FRISCO, Texas – With each passing year, the contrast gets more and more absurd.
With the Cowboys drafting 11 rookies – and keeping all of them on the active roster to start the season – it was sure to be in stark contrast in 2021. The talk around next week's season opener against Tampa Bay is going to center on the legendary figure of Tom Brady – and the fact that he's been in the NFL about as long as some of his opponents have been alive.
"He was playing football before I even know what it was," said Osa Odighizuwa. "Just to be in this game to be playing against the GOAT, is crazy."
Of course, "GOAT," is the perhaps-overused acronym for Greatest Of All Time – a title that no doubt fits Brady and his seven Super Bowl championships. But as ubiquitous as Brady's accomplishments have become across the NFL landscape, it's surreal to think that his upcoming opponents don't even remember some of them.
Another one of the guys who'll be looking across the line at Brady next week, first-round pick Micah Parsons, was told Thursday that he hadn't yet turned one year old on April 16, 2000, when Brady was drafted No. 199 overall by the New England Patriots.
"That's actually pretty crazy but you just got to give credit to him, the fact that he's able to stay in this league this long and be so dominant," Parsons said. "So he's one of the greatest to ever do it, so I really look up to a guy like Tom Brady because I want to have as long a career as him."
Talk about an intense first test for the entire Cowboys defense, let alone the rookies who will see their first game action. Brady's accolades speak for themselves, and he enters his second season in Tampa with one of the best receiver corps in the NFL, not to mention the entire offense that helped him win Super Bowl LV seven months ago.
Still, even the greatest quarterback of all time is just the next opponent, at the end of the day. Odighizuwa acknowledged it'd be a mistake to dwell too much on factors outside the game itself. In fact, he even provided a scouting report on Brady – which sounded pretty accurate, having watched enough of his distinguished career.
"Get him off the spot and his passer rating goes down by a lot, so our role is super important this week as far as getting after him and rushing our butts off," Odighizuwa said.
That scouting report has been on record since at least 2007, when a fearsome New York Giants pass rush battered Brady in Super Bowl XLII – and when Odighizuwa was just nine years old.
The challenge, as always, will be executing it.
"I mean, I feel like he's not a guy who's too worried about what I'm saying," Odighizuwa said. "He's obviously going to be aware of it, but he's been doing this for a while."