By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s not often that Tom Brady is less famous, rich and powerful than the person who is interviewing him. But it’s not often that Tom Brady gets interviewed by Oprah Winfrey.
The quarterback sat down with the world-famous TV host and media mogul for a conversation on “SuperSoul Sunday” on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Brady is no fool and knows what kind of influence someone like Oprah can have when it comes to selling books, and so he used the opportunity as a way to introduce an entirely new demographic to “The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance.”
The interview was wide-ranging, with Brady talking about his family, his feelings, and his career. If you didn’t catch the full interview, here are the most pertinent parts as they relate to New England sports fans. There’s also some bits from the SuperSoul podcast, which was a bit of an extended cut of the interview that made it to television.
Is Tom beefing with Belichick?
It’s dominated the storylines surrounding the Patriots for the better part of six months. Are Bill Belichick and Tom Brady feuding?
We’ll never get the complete answer, but Brady shed a little light on the relationship when asked directly about any potential negative feelings toward the head coach.
“Um … no,” Brady said after a pregnant pause when asked if something is going on between him and Belichick. “I mean, I love him. I love that he’s an incredible coach and mentor for me. He’s pushed me in a lot of ways. Like everything, we don’t agree on absolutely everything. But that’s relationships.”
The “pushing” part is interesting. Perhaps Brady is interpreting Belichick’s tough love as just the newest way the masterful coach is continuing to get the most out of Brady on the field. Considering Brady likes to find the positive in everything, it’s reasonable that he might have reached such a conclusion.
Stop calling Tom the GOAT
A lot of Patriots fans like to say that Tom Brady is the greatest of all time, or the GOAT for short. Because he is.
But you’re going to have to cease and desist on any and all GOAT talk. Per Tom’s own wishes.
“I don’t like it. I don’t like when people say it. I don’t like it at all,” Brady said of the GOAT converation. “I don’t feel that way. I’m not attached to that feeling. I don’t care whether people think that or not. I want to be the best I can be. I know when I go out there it’s not to compare myself to this guy or that guy. Everyone’s good. Everyone plays good.
“I still feel like I’m in it. I still feel like there’s more to be accomplished. I was practicing the last two days, working on my technique, my fundamentals, all the things with my training that … I still feel like I can be better, be a percentage better. … I know my strengths, I’ve improved some of the weaknesses, and I still think I want to go out there and compete and play with a lot of 22-year-olds. It’s still a lot of fun.”
So if you catch Tom on the street and want to throw that man a compliment, don’t say, “Hey, Tom, you’re the greatest of all time.” Just say, “Hey, Tom, you were better this week than you were three weeks ago!” He will very much appreciate that you noticed.
Oprah also asked Brady if he has an “insatiable drive.”
“Yeah. I do. To be the best I can be,” he said. “Not to be the best what anyone else thinks. Just to be the best I can be. Why am I still playing now? Because I feel like I can still do it. And I think I’d look back at something that I’d love to do, and why should I stop? I talked about that with my wife all the time, you could ask her tonight. She’ll be like, ‘What more do you want?’ And I’ll say, ‘Because I love it.’ It’s just, I love it.”
Tom Brady is still bothered by losing Super Bowl XLII
You may be a die-hard Patriots fan, and you may still occasionally lose sleep over the missed opportunity that was Super Bowl XLII. Well, you have company in Tom Brady.
“When you lose … In 2007, this was 11 years ago, we had — I think — one of the greatest football teams in the history of football. Went undefeated, got to the Super Bowl, we played the Giants, and we lost,” Brady said. “It was a month before I really felt back to myself. It was a nightmare. I woke up the next morning, I said, ‘That didn’t happen. There’s no way that happened.'”
Though more than a decade has passed, Brady sounds more bothered by that loss than he is by the most recent Super Bowl loss to the Eagles.
“I was still dressed in my clothes and I saw my wife and I saw my three kids,” Brady said. “And my little girl and my son Benny were crying. And I went over and they said, ‘Daddy, we don’t like the Eagles.’ And I said, ‘You know what? You don’t always win. You don’t always win. You try your best and you do the best you can do.’ And I think because you have the kids, it’s not about … you’d love to win. You always want to win. But the sun’s gonna come up the next day, and you’re going to be taking the kids to school the next day. And in some ways, this year was easier for me than it has been in the past. And it’s not that I don’t want to win the same, it’s just, there’s other really important things as well.”
Don’t get it twisted, though. Just because Brady’s better at accepting losses now doesn’t mean he’s not bothered. He said he was a wreck for a month after Super Bowl XLII. The wiser, older Tom Brady after losing Super Bowl LII was only a mess for two or three weeks. Progress!
“This year it was probably two or three weeks,” Brady said. “Not as bad, not as bad. You’re just a little down, you’re a little depressed. You wish the outcome were different. I think what you think about is, like I said, it’d be like climbing a mountain. That’s what I guess the correlation is. You start at this place and you work so hard, as the season goes it just gets tougher because you get higher on the mountain and more people are falling off. It’s such a physical sport. And imagine getting 15 feet from the top of the mountain and [crashing noise]. You tumble all the way back down with nothing to show for it. And then you’re just like every other team because only one team gets to win it. But, it’s good perspective, too. How do you appreciate all the wins if you don’t lose?”
Clarification on infamous lamenting in ‘Tom Vs. Time’
Much has been made in the Boston sports media over Brady’s final installment of “Tom Vs. Time,” in which he asked himself the question, “What are we doing this for?” Brady said you need to have an answer and have an answer with conviction in order to keep playing. That contemplation has led many to wonder if Brady is much closer to retirement than initially believed.
But Brady offered some comments to Oprah that added some clarity to that line of thinking.
“I put a lot into it,” Brady said of his career. “I put a lot into it. When I’ve got decisions in the course of the day, a lot of my mind always says, how is it going to help my career? So when you fail in your career, you look at all those decisions in your life and you go, is it worth it? Is it worth it to miss things with your family? Is it worth it to be as disciplined as I am with my diet? Why don’t I just give a [crap] less? But I don’t think that’s my personality, because I do really care. When I look at my teammates, I want them to know that I care.”
That’s what he meant all along in that docu-series, but this was a bit more of an expansive explanation.
Expiration date on career
Brady is going to turn 41 years old in August, so clearly he’s closer to the end of his career than he was two or three years ago. Nevertheless, this is the quote that’s getting the most attention after the interview.
“I think about it more now than I used to. I think I’m seeing that there’s definitely an end coming sooner rather than later,” he said.
Oprah asked if that meant age 43, or age 45?
“As long as I’m still loving it. As long as I’m loving the training and preparation and willing to make the commitment,” he said. “I think what I alluded to a lot in the docu-series was there’s a lot of other things happening in my life too. I do have kids that I love, and I don’t want to be the dad that’s not there, driving my kids to their games. My kids have brought a great perspective in my life, because kids just want the attention. You better be there and be available to them.”
Difference between winning and losing
Tom Brady will long be remembered for being a maniacal competitor. Though he can sit calmly and composed for an interview, his competitive spirit on Sundays is legendary.
So, Oprah asked Brady about some of the differences between winning and losing.
“There were a few moments in both of the last ones that we won where it’s out-of-body [experience],” Brady said of Super Bowl wins over Seattle and Atlanta. “And then when you lose, you wish you were out-of-body. Because you’re like, ‘This is a nightmare.’ But you’d rather get there and lose than never get there. And it’s hard to get there.”
What does winning feel like it?
“It’s just complete joy in the present,” he answered. “You’ve got everyone there, all your loved ones, family, friends, and you’re just on top of the world.”
What does winning teach you?
“I never feel like I win. I feel like we win. And that’s why I chose a team sport,” Brady said. “We couldn’t do it if we didn’t have each other. We couldn’t do it if we didn’t have the support of everyone else. So the winning for me comes in the joy of experiencing it with other people.”
What has losing taught you?
“I would say that I hate to lose. I hate to lose. I really just hate to lose,” he answered. “It’s hard to be so critical on yourself when you’re winning. You’re figuring out every single decision you made when you lose. Every thought, every action, every step, and you try not to repeat those.”
Winning the Super Bowl? Pretty sweet
On the theme of winning, Brady was asked how long the joy lasts when you win a Super Bowl.
“If you win the Super Bowl, months. It goes on and on and on and on,” he said. “And you really just feel good until you really are into the next season, in some ways, because you’re celebrating. Yeah, long time.”
Not preachy on the diet
Tom Brady’s got a strict diet. Perhaps you had heard?
And while he and the diet get a lot of press, Brady isn’t standing on a soapbox and telling everyone that they must follow every single aspect of his personalized diet. He’s not even telling you that you need a diet. You’re beautiful just the way you are, people.
“I’m an athlete. I depend wholly on my body. My body is my asset. I can’t go out there on the field and eat fast food and expect it to perform. If I don’t have this, if it breaks down, I can’t play,” he said. “Over the course of 15 years [my diet] came to this. It’s hard to say for someone, hey do all these 30 things and make a difference. Just start slow, start with what works for you. Maybe start cutting out a few things, but only if you want. I mean, it’s everyone’s life. They get to choose what they want.”
And in a shocker of all shockers, Brady gets down with an occasional French cruller or Boston creme.
“No, I do, on occasion,” Brady said when asked if he ever eats doughnuts. “With my kids I was in New York last weekend, and I said what do you guys want to do? And they said they want to get doughnuts. Well let’s go. And I think that’s what I want people to understand, too. There’s discipline, but not like, over the top.”
Tom Brady: Doughnut eater. Who knew?
No satisfaction for Roger Goodell
In case you missed it, the commissioner of the National Football League spent two years trying to nail Brady as a dirty rotten cheater and a lousy no-good liar. It was absurd.
The long-lasting saga finally ended when Brady waved the white flag and accepted his four-game suspension instead of appealing to the Supreme Court. Yes, that Supreme Court. That’s how ridiculous that situation was.
Nevertheless, if Roger Goodell was hoping to see Brady sadly recall the pain and the sting of being forced to miss four games in the 2016 season, then the commissioner was sorely disappointed when he no doubt carved out an hour of his Father’s Day to watch this interview.
“Just too much anxiety. Too much, I realized I couldn’t win,” Brady said when asked why he ended his fight. “And it was divided attention. And I was tired of that. I was tired of waking up and having a call with someone from the players’ association. I just said, you know what, I’m going to use this as an opportunity. I had the month of September off for the first time in — I would’ve been 16, so 21 years. I was like I’m going to take advantage of this. And the first thing I did, my wife and I and our kids we flew out to see my parents. And my mom was just starting treatment for cancer. And I said we’re going golfing, we’re going to go to Pebble Beach. And we never went on a honeymoon, my wife and I, so we said look, we’re going to go to Italy in September. And so I said, man, that was the best month off I ever had! In some ways, it was a great experience in my life. I think you look back on those experiences — and that was a really tough experience in my life.”
THE BEST MONTH OF HIS LIFE! A GREAT EXPERIENCE!
Oprah asked Brady if he’d do anything differently if he could go back and change anything in his DeflateGate fight.
“Mm-mm,” he quickly said. “No.”
Football has to be physical
Oprah asked Brady about concussions. He said he’s aware of the developments in research and he believes the NFL and all sports leagues are doing a good job of making changes to rules and equipment. That being said, Brady said there’s only so much that can be safeguarded in a sport as violent as football.
“It’s also football, too. People aren’t going to watch if it was two-hand touch. Let’s be real,” he said. “So we like football, we like the physical nature of the sport. And what can you do — and my belief, I’m an athlete, and I’ve seen all these guys that have come before, and I say, OK how can I live a more healthy lifestyle so that I can still play contact sports and I can still deal with the impacts of the sport and how can I deal with those at the most proactive way possible?”
“Thank God for sports.”
Tom Brady? Big time sports guy. Just like you.
“As an adult, I could see how people work so hard over the course of the week and they just can’t wait to get to the weekend to relax and sit in front of a TV with friends and have this social event and, by the way, you have a game on, you get to cheer for them,” Brady said. “I think everyone gets to participate. Thank God for sports.”
Sounds like a fella who slugs light beer down at the old watering hole. Just a regular Joe Sports Fan over here.
Jim Gray was there
Is Jim Gray an official part of the Tom Brady PR team? Why else would he be there? Is he close pals with Oprah? Did he just parachute down wearing headphones that he purchased on an American Airlines flight in 1997? DOES GISELE EVEN KNOW HE’S BEHIND HER?!
But really. Why’s he there? And why was his presence not mentioned? Did he think the interview was full of “cliche-ridden namby-pamby bull poop“? And how much did he pay for those sweet headphones when he got them at Radio Shack?
Response to infamous scouting report
By now, you’ve almost certainly seen the pre-draft scouting report on a young quarterback out of Michigan named Tom Brady. “Very poised and composed. Smart and alert. Can read coverages. Good accuracy and touch. Produces in big spots and in big games. Has some Brian Griese in him and is a gamer. Generally plays within himself. Team leader. … Poor build. Very skinny and narrow. … Looks a little frail and lacks great physical stature and strength. Can get pushed down more easily than you’d like. Lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush. Lacks a really strong arm. Can’t drive the ball down the field and does not throw a really tight spiral. System-type player who can get exposed if he must ad-lib and do things on his own. Could make it in the right system but will not be for everyone.”
Oprah read the scouting report out of Brady’s book, and rather than gloat about proving everyone wrong, Brady said those evaluations were spot-on.
“When I hear that, they were true! All those things, absolutely, at that time were true,” Brady said. “I think I was a bit naive to some of those things, because I just had in my mind, like, ‘Oh, cool, I went to school and I want to play pro football and I’m going to get picked and of course I’m going to play. You crazy? Why would you not think that I’m going to be able to do that?’ And everyone else was like, ‘You should really think about another job,’ or, ‘You should put together a resume.’ And I was like, ‘Why would I put together a resume? I’m gonna go play professional football.'”
How Brady became Brady
Following up on the scouting report talk, Brady discussed what was necessary for him to become a starting NFL quarterback who would go on to be the most accomplished QB in the sport’s history.
“I wasn’t blessed with a lot of things that they wrote about. Like, what do they look for? They want someone tall, they want someone fast, someone strong, they want someone that can have all these physical traits, but I didn’t have all of those physical traits at the time,” Brady said. “So I had to work to develop other traits — leadership, perseverance, determination, work ethic. And I think some of those things were a part of me. Discipline. And then you get to be a professional athlete, and everyone’s really talented. Well, what other skills have you developed? You can’t just rely anymore on being the most gifted, being the most talented, because, by the way, everyone was. So what other things have you been able to develop?
“I was fortunate enough to be in very competitive environments in high school and college where I had to work on those things, and then I got to my pro team and I was like, I felt this internally but I could bring other things,” Brady continued. “I’m not going to bring the typical what you’re looking for, but if you give me time to develop, I can develop into something that could be the great leader of a team and be very disciplined and set the tone and great work ethic. And those are things that I enjoyed then, and I still enjoy those things now.”
Inside the historic Super Bowl comeback
Brady talked about what it was like to engineer the famous 25-point comeback in Super Bowl LI against the Falcons.
“I’m first thinking like, what the hell? How did we get ourselves in this situation,” he said. “It was close to being over. It was one or two plays from being over. … I think you can’t score 25 points at a time. You can’t overcome these huge deficits in the blink of an eye. We looked at each other, we had a lot of trust in each other, a lot of belief in each other — we got to that Super Bowl, it’s hard to get to. And we looked at each other and we said, ‘We gotta get one drive, one scoring drive.’ And then once we got the drive we looked at the defense and said, ‘One stop, just one stop.’ They got the stop and we got back out there, and we said let’s go, we got a shot. And then we scored again, and then you get the momentum and it’s on your side.”
Most teams don’t come back from a 28-3 deficit with the whole world watching, but Brady made it sound quite simple
“Forget about what happened. Move on from that. And think about the positive,” he said. “What can we do? How do we get the ball and gain some yards and score some points?”
Brady also said that he’s gained a much greater perspective on winning with the most recent two championships than he had with the first three early in his career.
“[Super Bowl LI] was great because I had the success early in my career. We won three Super Bowls in four years, I didn’t even know what happened in my life,” he said. “I came out of college and I was on this great team and we won three Super Bowls and everyone was like, ‘This is unbelievable!’ And I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ Just, everything was happening. And there was all these things to do and places to go and opportunities and I was so young, I didn’t have the perspective to really appreciate what I was going through. And then you spend so much more time for these years that we didn’t win a championship — it’s not that it’s all about winning a championship — but you grow in your life, and then finally 10 years after we won our third one, I was able to win the fourth one, our team in 2014. And that was like, wow, I had perspective. It’s really hard to do. It’s really hard to climb the mountain. And our team was able to do it, and that was probably one of the greatest experiences of my life.”