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As new decade dawns, Tom Brady says 'I feel like a kid'

As a different decade dawns, the Patriots remain a staple of NFL success.

At 42 years young, Tom Brady is approaching another Week 17 before beginning another Super Bowl title defense.

Yet, while he's no doubt in the winter of his generational career and easily ponders the splendor of yesterday, he's still very much looking forward, like a kid in an endless summer elated to be living out the gridiron grandeur he once dreamed about.

"I go out there and I play, I'm throwing the ball around to these receivers and you think, 'Man, I'm just ...'" Brady told the media Friday via team transcript, seemingly taking it all in as he waxed poetic in the latest of too many weekly pressers to count during his storied career. "When I was a kid, I'd be in the parking lot at Candlestick [Park], throwing the football with my friends. Now I'm throwing to the best athletes in the world, and then getting paid for it. You know, 'Hey, can you guard this guy? We're going to run this route and try to complete it.' That's what we did when we were kids, and in a lot of ways I'm still doing it as a kid. I feel like a kid, and I think it's important to still look at it like that."

As Brady maintains he's still slinging it with youthful exuberance, he also has the invaluable benefit of experience and unmatched success.

With the postseason on the horizon, a search for an unprecedented seventh Super Bowl triumph will commence for Brady and his Patriots amid the backdrop of the NFL's centennial season. As the NFL has unveiled its NFL 100 All-Time Team, Brady was unsurprisingly a member of the squad, joining, among others, the man he once looked up to when chucking the ball in the Candlestick parking lot, Joe Montana, as a unanimous pick. Though his 20-year career has most surely been a decorated one, Brady's presence on the All-Time Team isn't an honor lost on him.

"I never thought I would be playing 20 years in the NFL, and certainly never thought I would be picked to that team," Brady said. "But, I've just played with a lot of great teammates, and great coaches, and a great organization, and played for Mr. [Robert] Kraft and it's been pretty sweet."

Since Brady's rookie season all the way back when the century was at its genesis, the Patriots have made the playoffs an unbelievable 17 times. Along the way, Brady's led New England to nine Super Bowls, winning six, collecting three MVPs and 14 Pro Bowl trips.

As the Patriots have built a dynasty, he has been a constant along with coach Bill Belichick.

As the autumns and accomplishments have flashed by, so too have the faces.

"I kind of always keep in touch with different guys, and I actually saw Brian [Hoyer] and Jacoby [Brissett] today on FaceTime - they were FaceTiming each other," Brady said. "So yeah, I've had so many great players that I've played with that are on other teams. I talk to Matt Cassel, I talk to Hoy, Jimmy, Jacoby. All the guys I've played with, I feel like I'm still buddies with. So, it's cool. You know, you share a room with these guys for a long time. We've got a lot in common, and have just been great friends."

Though he says he still plays with the excitement of a kid, experience gained from the game and life in general has also lent him a different and evolving way of looking at things.

"You know, you deal with kids, and family, and life things, and a lot of the younger guys don't," Brady said. "That's just the reality. And when you're an older player, you don't take those things for granted because you realize the things that you're putting off are very important and things that you can't get back. And the longer you do it, you try to express to them that these are important things, and if it's important for me to sacrifice for them, they've got to do the same."

And so it seems that Brady is still seeing the game through a kid's eyes, while taking in the sport with the sage mind of an experienced all-time great.

His numbers have waned this season. His 3,836 yards passing, 61.1 completion percentage and 22 touchdowns are as low as they've been in quite some time.

But TB12 or the GOAT or Touchdown Tom is still leading the AFC East champions. The man of numerous nicknames is still quarterbacking New England to success. No matter the statistics, the Patriots are still winning and Brady is captaining a Super Bowl contender. In that respect, the kid's still got it.

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