There’s one quarterback record that Tom Brady won’t break


Now that Brady is retired, there are three more quarterbacks who theoretically have a chance.

Steve DeBerg started against the Jets in 1998 — and was fired three times by a Bill Belichick defense — to become the oldest player to start at QB in the NFL.

Tom Brady retired earlier last week with a room full of trophies and an encyclopedia of awards. But he will lose an honor: he is not the oldest quarterback to have started a game in the NFL.

Steve DeBerg was 44 years and 279 days old when he made his last start as a member of the Falcons. On October 25, 1998, against the Jets, DeBerg got the call. A New York defense — led by defensive coordinator Bill Belichick — sacked him three times en route to a 28-3 win. DeBerg was 9 for 20 for 117 yards and an interception.

DeBerg would see the duty to mop up the rest of the season for the NFC champions, but that would be it. (He threw his last NFL pass on Dec. 27, 1998, in a win over the Dolphins. He was 44 years and 342 days old.) DeBerg, who turned 45 two weeks before the Super Bowl that season , became the oldest. player ever be on a Super Bowl roster.

As for Brady, he was 44 years and 173 days old when he and the Buccaneers were knocked out of the Divisional Round playoffs this year by the Rams. Had he managed to stay for at least the start of the 2022 season, he would have beaten DeBerg’s mark.

For the record, George Blanda remains the oldest player to throw a pass in an NFL game. The Hall of Famer, who was almost exclusively a kicker from the age of 40, completed a pass in the Raiders’ 1975 regular season finale at the age of 48 years and 95 days. Blanda is also the oldest player in NFL history to complete a touchdown pass, throwing for one for Oakland against Dallas on December 14, 1974 at age 47 years and 88 days.

DeBerg, who played 17 seasons for six different teams, didn’t subscribe to a special diet – SD17 just doesn’t have the same ring – or has no body coach. But that kind of longevity was enough to catch Brady’s attention a few years ago.

“I didn’t know about Steve DeBerg,” Brady said ahead of Super Bowl LII against the Eagles when asked about the brand. “I knew he was a great player, and he played for a long time. It’s a great honor for him.

Shortly after Brady’s recognition, DeBerg told me he could see Brady breaking his record.

“The main thing? Staying healthy,” DeBerg said at the time. “A lot of that is just luck. Being with a good team helps, of course. I personally think Tom can beat the record, but there’s a lot to factor into the equation. You start with health and luck, and you also have to ask yourself if your family and wife are telling you they don’t want you anymore. play. But he absolutely has the mentality to do it. He’s preparing well and is mentally focused on the important things. I think he could easily play until he’s 45.

Now that Brady is retired, there are three other quarterbacks who theoretically have a chance of breaking DeBerg’s record:

Ryan Fitzpatrick, who turns 40 in November, was with Washington last year but his contract is due to expire at the end of the 2021 season. Despite showing up shirtless in the Bills-Patriots playoff game , a 40-year-old quarterback with a hip problem doesn’t seem like a real candidate to hang around for more than four more years.

Aaron Rodgers, who turns 39 in December, is also a free agent, and there’s no doubt he’ll return for 2022, the only question being where. Back in Green Bay? Denver? A mystery team? The offseason will be interesting for Rodgers.

Matt Ryan remains an intriguing possibility. The Falcons quarterback and Boston College product has remained remarkably durable over the course of his career, never starting less than 14 games in a season. Ryan, who turns 37 in May, would need to maintain this good health for the next few years, but he is at least in a good position to break the record.

For now, DeBerg sits and waits for another quarterback to make a run at his record. He offers one last piece of advice for those who want to try and come for his brand.

“The more success you have, the more distractions appear,” he said a few years ago. “The people who keep getting better – even at the end of their careers – are the guys who become legends.”


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