Who Is Tom Brady?
Tom Brady looked up at the clock on the stadium scoreboard. He saw that his team, the New England Patriots, had just ninety seconds left in Super Bowl XXXVI (36). He had to lead them down the field to try to win the game, which was tied 17–-17. Tom called the play and clapped his hands in the huddle. “Let’s go!” he yelled.
Fans in the stands and watching at home cheered as Tom completed a pass to J. R. Redmond. Tom then made four more successful passes. The Patriots got closer and closer to the end zone. Finally, they reached the thirty--yard line. Only seven seconds remained on the clock. Tom then watched nervously from the sidelines as kicker Adam Vinatieri tried a forty--eight--yard field goal. Adam made it! New England won 20–-17! Tom and the Patriots were Super Bowl champions! He was also named the game’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Tom had come a long way to reach that Super Bowl, the first of a record seven that he would go on to win. He had not started playing football until ninth grade. He sat on the bench in both high school and college, waiting for his chance. Even after playing well in college, he had waited impatiently as National Football League (NFL) teams chose six other quarterbacks ahead of him in the NFL Draft. So when he finally got his big chance with the Patriots in 2001, he made the most of it.
Since then, Tom Brady has become the best quarterback in NFL history. He has thrown more touchdown passes than any other player. Tom’s seven Super Bowl titles number more than any NFL team! He is known as the GOAT—-the Greatest of All Time. In more than twenty seasons, he has amazed teammates and opponents, and thrilled fans. He even switched teams at the age of forty--three to win his seventh Super Bowl. From the bench to the top of the sport, Tom has had the greatest career in NFL history.
But how did Tom become the GOAT? Chapter 1: Tommy
Thomas Brady Jr. was born August 3, 1977, in San Mateo, California. His family and friends called him Tommy.
Tommy’s parents, Tom Sr. and Galynn, both loved sports. His three older sisters were all top athletes. Maureen was a softball pitcher who won 111 games in high school, and would become an All--American player in college. Julie was a college soccer player. Nancy was a high--school softball star.
Tom Sr. encouraged all of his children to compete: “Everything we did—-and I mean everything, [even] running home from church—-everything was a competition. I guess it made things really fun, at least for the winner.”
As the youngest, Tommy lost a lot—and he didn’t like it. Once while golfing with his dad, Tommy tossed his club in anger after a bad shot. He was sent to wait in the car while his dad finished playing.
Tommy started playing baseball when he was very young, taking part in T--ball and youth league games. At first, his parents prevented him from playing football because they thought it was too rough. That was okay with Tommy—-for a while.
“I loved baseball,” he said. “The high school I went to was a good baseball school, but once I started playing football, that’s when I started to love it.”
As much as Tommy loved football, he didn’t play very often as a freshman at Junipero Serra High School. He watched from the bench as his team lost eight of the nine games it played (the other game ended in a tie). In his second season, he became the team’s quarterback because the player in that position decided to quit the team.
Tommy quickly saw that he had to put in some effort to remain the starting quarterback. He began working out even after scheduled football practices. His family would see him for dinner, but then he often left to go to a gym. After not doing well in a footwork training drill called “five dots,” he drew his own five dots on his garage floor so he could do the drill at home and improve. He also created a jump--rope workout that his high--school coach later taught to other Serra students.
Even as Tommy tried to outdo his athletic sisters, they were among his biggest supporters. High-school friend and teammate John Kirby remembered, “After every game you’d see the entire family, all his sisters, parents, and even some aunts and uncles. They really stuck together.”
On the field, Tommy was starting to show the personality that would eventually help him win Super Bowls. “Whenever he was in the huddle, he always seemed in control,” said Kirby. “He never panicked. He was always motivational, not negative.”
Tommy threw thirty--three touchdown passes over his final two seasons in high school, and his team won eleven of twenty games. He was rated one of the top six quarterbacks in California. A 1994 TV interviewer said Brady was one of “the names you’ll be hearing about for years to come.” Tommy was good enough as a catcher on the Serra baseball team that he was drafted by the Montreal Expos! But Tommy decided that football would be his best path to success.
For college, he had a chance to stay near his family by going to the University of California at Berkeley. But the University of Michigan also recruited him to play. Tommy chose to make the journey to Michigan. He knew this would take him away from his close--knit family, but he wanted to prove himself at the sport’s top level.
Copyright © 2021 by Penguin Random House LLC.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.