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When a football player continues to play football beyond the age of 40, he eventually will be playing with men young enough to be his sons. And so they will begin to defer to him in the same way a son defers to a father.

“It’s so funny because, you know, he’s 43 years old, you know what I mean?” Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette said recently on SiriusXM NFL Radio, via JoeBucsFan.com, regarding quarterback Tom Brady. “It’s like your father calling you to come do something. He’s always calling me and the running backs [after practice], ‘Hey Lenny, Shady [McCoy], Ro [Jones], come get some routes.’ And that’s what we do, and it’s paying off right now.”

Brady’s leadership and work ethic have helped the Buccaneers get better and better and better, as the cumulative effect of the effort and desire and progress continues to reveal itself. Now, they’ve got another 12 days to put in the work necessary to prepare for Brady’s latest date with destiny, in the Super Bowl.

It won’t be easy for Brady because it never is. He’s 6-3 in Super Bowls. He’s never won one in a blowout. But for a comeback for the ages against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, the aging quarterback would be 5-4 in Super Bowls. And it will take all that he and his teammates have to avoid having Brady’s all-time mark slide to 6-4, because the Chiefs may be the toughest opponent Brady has ever faced in a championship game.