lifestyle choice. And those things are much harder to come by.