PHOENIX -- New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft delivered some disappointing news to AFC East rivals on Monday when he relayed that quarterback Tom Brady told him he’s willing to play another six to seven years.
Whether Brady actually can pull that off remains to be seen, but this can’t be the news that those with the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets wanted to hear. The Patriots have dominated the division since Brady became a full-time starter in 2001, winning every title but two over that span (2002, 2008) and leading some around the division to wonder how Brady's eventual retirement might alter the picture.
Brady’s 14 division titles are the most for a quarterback in NFL history, followed by Peyton Manning (12), Joe Montana (9), Brett Favre (8), Terry Bradshaw (7) and John Elway (7). If the 39-year-old follows through on possibly playing another six or seven years, he could possibly reach 20.
Your thoughts, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross?
“Good luck,” Ross answered late Monday at the NFL’s annual meeting. “I love Tom Brady. He’s a Michigan guy. It’s OK. I don’t worry about them. We have to worry about my team.”
Brady and Ross are linked by their passion for their alma mater Michigan, and also their quest for AFC East supremacy.
That has been elusive for Ross since he became the majority owner of the Dolphins in January 2009, in large part because of Brady and coach Bill Belichick, whose 14 division titles are the most for any coach since the 1970 merger (Don Shula’s 11 are second).
With Kraft saying Monday that he hopes Belichick coaches into his 80s, and Brady hoping to play another six or seven years, the challenge remains stiff for AFC East foes like Ross’ Dolphins.
Ross, for his part, essentially said “bring it on” on Monday.
“I admire Tom Brady. He’s a fabulous person, a great player, no question. I have total respect for him. But I haven’t given up on ours. We’re building our team. I like our coach, I like our culture -- I think we’re changing it -- and we’re looking to be competitive.”