(Reuters) - Tom Brady may be one of the NFL’s oldest players and getting set to play in a record-extending ninth Super Bowl but on Saturday the New England Patriots quarterback said his love for the game has never wavered.
The 41-year-old Brady, who will depart on Sunday for the showpiece against the Los Angeles Rams on February 3, has more Super Bowl appearances than any other NFL franchise (apart from the Patriots themselves, who will be appearing in their 11th) but he has not grown tired of the work it takes to reach the title game.
“I love competing, I love playing football. I think loving the game and trying to improve and be the best I can be for the team is great motivation for me and I’ve just always spoken about winning and that’s what I love to do,” Brady told reporters.
“That’s why I’m here, that’s why this team has done such a great job. I think everyone here is just committed to winning and really doing whatever it takes to win.”
Brady has already secured five Super Bowl championships in a career in which he has established himself as one of the game’s greatest players of all time and for years has faced questions about when he will retire.
But the face of the Patriots, who just last month said his goal is to not only play next season but beyond that, is still playing at a high level despite being well past the age when quarterbacks tend to lose their efficiency.
The Patriots, based in Foxborough, Massachusetts and who fell short to the Philadelphia Eagles in last year’s Super Bowl, are slight favorites to beat the Rams in Atlanta where California-born Brady will cap the 19th season of his career.
“To come to the pros and go further away from California and to be away from there for 19 years ... I loved playing then, I still love playing now,” said Brady. “I don’t take anything for granted, I really don’t. I enjoy it.”
Brady, who knows the feeling of Super Bowl heartbreak having lost in the championship game on three occasions, is fully aware of what is at stake and despite the grind of a 16-game regular season followed by playoffs has more to give.
“Everyone at this point is tired and worn down but at the same time, you have one of the great opportunities in your life. This is a memory you’ll have forever and I really hope we can go out and take advantage of it,” said Brady.
“The Rams have worked equally as hard. They’ve got a great team. They do well in all phases just like all the teams we’ve played in this game.
“It’s a very difficult game to win. I’m excited for it. I’m going to try to get as much rest as I can and try to go out and play our best game of the year when we need it the most.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Tony Lawrence