What stuck out most to the 43-year-old Brady was the bounty of good young quarterbacks sprinkled around the league, he said Monday on SiriusXM NFL Radio's "Let's Go!"
"I don't remember this many rookies playing," Brady said via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. "Even the second-year guys. Tua (Tagovailoa), (Justin) Herbert, (Joe) Burrow, Trevor Lawrence. (Justin) Fields played a little bit. Trey Lance played a little bit. Zach Wilson is playing. Mac Jones is playing. That's a lot of young quarterbacks. Gone are the days of Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning. You know, those are the guys I'm used to hearing about. ...
"I'll be forgotten here soon. I'll move on and they'll be onto someone else but that's just the way football goes, as does life."
Try not to laugh too hard at the idea that Tom Brady, the man with seven rings (and counting), will be forgotten -- let alone soon. People in New York still talk about Joe Namath like a god, and he hasn't picked up a pigskin since 1977. Every gunslinger is compared to Brett Favre. Every big-time prospect is the next Andrew Luck. I still hear about Bobby Layne in Detroit once a quarter. Great quarterbacks don't get "forgotten," they become legend. GOATs become immortal.
Enough nit-picking Brady's attempt at humility. Let's get back to Brady's point: Good young QBs dot the entire landscape. He's spot on. And it's beautiful.
Let's not forget that Brady, Brees, Manning and Rivers were once young, too, at the same time. Football, like life, is cyclical. Now we're just getting a broader breadth of young QB talent.
Sunday marked the second time since the 1970 merger that three rookie QBs started Week 1 (2012: rookie QBs went 1-4), per NFL Research. It wasn't pretty out of the gate for the rookies, with all three starters (Lawrence, Wilson, Jones) losing their debuts. Fields and Lance getting into action in spells also portends to all five first-rounders starting at some point this season.
Many reasons lay behind the reasons rookies are playing from the jump. One, the competitive advantage of having a starting QB on a rookie salary is enormous for clubs. However, the most significant factor is that young signal-callers are much more prepared for the NFL than previous generations -- thanks to everything from the proliferation of 7-on-7 clubs, to high schools elevating the position, to college evolutions.
Even if not every rookie QB who played this week will pan out, recent history suggests enough will. That pool of young, fun, talented quarterbacks will continue to grow even as the elder statesmen finally hit retirement age (which for Brady might not come for another decade for all we know).
Brady hasn't fully passed the torch from his era just yet. But with the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Baker Mayfield (insert your favorite QB I omitted here) providing jaw-dropping plays in an era of unprecedented passing acumen, the NFL is only getting more fun. Each rookie QB class adding to that signal-calling talent only makes the future brighter.