On Sunday, Tom Brady will lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55. He’ll do so as the oldest starting quarterback to appear in a super bowl, besting his own record set when he started in Super Bowl 53.
Brady, 43, will be two weeks older than John F. Kennedy when he was elected President of the United States in 1960. He’ll also be five years older than Neil Armstrong when he became the first human to walk on the moon and a decade older than Colin O’Brady when he crossed Antarctica alone and unaided. Brady, like other Americans 40 and up, is even old enough to sue under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. He’s also just seven years shy of the chance to join the American Association of Retired Persons.
What makes the “GOAT” thrive as a middle-ager? Talent, good genes, hard work and dedication are clearly essential. Brady swears by another ingredient: the TB12 Method. The subject of Brady’s New York Times best-selling book and his privately held TB12 business, the “method” preaches lifestyle strategies that, according to book publisher Simon & Schuster, have “extended” Brady’s career and “can make any athlete, male or female, in any sport and at any level achieve his or her own peak performance and do what they love, better and for longer.”
Key among those strategies: enhancing “pliability,” which TB12sports.com describes as “the state in which your muscles are long, soft, and resilient, enabling them to absorb and disperse forces—in both sport and daily life—and operate efficiently.” In his book, Brady explains that “optimal pliability allows for ongoing regeneration.” He warns that without adequate pliability, strength training will lead to degeneration, which in turn will cause injury and, ultimately, spark “less muscle pump function, less oxygenation, and less rejuvenation.” Most people are apparently unaware of this destructive sequence. “Unfortunately,” Brady writes, “this is what aging currently looks like for 99.9% of the world.”
Brady, aided by body coach Alex Guerrero, spends considerable energy dispensing advice on how to limit aging’s impact. For instance, Brady advises “there are so many things people do to accelerate their own aging process that we’ve created assumptions around what we expect our bodies to look like year after year.” He adds that while his “perspective may be that of a pro quarterback,” he and Guerrero “have worked hard over the years to ensure that the TB12 principles are applicable to anyone who is committed to a healthy, holistic lifestyle.”
This inclusive spirit is evident on TB12sports.com, which features such articles as How To Safely Beat Aging with Speed & Power and Age Is Just A Number—where you can learn how Brady “is bending the aging curve in his favor”—and sells training sessions, equipment and dietary supplements like Vitalfit Tart Cherry and TB12 Omega that are designed to counter aging’s effects. The book, meanwhile, contains comments from satisfied TB12 customers. “Jackie,” a self-described “aging but avid runner” reports experiencing “immense relief . . . after two days of using the TB12 Vibrating Pliability Roller and Sphere.”
TB12 products acknowledge Food and Drug Administration regulations on supplements and goods that tout age-slowing and related properties. To that end, they carry the warning: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
While Brady is neither the first nor last celebrity to hawk goods intended to keep us young, the persistence of his success and the investment in his own brand, 16WMarketing co-founder Steve Rosner told Sportico in a phone interview, make Brady a uniquely authoritative voice.
“When someone endorses a product,” Rosner stressed, “credibility is crucial.” Rosner has negotiated contracts for former NFL QBs Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason and numerous other sports figures and broadcasters.
“You see an athlete and they’re promoting a drink or a car,” Rosner said. “Does the athlete really use it?”
Rosner finds that with successful endorsements, consumers tend to believe the athlete has, or would, use the endorsed product.
Rosner sees reason for consumers to feel confident that Brady believes in what he sells. “Brady hasn’t endorsed a lot of products,” Rosner said. “That’s an advantage to him. It signals to consumers that he really cares about TB12.”
Whether the TB12 method actually works is a separate consideration. Some insist that it does, while others have their doubts. Rosner believes that most consumers recognize that their mileage with supplements and exercises will vary. But watching a 43-year-old on Sunday potentially win his seventh Super Bowl ring certainly won’t hurt sales.