Tom Brady would be bothered by not playing in Bucs' meaningless season finale

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Tom Brady has predictable take on idea of sitting out Bucs' finale originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

There's zero at stake for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next weekend. They're locked into the NFC's No. 4 seed as the NFC South champions, and a win or loss in Week 18 won't impact their playoff position.

So, you could make the case that the Bucs should rest their starters -- especially 45-year-old quarterback Tom Brady -- to avoid injuries and stay fresh for the NFC Wild Card Round.

Want to guess how Brady feels about that?

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"It's always up to coach (Todd Bowles), but yeah, that would bother me," Brady told reporters after Sunday's division-clinching win over the Carolina Panthers about the idea of not playing against the Atlanta Falcons next weekend. "I haven't missed a game other than my (torn) ACL (in 2008) and (my four-game suspension) in 2016."

Brady's answer should surprise no one: The NFL's all-time leader in games played by a non-kicker prides himself on being available at all times and never taking his foot off the gas.

"We've got to keep going," Brady added. "This is football season. We're football players. It's what we do: We play football."

It sounds like Bowles will honor Brady's wishes; while the Bucs coach said all options are on the table, he added that "everybody needs to plan on playing" in their season finale against the 6-10 Falcons in Atlanta.

Of course, Bowles could always start Brady and the No. 1 offense then insert Blaine Gabbert and the backups later in the game, essentially treating it like a preseason contest. The Patriots even took that tact with Brady on occasion in New England when they had the No. 1 seed sewn up.

Just don't expect Brady to exit the field willingly.