SuperBowl LI: Hand of immortality beckons the ageless Tom Brady

New England Patriots' Tom Brady will bid to win a fifth SuperBowl ring when his team face the Atlanta Falcons in SuperBowl LI in Houston on Sunday.
New England Patriots' Tom Brady will bid to win a fifth SuperBowl ring when his team face the Atlanta Falcons in SuperBowl LI in Houston on Sunday.
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After Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal struck a blow for the golden oldies at the Australian Open last week, an athlete even longer in the tooth will attempt to etch his name even further into sporting immortality on Sunday.

Tom Brady has the chance to become the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl titles when he leads his New England Patriots against the Atlanta Falcons in Houston. He is currently in a tie on four wins with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana, but what sets Brady apart is that even if he does not claim the high ground all on his own this year, even at the ripe old age of 39, you sense he will be back for more.

For Brady has looked as good as ever during the 2016 season – perhaps fuelled by the perceived injustice of a four-game ban he served for his part in the ‘Deflategate’ scandal of two years ago – and is showing no signs of decline, let alone retirement. He and the Patriots have been the dominant team of the era, winning four Super Bowl titles in 15 years. They have reached the AFC Championship game (effectively the play-off semi-final) in 11 of those seasons.

It is a remarkable period of success, given this is a salary-cap era in the NFL and the stronger teams traditionally get the last pick in the annual college draft.

They are by no means favourites against the upstart Falcons, who won the NFC on the strength of the No 1 scoring offense in football, led by quarterback Matt Ryan. Atlanta has more firepower with wide receiver Julio Jones considered one of the best in the game, and the twin threat of running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in the backfield.

But if anyone can stop them, it is Brady and head coach Bill Belichek, two men destined to go down in history as their sport’s greatest.