Brady, a three-time Super Bowl champion, has proven calm, cool and collected under pressure throughout his 15-year NFL career. It’s a stark contrast from the quarterback’s other, oft-seen on-field persona as an intense, fiery and emotional competitor.
“He’s so competitive. That’s the first thing I always see,” Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. “And everybody always asks me, ‘How is Tom?’ I don’t think there’s anybody else in this locker room that is more competitive than Tom. I don’t care if it’s a conversation, I don’t care if it’s a practice, I don’t care if it’s 7-on-7s, I don’t care if it’s games, I don’t care if it’s in the film room. He wants to be at his best. He wants everybody else around him to be at their best.”
Sunday’s showdown with the Indianapolis Colts will mark Brady’s ninth AFC Championship Game. He’s advanced to five Super Bowls, and he’s widely considered one of the most clutch — and best — quarterbacks in NFL history.
With that reputation comes respect. With respect comes trust. And with trust comes the understanding that Brady, while not always right, typically knows what he’s talking about. There’s a method to No. 12’s madness.
“A lot of things he does, you don’t realize how it affects everyone around him,” Wilfork said. “He doesn’t have to say much. When he’s here in this building, he’s working. When he’s home, he’s working. And a lot of guys don’t understand that.
“That’s the type of person that he is. He’s going to give you everything he has. I don’t care how he’s feeling, mentally or physically. He’s going to put his best on that field. You have to love that, you have to respect that. And that’s what I love and respect about Tom.”
Brady’s leadership style — docile in some instances, over the top in others — certainly is unique. But there’s no denying the Patriots feed off their quarterback’s combination of energy and wherewithal, even if it means receiving an earful on the sidelines, in the locker room or on the practice field.
“After playing with him for seven years now, you just know that Tom’s a competitor and he wants to do well,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “He’s going to do whatever he can, whatever is in his power, to encourage us to play better, to motivate himself to play better and, at the end of the day, for us to win the game.
“Whatever that takes. If that’s him yelling at us and going crazy, then so be it.”
Brady’s demeanor undoubtedly is polarizing outside of New England. Few quarterbacks across the league have a tendency to mix it up with opposing defenders or display the type of emotion that the Patriots’ signal-caller exhibits. It’d be unwise to misinterpret Brady’s unmatched passion for blind exuberance, though. The 10-time Pro Bowler is well-aware of his surroundings at all times.
“I can always find a way to bring it back to balance, however I need to be able to. I don’t think I ever lose track of plays or things that I need to do to help coordinate our offense when we’re on the field,” Brady said. “I just think the emotional part is a really important part for me, and I think that’s always been a part of the way that I play.
“It’s a lot of fun, what we get to do for a living, so certainly to get to this moment and play in this game, there’s nothing better.”
Brady has evolved as a player since being drafted in the sixth round in 2000. The Patriots have evolved as a team, experiencing changes both offensively and defensively. One constant has been Brady’s leadership.
Another constant has been success.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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