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BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady has just about done it all.
He earned Super Bowl MVP honors when he was just 24 years old in his second season in the NFL. He won two more titles and another Super Bowl MVP in the following three years. He won two NFL MVP Awards, set the record for touchdowns in a season, led the Patriots to a 16-0 regular-season record and continues to be one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the sport. So you might think one of those accomplishments would register as Brady’s proudest achievement, but that wouldn’t be accurate.
On the morning of the Patriots’ preseason game against the Detroit Lions, Brady spent time visiting the University of Michigan football team. Brady, who quarterbacked Michigan from 1996-99, received praise from current head coach Brady Hoke, who said Brady overcame adversity in college with his work ethic and his pride in performance. It was then that Brady told the current Michigan team his proudest football accomplishment.
“I didn’t have an easy experience. I didn’t come in as a top-rated recruit, I didn’t’ come in with the opportunity to play right away. I had to earn it,” an animated Brady told the room. “And do you know what the greatest honor I’ve ever received as a player is? In my fourth year and my fifth year, I was named team captain. That, to this day, is the single greatest achievement I’ve ever had as a football player.”
Brady obviously took that leadership role seriously, as he went on to great success with the New England Patriots, where he’s also been named a team captain since 2002. Still, after all those wins and all those records, it was being named captain at Michigan that stands out to him.
“Because the men in this room chose me to lead their team, and these were my best friends,” Brady said. “They were the guys that knew that I liked to work, that knew that I loved football, that knew that I loved to play, that knew that I wanted to be the quarterback for Michigan. And all the lessons that I learned here on State Street and in the Big House, that’s still what I bring to practice today.
“And after 14 years, I love the game more than I’ve ever loved it. But where do I learn the love for the game? Where did I learn to practice? Where did I learn to compete? It was sitting in the same chairs that you guys are sitting in today.”
Brady was asked about his comments following the Patriots’ preseason loss to the Lions on Thursday night, and he seemed to be under the impression that his words to the Michigan players weren’t supposed to leave the room.
“What I said was very private to those players,” Brady said with a smirk. “I’ve had a lot of great achievements both collegiately and professionally, and I’m very blessed, and I’ve had a lot of great things like that. Being a captain here is really a satisfying thing for me.”
In a video posted on Michigan’s website, Brady is shown shaking hands with the players as they make their way out of the meeting room, the quarterback no doubt hopeful that he made an impact on their football futures. Few of them (well, realistically, none of them) will ever get to experience football success that even comes close to Brady’s. They probably won’t be named Super Bowl MVP, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but hey, they’ll always have that handshake.