Tom Brady, take a break?
You’ve got to be kidding. Even though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have clinched the NFC South title and can’t change their playoff seeding with a win in the regular-season finale at Atlanta, Brady seemed pretty perplexed when asked if it would bother him to take a rest this weekend.
“It’s always up to coach, but yeah, that would bother me,” Brady said Sunday after throwing for a season-high 432 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-24 win against the Carolina Panthers.
“I haven’t missed a game other than my ACL (injury), and then in 2016, I missed the first four games,” he added, alluding to the 15 games missed in 2008 and the Deflategate suspension. “Other than that, I’ve played them all.”
Brady paused, smiled and chuckled at the thought of sitting out.
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“I was very polite there,” the quarterback said. “It takes a lot for me to be polite.”
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We get it. Brady, 45, has played 381 games, including the postseason, during his 23 NFL seasons. If there’s a game on, he wants in. Especially now, with Brady coming off his best game of the season, having rediscovered what it’s like to connect with Mike Evans on the deep throws and with the Bucs (8-8) seeking to build on momentum that could come if they can defeat the Falcons and finish the regular season with their first three-game winning streak of the season.
There’s no debate about Brady’s status. Bucs coach Todd Bowles agrees, mindful of how his team – Brady included – has struggled all season to establish consistency. Bowles said that his starters will play on Sunday. And for good reason
“We can get better at a lot of things that we need to work on,” Bowles said, “and we don’t need to take our foot off the gas.”
Bowles, whose team will be seeded fourth in the NFC playoffs and host either the Dallas Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles in their playoff opener, allowed that he’ll have discussions with his staff this week to determine strategies for perhaps pulling some of the regulars at some points in the game on Sunday. Yet, generally speaking, he won’t go into the final fearing injury risks.
“I mean, it’s football,” Bowles said. “You can’t play 16 games and worry about the 17th … You can get hurt the first week, you can get hurt in training camp. If you worry about that, you’re probably going to get hurt anyway. We signed up to play football and coach football; that’s what we’re going to do. If you worry about injuries, you probably don’t need to be playing this sport.”