Tom Brady is obsessed with winning, even in a way that some of the most competitive people on earth are obsessed with winning. He’ll be 42 years old this season and just as motivated to win his seventh Super Bowl as he was his first.
It’s one thing to know all this, and another to hear it from those who know him.
Someone who knows him is former NFL tight end Martellus Bennett. Bennett retired from the NFL after the 2017 campaign, but he was a member of the 2016 Patriots, the team that rallied from down 28-3 to stun the Atlanta Falcons.
“One day we were at practice and the defense is crushing us,” Bennett said. “We can’t complete any passes. Sometimes they do the install and it’s just the right install. So we come into the meeting and Bill (Belichick) always had bad plays of the day and he’s just calling out Tom, ‘We have quarterbacks that can’t make throws.’ I’m like ‘This is Tom Brady. He can make all the throws.’
“I’ve never seen coaches really call out the quarterbacks in group meetings. I sit right behind Tom because I’m the quarterback whisperer. I like to whisper in their ear when I see things. So, after we break that meeting, I go to finish my workout or whatever and Tom is in there doing dropbacks. He’s just throwing dropbacks. He’s pissed off. The next day we go 33 for 33 or something like that at practice, and from then I was just like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna be great.’ I’ve never seen anyone that didn’t shut down. He was like, ‘Alright, I’m gonna show you tomorrow.’ He just picked them apart. Take this, take that.”
This is the same type of story you heard about the other defining player-coach relationship of this century, Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. As with those Spurs, the effect here isn’t on Brady, it’s on the rest of the team. If the No. 1 player on the team can accept coaching, what’s the 22nd player’s excuse? Or the 38th? Or the 53rd?
But that question can be expounded upon even further. Tom Brady is the most accomplished player in the history of professional football. And if he’s still willing to accept coaching, what’s anyone‘s excuse?