Tom Brady: precision passer, quintessential leader. Big hitter?
That last description certainly doesn’t come to mind when discussing the New England Patriots quarterback, whose fans cringe every time he lumbers out of the pocket. But it turns out Brady’s football career includes more than just tossing touchdowns.
The San Mateo, Calif., native, who was a star QB at Junípero Serra High School in San Mateo, CA, also played linebacker for a brief spell, according to his high school teammate, John Kirby.
“When you’re younger and you’re a quarterback, they make you do defensive stuff too,” Kirby told Boston.com in a recent interview. “I can remember freshman and sophomore year when we’d have to switch and do defensive drills. I’d do defensive back stuff and he’d be with the linebackers. He was a little stockier than most of the receivers, so they put him at linebacker.”
Brady, who helped the Patriots beat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in his return home to the Bay Area, was a pretty big guy even back then, listed at 6-foot-4, 212 pounds during his senior year. And apparently he knew how to use that big frame.
“I can remember that he could hit,” Kirby said. “He could hit people. I remember him going up against our fullbacks, and he could lay some wood. He wasn’t a pushover.”
Unfortunately, Brady’s recruiting tapes don’t include defensive highlights. But the first play in this clip below is proof enough that he packed a punch.
According to Kirby, Brady stopped playing linebacker once he won the starting QB job on the varsity team. But apparently it wasn’t of his own volition.
“There’s a part of him that probably loved defense and loved hitting people, because that’s what I saw at times,” Kirby recalled. “It was kind of what the coaches saw in him as a quarterback. At some point they said, ‘No, no, no. No more defense. We don’t want you getting hurt.'”
Once a competitor, always a competitor.
Thumbnail photo via Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports Images