The Couch Slouch

When it comes to old NFL quarterbacks, one of these things is not like the other

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It is the golden age of golden oldies among NFL quarterbacks.

Week 1 saw seven starting quarterbacks aged 35 or older:

Tom Brady, 42, Patriots; Drew Brees, 40, Saints; Eli Manning, 38, Giants; Philip Rivers, 37, Chargers; Ben Roethsliberger, 37, Steelers; Aaron Rodgers, 35, Packers, and, somehow, Ryan Fitzpatrick, 36, Dolphins.

That is a lot of Super Bowl champions and future Hall of Famers, plus, somehow, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Of the seven, five of them remarkably have played for only one team, Brees has played for two teams and, then, somehow, there is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started for his record eighth NFL team on Sunday.

Fitzgerald's rap sheet: Two seasons in St. Louis, two in Cincinnati, four in Buffalo, one in Tennessee, one in Houston, two with the New York Jets, two in Tampa Bay and, now, his first season in Miami.

He has a U-Haul Premier Rewards Card.

As a starter, Fitzgerald is 50-75-1, with a career passer rating of 81.1.

Which came first?

He's the classic chicken-and-egg signal-caller: Did he just happen to play on a lot of bad teams, or did they become bad teams because he was their quarterback?

Okay, let's not dwell on the paranormal, let's deal with the wonder of Brady and Brees.

Brady came into the NFL in 2000, Brees in 2001; both sat on the bench their first year.

Going into this season, their individual stats are history-shattering and eerily similar.

Brady: 97.6 passer rating, 517 touchdowns, 171 interceptions, 70,514 yards, 7.5 yards per attempt, 64.0 percent completion rate, 44 game-winning drives in 267 starts.

Brees: 97.7 passer rating, 520 touchdowns, 233 interceptions, 74,437 yards, 7.6 yards per attempt, 67.3 percent completion rate, 48 game-winning drives in 263 starts.

The biggest divide – one is an all-timer, the other a mere Hall of Famer – is win-loss record. Brady, playing with better teams, is 207-60 as a starter; Brees is 155-108. In the postseason, Brady is 30-10, with six Super Bowl championships; Brees is 8-7, with one title.

Maybe those numbers will flip over the next 20 years, as both are intent on playing forever.

No stopping us now

(My sources – and, yes, I play racquetball with Gisele Bundchen every Tuesday – tell me Brady is never going to retire. He's talked about playing until he's 45, and when he reaches 45, he'll talk about playing to 50 and so on. I saw his Franklin Planner: He has a series of TB12 diets penciled in until 2044, and, in the autumn, it always lists Sunday as "game day.")

Heck, if you're the lead singer in the band, who wants to give that up? There's a reason that Jon Bon Jovi, Roger Daltrey, Mick Jagger, Axl Rose, David Lee Roth, Steven Tyler and Bruce Springsteen keep strutting across stages into their 50s, 60s and 70s. Why wouldn't 40-something phenoms like Brady and Brees keep suiting up?

Dream job

Then there's Josh McCown.

The career journeyman – 23-53 record, 79.7 passer rating – spent his first four seasons, 2002-05, with the Cardinals. Then he bounced around to nine other teams – he seldom overstayed his welcome – and even was out of the league in 2010. One of the teams he played for, the 49ers, signed him on Aug. 17, 2011 and released him on Sept 3, 2011; that's not even one laundry cycle.

McCown retired after the 2018 season and joined ESPN. But then the Eagles called him and, at age 40, McCown has un-retired to back up Carson Wentz.

And it gets better.

He has Fridays off!

The Eagles agreed to let McCown fly back to Charlotte, N.C., every weekend to help coach his two sons' high school football team.

(Two ways to look at this – 1. That's how badly the Eagles wanted McCown. 2. That's how much they don't need McCown; for all we know, they might've agreed to a contract clause that lets him take a 10-day Carnival Cruise once a month.)

Here's my dream: Later this season, with different teams than they currently play for, Josh McCown replaces Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Ask the Slouch

Q. Andrew Luck walked away from $50 million, but his body was hurting. Antonio Brown's mind must've been hurting if he walked away from $30 million, no? (Scott Parker; Houston)

A. Actually, I think Brown is smarter than he looks here, or did you never listen to Mike Mayock's NFL telecasts?

Q. My son — born and raised in Silver Spring — has just moved to Los Angeles. Is there any hope for the lad? (Ken Giglio; Silver Spring, Md.)

A. Tell him to look me up when he gets out here. Of course, I won't get back to him; this will be his first L.A. lesson.

Q. Just Fresca? What happened to Yuengling? (Levi Goldfarb; Temple Hills, Md.)

A. Just because I drink Fresca doesn't mean I no longer drink Yuengling. Similarly, just because I dislike the Patriots doesn't mean I no longer dislike the Raiders.

Q. Since so many viewers have already turned off the volume on "Sunday Night Baseball," does ESPN keep showing the announcers on camera to justify the expense? (Mike Soper; Washington, D.C.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

Kevin C Cox/Getty Images

We all love football, especially the NFL. There is a reason it is the most popular sport in the country.

The other sports leagues need gimmicks. Baseball is weighing a really dumb playoff plan. The NBA looked at a possible tournament. Anything to try to be more relevant, to try to close the gap on the NFL.

So why is the one sport with the best postseason thinking about messing it up?

Last week, a report came out that the NFL was looking to add two more playoff teams for the 2021 season. Essentially, each league would have seven playoff teams. There would be byes for the top team in each conference. The second-best team would no longer get a bye. Last season, in the AFC, the Ravens would have had a bye. The Texans would have still faced the Bills, and the Patriots would have also faced the Titans. The Chiefs would have hosted the 8-8 Steelers.

In the NFC, San Francisco would have had the bye. The Saints would have played the Vikings, the Eagles would have faced the Seahawks and the Packers would have hosted the Rams. The results likely would have played out the same.

But did we really need to see a Steelers team with no quarterback? Are the extra games worth it?

On the surface, yes. more meaningful games. More to bet on. Could that really be a bad thing?

Yes. One of the things that makes the NFL unique is that it is not easy to make the playoffs. Basketball and hockey let in half the league or more. Letting in more than 12 out of 32 waters things down. Can the playoffs really improve by adding less quality?

The NFL already has it right. Why change it? More money? More teams staying in the race later in the season?

The NFL barely had enough quality teams last season. The playoffs featured upsets, including the Titans knocking off New England and Baltimore. In the end, we got two quality teams in the Super Bowl. Why mess with it?

Greed. Better TV deals. It is just two games, but that's two more high-profile TV games to sell.

Sometimes, sports leagues can outthink themselves. In this case, the NFL does not need to change. Why mess with something that is working? The NFL playoffs don't need improving. Is that Chiefs-Steelers matchup really worth it? Teams like the Colts, Jets, Broncos and Raiders would have been in the playoff mix until near the end of the season. On the surface, this all sounds great.

But at the risk of sounding like "get off my lawn" guy, sometimes the old ways are the best. The NFL has not changed its playoff format in 30 years. During that time, the sport has seen unprecedented growth and become the dominant sports league in America.

Why change what works just to add more money to a multi-billion dollar industry? Why reward more mediocrity in a league that welcomes too much of it as it is?

The playoff expansion appears inevitable, so complaining will do little good. Still, it is a bad idea. Messing with a playoff format that works can go two ways; it could improve the product, but the more likely result is more bad teams, and more mismatches.

At least it guarantees Bill O'Brien stays employed forever, as the 9-7 train will likely get you to the playoffs from here on out.

That is not a good thing, and this is a change that will not be for the better.

Messing with something that has worked for 30 years is a bad decision. But the NFL will make more money, and two average teams will get a chance to get rolled in the first round.

What could possibly go wrong?


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