It’s easy to think an NFL player as legendary as Tom Brady was simply born with a greater level of talent than everyone else. But this is far from the truth. If he didn’t work incredibly hard, the Patriots star would’ve been just another quarterback with a short-lived football career.
Brady wasn’t supposed to be one of the best QBs of all time, but he made it happen thanks to his dedication and resolve.
Brady entered the NFL as an unremarkable prospect
It’s hard to look at the image above and believe this is the body of one of the best quarterbacks of all time. But Tom Brady looked like this in 2000, when he was a young prospect trying to earn a spot in the NFL. The fact that Brady’s body was far from chiseled was a talking point even in high school, as Workopolis explains.
Growing up in San Mateo, California, Brady “was slow as molasses and had baby fat,” according to his high school football coach, Tom Mackenzie. The coach discussed about how unimpressed he was the first time he met the future legend:
“I talked to Brady and his dad, I said, ‘Tom needs to do whatever he can to improve his quickness, his agility, his speed, in the next year and a half’ … and he did it. By his senior year, he was absolutely determined.”
Quarterbacks face a long, discouraging list of things that need improvement. But Brady didn’t feel bad for himself. Instead, he put his head down and worked to be better.
Brady had to prove himself once more when he went to the University of Michigan. He started his college career at seventh on the depth chart. Two years of hard work with the Wolverines’ coaches as well as a sports psychologist eventually got him the starting job for his final two years in Ann Arbor.
Brady did enough to show scouts he was worth taking in the 2000 NFL Draft, albeit with the 199th pick. He demonstrated that he’d do everything in his power to maximize his talent and quiet the doubters. Nothing changed once he made it to the league.
Brady’s competition with a fellow legend
Everyone knows the next part of Brady’s story. He gets drafted by the Patriots, becomes the starter after Drew Bledsoe’s injury, and to the surprise of many, leads the Patriots to a championship in the same season. With a secure spot atop the depth chart, Brady could’ve rested on his laurels. But he’s always pushed himself to surpass his supposed limits.
The extremely competitive QB found the perfect player to spar with in Peyton Manning. For most of a decade, the Patriots and Colts regularly competed in the AFC playoffs. These two quarterbacks offered an intriguing contrast: Brady as the superstar no one saw coming, and Manning as the blue blood from a football family, destined to be the No. 1 draft pick in 1998.
Brady’s Patriots came out on top in most games and in history books. The QB is often called the best of all time, and that’s partly by design. He made it a point to win more titles and outlast Manning in the NFL, as detailed in leaked emails he sent to a childhood friend, reports CBS Sports.
Brady channeled his desire to be the best into healthy energy that’s helped him maintain his focus and become a legend.
Brady’s extreme diet has helped him last in the league
The quarterback’s preparation isn’t limited to what he does in the film room or on the practice field. Brady has also stuck to a strict diet in order to improve his career. He wasn’t always this way, however.
His diet used to be more similar to that of a college kid than a pro athlete. But after Brady made it a goal to play well into his forties, he drastically changed what he ate in order to stay healthy. He eventually wrote a book about his meal plan, The TB12 Method.
His diet is deeply restrictive, and borderline impossible for anyone who isn’t rich enough to hire a personal chef, but that’s not the point. Brady has left nothing to chance in his quest to become a great player. He’s always sought out any marginal gain that can make him better or help him play longer.
This season was the first time when Brady’s football mortality was on display. There’s a real chance he’s played his final game in New England. But he’s already had a much better career than anyone anticipated. Considering his track record, you wouldn’t bet against him finding a way to surprise us again.
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