Tom Brady: At this point, it’s about proving it to myself

Few pro athletes have gotten more external motivation from actual or perceived slights than Tom Brady. As he closes in on his 44th birthday, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady claims that he’s no longer trying to prove himself to others, and that he continues to play in order to prove to himself that he can.

“It’s hard to walk away from something that you still feel like you can do and you wanna do,” Brady told James Corden of The Late Late Show. “So it’s not about proving it to others what you can do, it’s more about proving it to yourself. And I still feel like even though I’ll be 44 this year, I still have a chance to prove it to myself that I can still do it at 44, because I really worked to a point where I can still do it at this age.”

He can say that, but no one has to believe it. At some level, Brady continues to be driven by the fact that (if you haven’t heard) he was a sixth-round pick in 2000, the 199th player selected and the seventh quarterback.

He’s also surely driven at some level by his legacy, even though he’s already regarded by many as the greatest quarterback of all time if not the greatest player at any position. He claimed with a straight face, however, that he never thinks about being the best ever.

“Really?” Corden said. “You never sit and think, at what I do, I’m the best?”

“It’s like saying what do you like better, steak, fish, chicken?” Brady said.

Corden pounced on the right answer: “Steak.”

Brady knows he needs to project a certain degree of humility. But I don’t care what he says — he’s STILL driven by what others think of him, and he surely knows he’s the greatest overall quarterback of all time. There have been better passers and better runners and quarterbacks who do both better. But no one has done what matters most more than him, and there’s a very good chance no one ever will. And he definitely knows it, and if he doesn’t allow himself to savor that in rare, fleeting moments, then maybe he really is some sort of cyborg.