MINNEAPOLIS — Not that Tom Brady’s résumé needed to get longer, but he’s now the oldest MVP in NFL history. By three years.
The positive history of 40-year-old quarterbacks was basically one great Brett Favre season with the Minnesota Vikings, but then Brady turned 40. Yet again, Brady rewrote history. He led the NFL with 4,577 passing yards and also had 32 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. Brady got challenged for the award by Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, and we’ll always wonder if Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz would have won if not for an ACL injury. It’s Brady’s third MVP; he also won in 2007 and 2010. The record for oldest MVP winner was shared by Y.A. Tittle in 1963, Rich Gannon in 2002 and Peyton Manning in 2013. They were all 37 years old.
The MVP was historic for more than just Brady’s age. The list of players in NFL history to win more than two MVPs is exclusive and impressive: Peyton Manning, Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, Brett Favre, and now Brady. Manning has five MVPs, and is the only player with more than three. Brady is still playing so well, catching Manning can’t be ruled out. Brady said this week in the lead-up to Super Bowl LII that he wants to play to his mid-40s.
Brady couldn’t be at the awards ceremony because he’s preparing to play in Sunday’s Super Bowl, his record eighth Super Bowl.
“Tom said he’s very honored and humbled he gets this award for MVP,” said Patriots receiver Julian Edelman, who is on injured reserve and accepted the award on his behalf at the “NFL Honors” show. “Also, he wanted to thank his teammates, his friends, family and the Patriots organization.”
It’s somewhat surprising Brady has won just three MVPs. He has consistently played near an MVP level for more than a decade. He has received NFL MVP votes each of the last five years, the only player who can claim that. But he was beaten out the last four seasons by another quarterback: Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and then Matt Ryan. Finally this season Brady got his third.
Brady’s age is a big part of the story. Even with players extending their primes due to better training methods, Brady’s record as oldest MVP might hold up for a long time – and it’s still possible he breaks his own record before he retires. What he did this season was very rare: Among 40-year-old quarterbacks who have started at least nine games in a season, only two before Brady this season posted a passer rating above 76. Favre had a 107.2 rating in 2009 and Warren Moon had an 83.7 in 1997. Brady’s 102.8 rating this season shows he’s playing as well as ever.
While Brady’s numbers slumped a bit late in the regular season, in the playoffs he put to rest any notion that he’s slowing down. Brady threw for 627 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in two playoff wins. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars’ top-ranked pass defense in the AFC championship game, he threw for 290 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead a fourth-quarter comeback win.
The argument about Brady’s place in NFL history has been pretty much settled. After five Super Bowl wins and 17 years of sustained greatness, his resume is unmatched. A third NFL MVP, especially one at 40 years old, solidifies his legacy even further.
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