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QBs for the ages: How does Tom Brady compare to Warren Moon

A weekly feature charting Brady in his mid-40s versus the final three seasons of history’s greatest quarterbacks.
Playing in Munich against the Seahawks, Bucs quarterback Tom Brady was as crisp as he’s looked all season.
Playing in Munich against the Seahawks, Bucs quarterback Tom Brady was as crisp as he’s looked all season. [ STEVE LUCIANO | AP ]
Published Nov. 13

Yes, Tom Brady is the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards. And touchdowns. And almost every other passing statistic. But what is remarkable — what sets him apart from most athletes in most sports — is that he is still playing at age 45 and still performing at an elite level.

To put that in perspective, we’ve come up with a list of history’s greatest quarterbacks as a comparison. Each week, we’ll look at the final three seasons of a different quarterback versus what Brady has done with the Bucs in, presumably, his final three seasons.

It’s not a perfect apples-to-apples comparison, because there are differences in eras and most quarterbacks are retired long before 45. But it does give you an idea of how rare it is to see a player still dominating while holding off middle age.

Brady vs. Moon

Warren Moon, pictured with the Houston Oilers in 1990, was 27 when he made his NFL debut, and went to become the first Black quarterback elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Warren Moon, pictured with the Houston Oilers in 1990, was 27 when he made his NFL debut, and went to become the first Black quarterback elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. [ DAVID SCARBROUGH | ASSOCIATED PRESS ]

The set-up: If we were judging by numbers alone, Warren Moon’s legacy in the NFL would be secure. He was named to nine Pro Bowls, finished in the top six of MVP voting three times and led the league in passing yards twice. But Moon’s impact goes far beyond that. Undrafted out of Washington in an era when African American quarterbacks in the NFL were rare, Moon went to the Canadian Football League and won five Grey Cup titles in his six seasons in Edmonton. He was 27 when he made his NFL debut, and went to become the first Black quarterback elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The end: Moon was one of the rare quarterbacks to survive until his mid-40s, although his performance pales compared to Brady. Moon did lead the NFL in passing yards per game in 1997 at age 41 in Seattle, but he lost his hold on the starting job the following year and finished his career with two seasons as a backup in Kansas City. When he started a game at age 44 in 2000, he was the second-oldest QB in league history behind Steve DeBerg. Vinny Testaverde and Brady have since surpassed him on the age chart.

Moon

Warren Moon, pictured in 1997, led the NFL in passing yards per game in 1997 at age 41 in Seattle, but lost his hold on the starting job the following year.
Warren Moon, pictured in 1997, led the NFL in passing yards per game in 1997 at age 41 in Seattle, but lost his hold on the starting job the following year. [ LENNY IGNELZI | ASSOCIATED PRESS ]

Years: 1998-2000

Ages: 42-44

Completed 161 of 295 passes with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions for 1,860 yards and a 74.7 passer rating. Was 4-7 as a starter.

Brady

Tom Brady went downfield more than he had in weeks, throwing only two passes to running backs as he completed 22 of 29 for 258 yards.
Tom Brady went downfield more than he had in weeks, throwing only two passes to running backs as he completed 22 of 29 for 258 yards. [ GARY MCCULLOUGH | AP ]
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Brady in Week 10: Another nation, another conquest for Brady. Playing in Munich against the Seahawks, Brady was as crisp as he’s looked all season. He went downfield more than he had in weeks, throwing only two passes to running backs as he completed 22 of 29 for 258 yards. The only downside? His career-high streak of 399 consecutive passes without an interception ended in the fourth quarter when he couldn’t get a pass over linebacker Cody Barton.

Years: 2020-22

Ages: 43-45

Has completed 1,168 of 1,756 passes with 95 touchdowns and 26 interceptions for 12,754 yards and a 99.6 passer rating. Is 29-14 as a starter.

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