TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has said repeatedly throughout his career that he would like to play until age 45. But now, at the age of 43, and preparing to play in his 10th Super Bowl and first with the Bucs, he is open to playing beyond that.
"Definitely. I'd definitely consider that," Brady said Monday. "It's a physical sport. Just the perspective I have on that is you never know when that moment is. Just because it's a contact sport. There's a lot of training that goes into it. And it has to be 100 percent commitment from myself to keep doing it."
After 20 years with the New England Patriots, playing in more of a "dink and dunk"-style offense, many questioned whether Brady would be able to transition to Bruce Arians' "No Risk It, No Biscuit" offense. But Brady's 5,493 passing yards this season, including the playoffs, are the fourth most in his career. His 4,633 passing yards during the regular season was fifth most in his career. His 34 completions on passes of 20 or more air yards was the most in the league this season and the most of his career.
"I think I'll know when it's time," Brady said. "I don't know when that time will come. But I think I'll know. And I'll understand that I gave everything I could to give to this game. You put a lot into it. I don't think I could ever go at this game half-ass. I've gotta put everything into it. When I put it all out there, [when] I feel like I can't do it anymore, I don't feel like I can commit to the team in the way that the team needs me, then I think that's when it's probably time to walk away."
"I want to play as long as they let me," he said. "In order to do that, I have to take care of my body as much as I take care of everything else on the field. If you want to play this sport for a long time, how physical as it is, you have to invest as much time into your body as you do anything else. I've learned more and more in my young career so far about what I can do to keep myself available and healthy and try to be in the best nutritional state I can be in. I feel like I can be better."
Brady has made a career out of defying expectations, including his own. From his time at Junipero Sierra High School in San Mateo, California, to being a seventh-string quarterback at Michigan to playing in his first Super Bowl in New Orleans, after taking over for Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe -- he has had to keep raising the bar, which is a big reason he's open to continue playing past his original goal, along with the help of body coach Alex Guerrero, who relocated to Tampa to continue working with him.
Brady's personal quarterbacks coach and former MLB relief pitcher, Dr. Tom House, who has worked with him for nine years, told ESPN, "I haven't seen any diminishing in arm strength."
House, who continues to monitor Brady's throwing mechanics and functional strength, pointed to Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, whom he also worked with.
"He pitched into his late 40s. And the bottom line is, there's no reason you can't do at 45 what you did at 25 if you're willing to pay the price, and Tom is obviously willing to pay the price," House said.
Bucs outside linebackers coach Larry Foote, Brady's teammate at Michigan, joked, "Looking back, we'd get on [coach] Lloyd Carr like, 'man, why you ain't just let Tom throw the ball left and right?' Because we were a run-first team at Michigan. And you see him in the pros and you go spread and he just does his thing. He don't lose. He was always the leader. We always knew we were in every game when he was under center. Nothing's changed. He was humble then, and he's still humble now. He's just the ultimate competitor. That hasn't changed."
Brady admitted that he has surprised even himself.
"I could never have imagined it would be like this. I don't think anybody could have," Brady said. "[I've] tried to go play my ass off every week. I'm still trying to do it. This work for me has never been about -- I would have thought that success is passing yards or touchdowns or Super Bowls -- it was always maximizing my potential, being the best I could be."
"When I showed up as a freshman in high school, I didn't know how to put pads in my pants. I was just hoping to play high school football because I wanted to be like Joe Montana and Steve Young. And then when I got a chance in college, I just wanted to play at Michigan. When I got drafted by the Patriots, I just wanted to play, I just wanted to start. It's just been a series of steps like that of trying to be a little better every year, trying to learn a little more every year, trying to grow and evolve in different areas.
"My life has taken certainly a lot of different directions," Brady said. "I'm obviously older now. I've got a family. A lot of incredible blessings in my life. Fast-forward 21 years, sitting in Tampa and trying to win a Super Bowl in our own home stadium would be pretty sweet."
Family will play a huge role in determining just how long Brady will play. He's committed to being a present husband and father. He's married to Gisele Bundchen, and they have two children together, Benny (11) and Vivi (8), along with Jack (13), who lives with his mother, Bridget Moynahan, in New York and was on hand to watch him play in the NFC Championship Game. He has acknowledged the sacrifices his family has made while he continues playing. Even this week, with the Super Bowl at home in Tampa, his family has given him 12 days to himself.
He's on a two-year contract with the Bucs, worth $50 million, but he's enjoying himself and has been rejuvenated by the challenge of learning a new offense. He's enjoying a new environment with new coaches and new teammates, living on the water and enjoying picturesque nightly sunsets. But he will always look back on his journey with the Patriots with great fondness, including his time with coach Bill Belichick.
"I have a great relationship with him," Brady said. "I'm just incredibly grateful for what he's meant in my life as a coach. He was everything you could ask for as a player. I loved my time [there]. I had two incredible decades there. My football journey took me to a different place, and I certainly could have never accomplished the things in my career without his support and his teachings. Incredible coach and mentor for me. I've had a lot of those in my career, but obviously he's at the top of the list."
ESPN's Adam Teicher contributed to this report.