FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Welcome to what has become a New England sports holiday of sorts.
Happy birthday, Tom Brady.
If recent history is any indication, the crowd at Patriots training camp will be tuning up its collective voice for the first Brady birthday song shortly after 9:30 a.m. ET, which is when players should begin arriving for the start of the 9:45 a.m. practice. There also should be no shortage of birthday signs in the crowd, as the vibe has been festive every Aug. 3 for years.
This is birthday 39 for Brady, which serves as a reminder of time passing and that he is the oldest non-kicker or punter currently on an NFL roster (via ESPN’s Stats & Info).
K Adam Vinatieri (Colts) — 43
K Matt Bryant (Falcons) — 41
K Phil Dawson (49ers) — 41
P Shane Lechler (Texans) — 39
QB Tom Brady (Patriots) — 39
K Sebastian Janikowski (Raiders) — 38
Brady, in a surprise appearance Monday at the Patriots Hall of Fame induction of former teammate Kevin Faulk, joked about his age when he said, “It’s such a special night, but what’s not very special is when the guys that are going into the Hall of Fame are your age.”
Brady has spoken in the past about how he’s used to spending parts of his birthday on the practice field, as it falls during the opening stretch of training camp.
Every year has featured a bit of a different twist.
In 2009, for example, players took Brady’s birthday to a higher level by surprising him with a pie to his face. Other years have featured more of a sentimental touch, as Brady’s father Tom Sr. has been on hand, with the two sharing an on-field embrace. In 2010, players sang “Happy Birthday” to Brady at the end of a walkthrough practice.
Brady once recalled how the schedule broke right on his 30th birthday with a day off, which allowed his family to throw a surprise party/barbeque on his roof deck. The team also had a day off on Brady’s birthday last year, but fans didn’t let it pass and sang to him the next day.
Brady’s 39th also provides a springboard to consider how much longer he can continue playing at his current level, which remains extremely high.
George Blanda remains the oldest player to ever suit up for a game, at 48 years old, when he was with the 1975 Oakland Raiders. Of modern-day quarterbacks, Steve DeBerg, Warren Moon and Vinny Testaverde were all still in the league on their 44th birthday.
Could Brady, who by most accounts looks as sharp as ever on the practice field, surpass them and reach his goal of playing well into his 40s?
Now entering its 39th chapter, Brady’s football fight against Father Time continues.