LIFE MATTERS: Greatness and Tom Brady

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By Dr. Dencio Acop

Superbowl 55 and the story of Tom Brady cannot be anything but impressive! How can it be not when it is about an individual who was left out in the cold early in life and rose to become the Greatest Of All Time in NFL Quarterback history! I think there are at least five important values that the Tom Brady story teaches us. First is his humility. Second is his patience. Preparation is third. Fourth is steely delivery. And finally, there is his larger than life character.

Tom Brady may have eventually won seven NFL Superbowl Rings at age 43 — the most in NFL history thus far. But there was a time when he had been a sixth round, 199th draft pick for the New England Patriots, one of only two clubs that even recognized his talent at all. Which is really quite strange even to this day. It was not like he was a total loser back in his college football days. Because by the time the drafts came, his record at Michigan State was actually already impressive. Even in those early days, Tom Brady already displayed the qualities that would later make him a household name. He quarterbacked winning games at clutch time rallying trails to overcome winning opponents. And why was he overlooked in favor of other candidates whose records were not as impressive? Because he was humble. He never acted or talked as full of himself. He was quiet and merely let his playing record speak for itself. His boyishly innocent looks did not help as they betrayed a superior quality that was not in the criteria list of scrutinizing owners, coaches, and staff — his heart.

Patience is a virtue. Such a truism in the case of Tom Brady, his second legacy. Despite his impressive record, Brady was a benchwarmer in the first year of his NFL career. Quarterbacks who came ahead of him in the draft choice were starters in his team and with other clubs. Brady was only let in when the starting quarterback finally got injured like Bledsoe. Through all his benchwarming, Brady kept his cool, behaved like a team player, and listened to his coach Belichick. He was young. He had time. He was patient. He knew his time would come.

Preparation is Brady’s third great virtue. He not ony patiently waited for his turn to play ball. He prepared while he waited. He practiced all the time. His preparation reminds me of Bruce Lee who dedicated all to his education and training until his break came. Often bypassed for a political break, the young attorney Abraham Lincoln once remarked that he ‘would study and prepare because one day his time would come’. When Brady couldn’t see his name anywhere by the fifth draft round, he took off for a breath of fresh air with his baseball bat, his disappointment dampened by tears. Those moments of near misses had given Brady the determination to make good his God-given talent and break. He was not about to throw away his second lease on life by playing badly due to his lack of preparation. In fact, he had prepared so hard that when Patriots owner Kraft later asked him, he confidently answered that ‘he was the best decision the franchise ever made’. And of course he was right.

Steely delivery is Brady’s fourth legacy. GOAT may not have impressed early on with a strong right arm, impressive upper body, or fast runs. But if they had opened up his chest, as the Forty-Niners’ coach had later admitted, they would have seen a heart that was second to none. Comeback wins in the fourth quarter have become a Brady trademark that put fear into his opponents’ hearts and minds. Probably why Mahomes and the Chiefs simply lost their nerves in Superbowl 55 especially the final quarter. As opponents lost theirs, Brady’s nerves just got steelier the more tight spots came into the picture. It was like the challenges fed Brady’s appetite for clutch performances and proving the impossible. Stability under pressure seems like an understatement for GOAT.

Finally, Brady’s greater than life character on and off the field betrays the heart and spirit of a true champion. He has never let down his team sharing his MVP success with each of his teammates. He has publicly demonstrated his love for his wife and children. He has remained professional to his franchise and coaches despite ill-treatment at times prompting him to leave the Patriots eventually. But not after giving New England six championship trophies. He is a man of faith. His catholic parents were married for forty years and his catholic marriage to his wife began in 2009. Now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the qualities and attributes that made New England six-peat champions seem to have moved to Florida with Brady. The Tom Brady factor is the determinant in the winning streaks and success of these franchises that have had him. Whether they admit it or not. ‘You cannot put a good man down’ or ‘the cream always rises to the top’ are simply expressions of truism that apply to the greatness that is Tom Brady.

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