Fabulous at 40!
Ready or not football season is here and leading the Patriots into his 18th season is none other than the G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time) Tom Brady. Close to 10,000 fans serenaded Brady with "Happy Birthday" on August 3 when he turned 40. Think about this - for many Patriots fans Tom Brady is the only Patriots QB they've known in their entire lives. Almost unfathomable how so many teams go through multiple quarterbacks each year.
Tom Brady's first season with the Patriots was the year 2000. Gas was \$1.26 a gallon, a first class postage stamp went for 33 cents, a dozen eggs set you back 89 cents. Rick Pitino was still coaching the Celtics and Antoine Walker was firing away three pointers and doing his wiggle , the Red Sox first baseman was Brian Daubach, Jose Offerman was at second and Carl Everett patrolled center field at Fenway. Don Sweeney was still in uniform for the Bruins and Jason Allison was the Bruins leading scorer. The Presidential Election between George Bush and Al Gore was decided by hanging chads and the US Supreme Court....The teams, the players, the times and those sitting in the oval office have all changed - AND So has Tom Brady - he's performing better than ever!
What hasn't changed? Tom Brady is still the same nice guy who started out as the fourth string quarterback and is now arguably the greatest NFL QB of all time. I pulled up an old depth chart from a December game against the Buffalo Bills in 2000, Brady's rookie season. The quarterbacks were listed in this order. 1) Drew Bledsoe 2) Michael Bishop 3) John Friesz 4) Tom Brady. There were only a handful of games remaining in the season and Brady was fourth on the depth chart which meant there was little chance he would move up when the 2001 season opened. I remember sitting in a production meeting before the first preseason game in August of 2001. Don Criqui asked Bill Belichick which player impressed him the most during the off season. Belichick's reply, "Tom Brady." "Which player has improved the most since last season?" "Tom Brady." "Which player has the most potential to make an impact this season?" "Tom Brady." The questions continued and the answer to each one was "Tom Brady." Now in these meetings Bill Belichick doesn't give away very much information as you would imagine, but during these preseason sessions he was giving all of us a glimpse into the next 17 seasons. Belichick explained that he had a reserved parking spot out front for the player who works the hardest in off season programs. The winner? Brady. Some months the spot would be for perfect attendance at off season meetings. The winner? Tom Brady. Former Patriot Rodney Harrison used to arrive for off season conditioning at 6:00 a.m. Brady would already be inside and say "good afternoon Rodney." So Harrison showed up the next day at 5:45 and received the same "good afternoon." Harrison pulled in the next day at 5:30 only to be greeted with the same zinger. Bill Belichick has a pet phrase that always stuck with me, "The Price For Success Is Always Paid in Advance." Tom Brady has been paying in advance since the summer of 2000. He wasn't born The G.O.A.T, he made himself the G.O.A.T by being the first one in and the last one out. There never is a balance due with Tom Brady, he's always paid in advance - even at the age of 40!