If you’re talking about some of the greatest underdog stories in professional sports, it’s easy to forget that Tom Brady makes it. While calling the quarterback who has appeared in half of the new millennium’s Super Bowl’s an underdog seems drastic, he was once an unproven college athlete at Michigan. There, Brady developed a friendship with Greg Harden, and he can thank the rest of his career for this connection.
The making of Tom Brady
Brady started his first year at Michigan off the bench, appearing only sporadically for the 1996 team. He attempted only five passes, completing three of them for only 26 yards.
While the next chapter of a typical story might show a player rising above during his second season, Brady remained on the bench as a sophomore, attempting only 15 passes for 103 yards. Two years in, and he was hardly a footnote for the Michigan football program.
In 1998, Brady’s junior year, he was handed the keys to the Michigan offense. Starting in 12 games, Brady threw for over 300 passes, getting 2,427 yards in the process.
He threw the first 14 touchdown passes for his career, but with 10 interceptions to go along with them, he wasn’t a surefire NFL star. Michigan finished 12th in the nation after the 1999 season.
In 1999, Brady honed his game even further. He threw for 2,217 yards, 16 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. While the numbers didn’t slide him up the college ranks, Michigan finished fifth in the AP poll, and Brady garnered attention from NFL scouts everywhere. It took a while, but Brady’s hard work paid off when the New England Patriots called his name in the 1999 NFL Draft.
The rest is history, but somebody working behind the scenes deserves a little more shine when we look at Brady’s career.
Who is Greg Harden?
According to Insider, when Brady was at Michigan, he befriended a sports psychologist named Greg Harden. Rotting on the bench and seeing his NFL dreams go down the toilet, Brady was in the depths of despair and looking for a reason to stay on at Michigan. After pondering a transfer, Brady talked to Harden, and a friendship was born. Brady spoke about this relationship with Howard Stern.
“I started working with a psychologist, who was really an amazing influence on my life,” Brady told the radio show (per Insider). “It’s a little emotional. It was a very vulnerable time in my life. I was kind of questioning who I was because I had gone from California to Michigan. I was a long way from home. It was a different environment.”
Harden showed Brady that there was always a light at the end of the tunnel, and nobody could find it except Brady, himself. Brady took this to heart and let it guide the rest of his career.
When Tom Brady became a superstar, Harden’s name spread further than it ever had. While he had worked with former college stars like Jalen Rose, Brady was his biggest success.
Harden went on to work with Olympians like Michael Phelps. Harden became a go-to name for people who want to get past their mental hurdles to become great at what they do.
While most won’t be the next Tom Brady, Harden’s work isn’t about becoming a superstar in any specific facet of life. He instead wants to help people become the best versions of themselves and not let their mental hurdles detract from whatever their ultimate goals may be.
Brady is still playing football over 20 years later, and he still credits Harden with getting him off his feet and working even harder toward his ultimate goals of greatness.
All stats courtesy of Sports Reference