Tom Brady after 40: Comparing the GOAT’s ageless achievements to other great athletes

Tom Brady has accomplished more in the NFL since turning 40 than some quarterbacks do in their entire career.  

In fact, you could make the argument that the ageless quarterback wonder has done more than any athlete across the major sports in the United Sports since turning 40.  

Brady, 43, has played four seasons in the NFL since turning 40 with the Patriots and Buccaneers. He’s passed for 17,622 yards, 125 TDs and 39 interceptions in those four seasons. He averages 350.4 passing yards with 17 TDs and seven interceptions in playoff games since turning 40.  

Now, Brady leads Tampa Bay into a matchup against Kansas City in Super Bowl 55 on Sunday. It’s Brady’s third Super Bowl appearance since turning 40 — and there are no hints that retirement will follow the game. It is more impressive than any other NFL quarterback after 40, and Brady could make a run at the George Blanda, who was the oldest player in league history at 48.  

Seriously, how long can Brady do it? Would winning a Super Bowl at 43 years old be the greatest over-40 accomplishment across those major sports? SN looks at some other iconic athletes after 40 to find out:  

MORE: Patrick Mahomes at 25 is on level with sports’ biggest legends

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Vince Carter 

Carter, who was known for high-flying dunks early in his career, played four full seasons after turning 40. Carter averaged between 15 and 25 minutes per season in that stretch between stops with Memphis, Sacramento and Atlanta. He retired at 43 years old after the 2020 season.  

George Foreman  

Which knockout was more impressive? Foreman won his first heavyweight title in 1973 when he knocked out Joe Frazier. Foreman won his second heavyweight title 22 years later when he defeated Michael Moorer on Nov. 5, 1994. Foreman was 45 years old at the time, and he continued in the ring until he was 48 years old. 

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar  

Jabbar played two full seasons after turning 40 in 1987. He scored 14.6 points with six rebounds per game for the Los Angeles Lakers championship run in 1987-88, and he averaged 10.1 points per game in his final season in 1988-89. Jabbar retired as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. 

Gordie Howe   

He maintained remarkable consistency in his 40s. Howe had his last 100-point season with Detroit at 40 year old in 1968-69. He scored more than 100 points twice in the World Hockey Association from 1972-77 before returning to the NHL. Howe played his last hockey game with the Hartford Whalers in 1980 when he was 52 years old. 

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Jaromir Jagr 

Jagr’s career began in 1990 with Pittsburgh, where he played two Stanley Cup championship teams early in his career. After turning 40, Jagr bounced around five different NHL franchises. He enjoyed 60-point seasons with New Jersey in 2013-14 and Florida in 2015-16. Jagr, is currently playing with HC Kladno in Czechoslovakia.  

Randy Johnson 

The Big Unit pitched six full seasons after turning 40, and he led the league with 290 strikeouts as a 40 year old pitcher with Arizona in 2004. Johnson managed 173 strikeouts as a 44 year old pitcher in 2008. He retired after a stint with San Francisco in the 2009 season. 

Jack Nicklaus  

Nicklaus isn’t the oldest golfer to win a Major, but he had the most-memorable run at the 1986 Masters. Nicklaus has won the U.S. Open and PGA Championship at 40 years old in 1980, but he won his 18th Major at 46 years old. Nicklaus won the tournament at –9, which included a 30 on the back nine. The iconic image of the “Golden Bear” with his putter in the air still resonates.  

Martina Navratilova  

Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam singles title in her career, but it was a few late-career accomplishments that still stand today. In 2003, Navratilova was part of the champion mixed doubles teams at the Australian Open and Wimbledon at 48 years old. She broke that record in 2006 at the U.S. Open with Bob Bryan a few months before turning 50 years old. 

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Nolan Ryan  

Ryan pitched seven seasons in the major leagues after turning 40, and he led the league in strikeouts four times from 1980-83 in that stretch. Ryan pitched 1,271.2 innings with 1,437 strikeouts after turning 40. That strikeout total would rank 26th among the active career leaders today. Ryan also threw two no-hitters after turning 40, the second at 44 years old. 

Robert Parish  

Jabbar’s rival became the oldest NBA player to win a championship ring as a 43 year old with the Chicago Bulls in 1996-97. Parish played in 43 games that season and averaged 3.7 points per game.

Satchel Paige  

Paige’s playing career started in 1926, but he didn’t make his Major League debut until he was 41 years old in 1948. Paige compiled a 3.28 ERA with 288 strikeouts over those five seasons. He returned for one relief appearance with Kansas City at 59 years old in 1965. Paige pitched scoreless innings. 

Dara Torres  

Torres made the U.S. Olympic swim team five times, and she won 12 medals during that prolific career. Torres made history in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing when she made the team at 41 years old. Torres won the silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle and was part of silver-medal teams in the 400 freestyle and 400 medley relays. 

Tiger Woods  

Woods became the second oldest player to win The Masters in 2019. The 43-year-old rallied on the back nine to shoot a –13, and it was his first Major victory since 2008. The victory at Augusta was an incredible comeback story. Woods, 45, has won 15 majors in his career. 

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