Tom Brady will be 41 when next season starts. And the doubters will be back.

Father Time will finally take hold and Brady’s skills will erode, right?

That question will persist. And it’s fair for skeptics to ask that about a 41-year-old, even if he is the reigning MVP.

But Brady has done such a good job defying his age, and in many ways being a better quarterback at 40 than he was a decade ago, that a lot of his NFL rivals have pretty much given up waiting for his decline.

They’ve stopped wondering when he’ll act his age. They’ve stopped predicting when Brady will no longer be a perennial MVP candidate.

“He’ll probably be as good at 41 as he was at 40. Tom’s ageless,” Jets Coach Todd Bowles said, as he took a minute out from watching players at the NFL scouting combine last week. “I think he’ll play as well as he wants to, as long as he wants to.”

Chiefs Coach Andy Reid agreed.

“I don’t think you’ll see a drop-off,” Reid said. “He takes care of himself. He’s one of these unique characters in this profession that make it so great. Shoot, I hope he plays til he’s 50. Whatever he wants to do. He deserves the right to do it.”

Reid may be a competitor, and someone who’s had his share of ups and downs with the five-time Super Bowl winner. But it sure sounded like he was rooting for Brady to continue making history.

At age 40, the Patriots’ quarterback produced one of his best seasons. He was the NFL MVP for the third time. He led an amazing comeback in the AFC Championship game, bringing the Pats back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter against the Jaguars with 12 stitches in his throwing hand and no Rob Gronkowski to aid him. Then, in Super Bowl LII, he threw for 505 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a losing effort. The oldest player on the field had a 115.4 passer rating in the biggest game of the year.

“Nothing that Tom Brady does surprises me,” said Texans Coach Bill O’Brien, Brady’s former offensive coordinator in New England. “I was in the room with him a long time. He just does an unbelievable job of taking care of his body. He’s ultra-competitive . . . he’s doing everything he needs to do to stay at the top of his game, which is really at the top of the league.”

Former NFL executive Mark Dominik, who was doing a daily SiriusXM radio show at the scouting combine, thinks everyone should just stop asking the age question when it comes to Brady. He’s proving the age of 40 isn’t a barrier to on-field success.

“I’m in awe of it. The way he played last year, he’s definitely got two or three more years,” said Dominik, the former Buccaneers GM. “It’s incredible. Whether you love him or you don’t, you’re witnessing something amazing right now. You’ll appreciate it more as time goes away. But his game right now, says nothing to the fact, ‘Oh well when they hit the wall, it hits fast.’ I don’t think that’s the case for Tom.”

Dominik indicated he’s seen no notable change in Brady’s mechanics from when he first came in the league. The delivery is still pretty much the same. He hasn’t had to make any concessions to age.

“He’s had good mechanics throughout his career. And, he’s a clean liver,” said Dominik. “He’s a clean eater, a clean everything. If you take care of your body, you should be able to play two or three more years.”

Having offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels stick around will also keep Brady in good stead. The two obviously have a tight bond and work well together in the Patriots’ offense.

“I think it helps a ton,” Dominik said of the Brady-McDaniels bond. “It’s a comfort for everybody. But for Tom Brady, it’s someone he trusts and knows, and someone he can bounce stuff off and work with really closely. Sure, he meets with (Bill) Belichick. But for Tom, having Josh there is critical.”

Mike Vrabel is poised to become Brady’s first former teammate to oppose him as a head coach when the Pats travel to Tennessee next season. He’s had some experience getting ready for this, after coordinating the Texans’ defense that was shredded by Brady in Foxborough last season.

Vrabel doesn’t believe he’s going to get a diminished version of the all-time great. He’s planning on the version he saw last season.

“I think it’s really cool to see a teammate and great friend have that kind of success,” said Vrabel. “You know, we just moved (to Tennessee), and came across some old pictures. You see him with the kids carrying his pads off the field, and he’s 25. It seems like it was yesterday, but it was a long time ago.”

It might be even longer before Brady finally shows his age. For now, his rivals have given up wondering when he might decline.

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