By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Given the all-out focus these days on Antonio Brown, it feels almost out of place to discuss the Patriots as if they are a football team rather than an object of intense scrutiny, curiosity, and controversy.
Nevertheless, despite the seriousness of the accusations made against Brown, the Patriots’ season will go on. And while most of the headlines generated out of Foxboro were based on what players and coaches said (or didn’t say) about Brown, there was an interesting nugget from Tom Brady when it comes to what has made both himself and the team so good and so consistent for so long.
Levan Reid asked Brady if he feels a kinship with Brown, considering they’re both sixth-round picks. Brady opted to not speak specifically about Brown, instead giving a rather illuminating answer on why lower-round picks and undrafted players have found so much success in Foxboro and why their traits can’t be evaluated at the scouting combine.
“Yeah, I think you look at a guy like Julian [Edelman], too. We’ve got a lot of undrafted players, late-round picks,” Brady said. “I think what they can’t evaluate at the combine are probably things that might help you prolong your career. You know, you learn different skill-sets when you’re not the top pick. So, a lot of times, I think it’s … if you can stick with it and you can keep finding a way, the things that make you successful as a player, to me, are continuing to evolve your game, continue to work at your skills, the things you need to do, continuous improvement, discipline, hard work. … I think the things that are sustainable are hard work, discipline, commitment. And I’d say we’ve had a lot of players over the years that have fit that mold.”
Certainly, part of Brady’s answer sounds like sports cliche, the type of sayings you might see printed across the wall in a weight room. But considering the career of the 42-year-old six-time Super Bowl champion who is roughly eight weeks away from passing the all-time leader in touchdown passes, it’s hard to argue with the results.
“Sometimes, I think the guys who are later picks develop those traits and then you realize, ‘Man, those really paid off for me, let me keep doing them.'” Brady added. “I think sometimes it’s a disadvantage when you’re a high pick. Everyone tells you how great you are all the time, you get more opportunity than everybody else.”
Take that, Chad Pennington.
Brady has, naturally, resisted the notion that he is, unequivocally, the greatest quarterback of all time. This past February, after securing Lombardi Trophy No. 6, Brady went so far as to say that hearing that he’s the GOAT makes him cringe.
“I don’t even like that! I don’t like it. It makes me cringe. It makes me cringe. It makes me cringe,” Brady repeated in his post-Super Bowl Disney World interview. “I guess I take compliments worse than I take [insults]. I wish you would say, ‘You’re trash, you’re too old, you’re too slow, you can’t get it done no more.’ And I would say, ‘Thank you very much, I’m gonna go prove you wrong.’”
The idea of a “chip on a shoulder” or a particular attitude of having something to prove remains, of course, unquantifiable. But it’s been undeniably evident countless times over the years in sports, never more so than with the 20-year quarterback of the New England Patriots. In addition to being the most accomplished quarterback to ever play football, he also probably ranks at the top of the list of athletes who really know how to harness that drive to prove people wrong. For Brady, that desire seemingly never dissipates. Not even the slightest bit.