Tom Brady has had an unforgettable NFL career.
Part of the reason for that success is Brady doesn’t forget when he believes others have tried to hold him back.
That’s not to say the Patriots quarterback holds grudges. Instead, he uses those instances when it would be easy to hold a grudge as motivation.
Case in point, the letter Brady received from the NFL notifying him of his four-game suspension for his role in the “Deflategate” controversy.
You would think Brady would have burned that letter within seconds of receiving it. Instead, it sits in Brady’s home, carefully preserved among a number of binders he has with memories from each of his season in the league.
The first episode of the new documentary “Tom vs. Time” — available only on Facebook — Brady takes viewers into his home to see those binders. From one of them he pulls out that letter, and treats it almost the same way a proud college freshman shows off his or her acceptance letter from a university.
“I still keep this,” Brady said. “My suspension letter that I received. Just a nice way to remember.”
He added with a grin, “Thank you.”
This is far from the first time Brady has gotten some joy in getting the last laugh. For instance, he expected he might be taken as high as the second round of the 2000 NFL draft. Instead, he wasn’t taken until the sixth round — the 199th overall pick.
Not surprisingly, Brady can still recite the names of the five quarterbacks picked before him. Truth be told, he might be the only person alive who remembers some of these obscure names, such as first-rounder Chad Pennington, third-rounders Giovanni Carmazzi (who never even played in an NFL game) and Chris Redman, fifth-rounder Tee Martin and sixth-rounders Marc Bulger and Spergon Wynn.
So Brady will never forget being the focal point of the infamous Deflategate scandal, and he definitely has used it for motivation.
The Patriots won Super Bowl LI despite Brady missing the first four games of the 2016 season due to the suspension. And he’s played at an MVP level this season, leading New England to another 13-win season and the cusp of Brady’s sixth Super Bowl title.
When the Patriots rallied to beat Atlanta in last season’s Super Bowl, many people could not wait to see Brady, coach Bill Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft receive the Lombardi Trophy from Commissioner Roger Goodell to see if any of the Patriots’ braintrust would rub the victory in Goodell’s face.
No such drama ensued, especially from Brady, who says he treated his suspension like he treats everything else where he feels challenged.
“When you subject yourself to a lot of criticism, what I’ve learned from myself is, I don’t want to give my power away to other people by letting my own emotions be subjected to what their thoughts or opinions are,” Brady said in an interview with Sports Illustrated shortly after the Super Bowl win. “So if someone calls me something, that’s their problem. It’s not my problem. I’m not going to give away my power.
Brady fought the case for 18 months, ultimately dropping the case after an appeals court upheld the four-game ban.
“There’s only one fight I can win and that is how well I play,” Brady said. “That’s the only one I can control, because I tried to play for 18 months and it didn’t work. So finally I said … ‘My team is going to go out and play great, I know they are going to, and when I come back, I am just going to do what I’ve always done.”
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