The limitless life of Tom Brady


TOM BRADY WAS ALWAYS BLESSED with a great arm. He has accomplished so much in his 22 years in the NFL that the basic act of throwing the ball is easy to overlook. He always felt confident in his arm, something he could always rely on, and he gave the ball life when he threw it, out of an awkward and gangly body. It was evident from a young age. At football practice one day at San Mateo’s Junipero Serra High School almost 30 years ago, it was windy, and receivers were dropping passes. Brady dialed up the heat, spirals cutting through wind, the California kid immune to elements before he had ever played in the snow and cold of Michigan and New England.

It didn’t help. Receivers kept dropping the ball. Brady lost his patience, a perfectionist regardless of venue or stakes, and after practice, he was struggling to calm down, complaining about things he couldn’t control, a self-described “whiner” who looked to blame others before himself. His coach, Tom MacKenzie, was having none of it.

“You need to be more patient,” MacKenzie said.

MacKenzie had what Brady lacked — perspective — but whatever he hoped to share with his young quarterback failed to sink in. It wasn’t what Brady wanted to hear. The coach took a deep breath.

“Look around at everybody else on this field,” he told Brady. “You know what? There’s a very good chance that 10 years from now, everybody else on this field will no longer be playing. You’re still going to be playing.

“You need to understand that you are one of a kind.”


MOMENTS LIKE THAT are lore only in retrospect, and so it’s worth asking now, as he is reportedly set to walk away after the greatest career for a quarterback in NFL history: Did Brady ever truly understand that he was one of a kind? Does he allow himself to understand it now, at the end?



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