Three months after winning his fifth Super Bowl ring, Tom Brady just won an offseason title too. The New England Patriots quarterback was selected to be on the cover of "Madden NFL 18," becoming the oldest player to appear on the cover of the popular EA Sports game.
Brady, who will turn 40 in August, grew up a few miles away from where Electronic Arts opened in his hometown of San Mateo, California. As a kid, he would work out in the EA gym, in part because the company employed a family friend who lived across the street from him.
"When this all came about," Brady told ESPN's Ian O'Connor, "I thought, 'How cool is that to do this, knowing when I was a kid in high school I was tagging along down there, working out where it all started?' It's been such a great game over a long period of time. I played it so much when I was younger, a little less now. ... My son Jack loves beating up on me."
Brady follows last year's Madden cover player, teammate Rob Gronkowski, who missed the postseason after landing on injured reserve -- adding credence to the notion of the so-called Madden Curse that started in 1999, when the first player to appear on the cover, San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst, broke his ankle in a playoff loss to Atlanta.
"I don't think Gronk's ever been cursed by anything," Brady countered. "He's in pretty good shape."
But Brady acknowledged that in accepting the EA honor, he might have added an opponent to the 2017 schedule.
"I suppose there's been some reality to that curse over the years," Brady conceded. "Hopefully I can break it. That would be pretty cool."
When he does play Madden, Brady said he usually finds himself overmatched by the oldest of his three children, 9-year-old Jack, who often chooses the Patriots as his team, forcing his father to compete against his own franchise.
"I don't like doing it," Brady said. "It does feel weird. I feel like I'm going up against my own guys that I love. Julian [Edelman] catches a pass, and I've got to tackle him. I've been Green Bay, because I like that offense. And I've been Seattle, because I love being that defense.
"But to be the one to represent our team on the cover, I never thought I'd have the opportunity to do it. Personally, I think it's very cool. When it comes out, that's a topic of conversation in our locker room for weeks and weeks, even as we go into the season. ... I think I represent a lot of people when I do something like this. And only one person gets to do it every year."