HOUSTON — Few NFL players put a greater emphasis on health and fitness than Tom Brady does, and that focus has gone a long way toward morphing the New England Patriots quarterback from a gangly, marginally athletic sixth-round draft pick into arguably the greatest QB of all time.
Speaking from a podium during the lead-up to Super Bowl LI, the 39-year-old reiterated his belief he’s in better shape now than he was when he entered the league in 2000.
“I’d crush my combine today from when I was 22,” Brady said Tuesday. “But that isn’t saying much because I think I had the worst combine of any quarterback in history.”
Obviously, Brady’s ghastly performance at the NFL Scouting Combine didn’t prevent him from becoming a wildly successful pro quarterback. He’ll play in his seventh Super Bowl on Sunday and likely would have been the NFL MVP this season had it not been for his next opponent, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who’s favored to win the league’s highest individual honor.
“Your body, for an athlete, is what your asset is,” Brady said. “If your body breaks down and you can’t perform, you have no job. So I’ve tried to learn the right ways to take care of your body — nutrition, hydration, the type of workouts that I do, the pliability work that I do. I think it is the reason why I’m still playing.”
To back up his combine claim, Brady pointed to his improved mobility this season. Despite playing in just 12 games, he posted his highest rushing yard total since 2011, though he strayed from the pocket less frequently after suffering a thigh injury in Week 10.
“I think I’ve improved in certain areas, and I’m still looking to make some improvements,” Brady said. “Because I’ve learned how to train, and I’d like to continue to try to make more mobile plays, extend plays in the pocket so I can make more plays on third down. I’d been good for us this year until I hurt my leg, but I’m feeling pretty good now.”
Brady co-owns the TB12 Sports Therapy Center — located just a stone’s throw from Gillette Stadium — with Alex Guerrero, his body coach and longtime friend. The QB said he hopes to share his wellness philosophy with young athletes, allowing them to enjoy longer careers and more active lifestyles.
“I feel very strongly about those things, and I talk about them a lot,” Brady said. “I’m sure the people in Boston hear about them a lot. But I’d love to pass those things on to future athletes. Because when I was young, I wanted to work really hard, too. But sometimes when you work hard at the wrong things, you get better at getting worse. I’ve learned the right way, and hopefully, I can pass those on to the kids that are growing up who want to pursue a career in athletics and for a lot of people who like to be active but can’t do it because their body hurts.
“That’s something that’s always been very important to me, and I feel very passionate talking about it at times. But I’m really just sharing the experiences I’ve had and trying to pass those on.”
Thumbnail photo via Michael Madrid/USA TODAY Sports Images