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Tom Brady

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</embed> In the span of one season--2001--the exceptionally poised National Football League (NFL) quarterback Tom Brady went from relative obscurity to league stardom, leading the New England Patriots to their improbable victory over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI; in the process he became the youngest quarterback ever to win an NFL championship. In 2004, after leading the Patriots to their second Super Bowl triumph in three years, Brady won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award of the championship game, as he had two years earlier, and became the youngest quarterback ever to win two Super Bowls. With those accomplishments Brady has invited comparisons to some of the great quarterbacks of the past, in particular the legendary Joe Montana. Like Montana, who won four Super Bowls and whose career Brady followed while growing up, Brady possesses neither the strongest throwing arm nor the greatest speed in the league. He is, however, acknowledged as a born leader on the field.

The former coaching great Bill Walsh, for whom Montana played, told Nick Cafardo for the Boston Globe (January 21, 2004), "What strikes you about Brady is the serenity in which he plays the game. That might sound silly, but when you see a great quarterback, there's a calmness and a coolness he has on the field, a fluidity to his game--smoothness, if you will--that sticks out. . . . Watch how effortless his delivery is. He's one of the most natural passers I've ever seen. . . . The other thing is, he makes great decisions on the field." The Patriots coach Bill Belicheck told Jeff Goodman for the Washington Post (January 16, 2004, on-line), "One thing about Tom is he's smart, he prepares very hard and is resilient. Pressure doesn't really bother him. He is pretty much unaffected by the score or the situation, the field position, the crowd noise, what happened the play before, all of those things." With such qualities, in addition to his good looks, strong work ethic, and humble attitude, Brady has emerged as one of the brightest stars of the NFL.

Family

The youngest of the four children--and the only son--of Tom and Galynn Brady, Tom Brady was born in San Mateo, [[Birth_State_Name:=California|California]], on August 3, 1977. Describing what it was like for her brother to grow up around so many girls, Julie Brady, the second-oldest of Tom's three sisters, told Michael Silver for Sports Illustrated (April 15, 2002), "He didn't get much time in the bathroom . . . and my sister Nancy would grill the girls who called him." Brady was interested in athletics from a very young age. He has recalled being in attendance with his father at a 1981 NFL play-off game in San Francisco. The 49ers won that game with the help of a spectacular play in which Joe Montana threw a touchdown pass to Dwight Clark. Referring to that play, Brady told Jim Litke for an Associated Press article (January 25, 2004), "I think I was whining the whole half because [my father] wouldn't buy me one of those foam fingers [used by fans to cheer on their home team]. So I don't think I enjoyed much of the second half." He added that when Clark caught the pass in the end zone, "Everyone jumped up, I couldn't see anything, and I think I was crying the whole way home, not realizing that was probably the most significant play in San Francisco 49ers history."

High School

Brady attended Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, the same school attended by the NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann and the baseball star Barry Bonds. Brady played on the school's baseball and football teams. As the football squad's starting quarterback, he completed 236 of 447 pass attempts--a 52.8 percent completion rate--and threw for 3,702 yards and 31 touchdowns. He was named the team's MVP and received All-State and All-Far West honors. In addition, Blue Chip Illustrated and Prep Football Report selected Brady as a high-school All-American.

College

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After graduating Brady was selected as a catcher by the Montreal Expos in the 18th round of the 1995 Major League Baseball draft. His first love was football, however, and later in the year he enrolled at the University of Michigan to continue his career on the gridiron. At the university he majored in organizational studies and played for the Wolverines, the school football team. During his first two seasons, Brady mainly practiced with the team, learning the offensive system and studying the way the game was played at the college level, and appeared briefly in a total of six games. In his sophomore year he watched from the sidelines as the Wolverines' starting quarterback, Brian Griese, led Michigan to the college football national championship. In 1998, his junior year and his first as the team's starting quarterback, Brady threw for 2,636 yards (the second-most in school history) and 15 touchdowns while completing 61 percent of his passes. He set school single-season records for pass attempts (350) and completions (214) and was named an All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention. (Along with the University of Michigan, the Big Ten Conference includes the state universities of Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana, among others.) An excellent student, Brady was named an Academic All-Big Ten Pick. Though he shared the starting-quarterback spot at the beginning of the 1999 season, his senior year, with the highly touted newcomer Drew Henson, Brady still managed to throw for 2,586 yards and 20 touchdowns while completing an outstanding 63 percent of his passes. (Brady has credited his fierce competition with Henson with helping to make him tougher mentally and inspiring him to improve as a player.) For that effort he received All-Big Ten Conference second-team honors. In the final game of his college career, Brady gave a superlative performance (369 yards passing and four touchdowns), leading the Wolverines to victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Orange Bowl. Brady's career record as the starting quarterback at Michigan was an impressive 20-5. He ranks third in school history in pass attempts (710) and completions (442); fourth in passing yards (5,351) and completion percentage (62.3); and fifth in touchdown passes (35).

NFL

After graduating from the University of Michigan, Brady was chosen in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft by the New England Patriots; he was the 199th player chosen overall. Brady told Michael Silver that he had been "heartbroken" by not being chosen until the sixth round. In light of the success he has had in the NFL, some football analysts and observers have since questioned why Brady was chosen so late in the draft. On the other hand, the former New York Giants quarterback and current CBS analyst Phil Simms told Mark Maske for the Washington Post (January 28, 2004) that coming out of college, Brady "was not strong. He couldn't run. His arm was good, but there were a lot of questions there." Teams looking to draft players, he added, "have to go with the tangible." Another reason for his being passed over by many teams was that Brady had been given serious competition for the quarterback spot at Michigan by Henson, who at times appeared to be the more athletically gifted player.

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In 2000, as a backup to the Patriots' then-quarterback Drew Bledsoe, Brady remained on the team's inactive list for much of the season and played only for several minutes of one game. The Patriots had a terrible year, posting a 5-11 record. In the second game of the 2001 season, Bledsoe was badly injured on a play, and Brady was asked to step in as the team's starting quarterback. When Brady made the first start of his NFL career, in the third game of the season, the Patriots were already burdened with a 0-2 record. Beginning with that game, which the Patriots won, the young quarterback steadied the team with his calm demeanor and rock-solid confidence. He was also shrewd in avoiding interceptions, setting a record from the start of a career for most pass attempts (162) made without throwing a dreaded "pick," as interceptions are often called. During the regular season Brady threw for 2,843 yards, while completing an outstanding 63.9 percent of his pass attempts (a Patriots team record), and recorded 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His passer rating--a number that takes into account several key statistics and reflects a quarterback's overall performance--was an excellent 86.5. That year he played in the Pro Bowl, the NFL's equivalent of an all-star game.The team ended the regular season with 11 wins against five losses. In the play-offs the Patriots won a tough contest in the snow against the Oakland Raiders, then bested the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Conference Championship, earning the right to play the favored St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI before more than 70,000 fans in New Orleans.

In the tightly fought championship game the Rams scored in the closing minutes to tie the score at 17. But Brady, responding superbly to the pressure, drove his team's offense 53 yards down the field, far enough for the Patriots' Adam Vinatieri to kick a winning field goal on the last play of the game. The Patriots had won the first Super Bowl in team history, and Brady had become, at 24 years of age, not only a star of the sport but the youngest quarterback ever to win an NFL championship. The previous record was held by Joe Montana, who in 1981 led the San Francisco 49ers to the championship at 25. Bill Walsh, Montana's former coach, has said that Brady's skills and game-time execution are the closest that he has seen to those of Montana. Brady himself, however, has downplayed such comparisons, telling Mike Lopresti for the Gannett News Service, as the article appeared on the Web site of the Asheville, North Carolina, Citizen-Times (February 2, 2004), "[Montana is] the benchmark for a quarterback in this league, and the way he succeeded and thrived in tight situations. There's no way I'm close to that. Hopefully one day I'm on that level. But no way now." Before Montana, the record for the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl was held by Joe Namath, who led the New York Jets to championship glory in 1969. Brady has also been compared by some sportswriters to Namath, who, like Brady, was a good-looking bachelor and a confident team leader.

Bill Beuttler wrote for Boston Magazine (August 2002, on-line) that in the wake of Brady's performance in Super Bowl XXXVI, the media focus on the young quarterback had been "pretty much nonstop. . . . Brady's pursuers include a relentless swarm of promoters, sponsors, reporters, and--assuming you believe the gossip columns--a parade of willing women." In the weeks that followed the Patriots' victory, among other signs of the quarterback's newfound celebrity, People magazine placed Brady on its 2002 list of the "50 Most Beautiful People"; a photograph of a bare-chested Brady was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated (April 15, 2002) under the words "A Whirlwind Off-Season for the New Prince of the NFL"; he sparred playfully with the boxing legend Muhammad Ali at a fund-raiser; and the real-estate mogul Donald Trump flew Brady on his private jet to Gary, Indiana, so that the football star could help him judge the 2002 Miss USA contest. "These last few weeks have been a whirlwind, and I'm trying to learn as I go along," Brady told Silver. "I think I'm a pretty good quarterback, but there's all this other stuff that goes along with being a very recognizable person, and I suck at it. This is my new reality, I guess, and it's knocking me down." In the face of such potential distractions, Brady remained focused on football. "Why do some guys have one great year and then play so badly the next?" he asked Beuttler rhetorically. "Well, now I think I know why--because there are so many things that can take you away from what you need to do to focus on your job. My biggest fear is to end up being a one-hit wonder." The Patriots player Larry Izzo told Beuttler, "[Brady] works as seriously as anybody out here. He's here at seven in the morning throughout the off-season, with [backup quarterback] Damon Huard--throwing the ball, running. He works like he's a sixth-round draft pick out of Michigan still, not the Super Bowl MVP. And that's good. When you see a guy like that--a leader of your football team--doing all the hard stuff the hard way, you get a level of respect from everybody in the locker room."

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Brady started all 16 regular-season games for the Patriots in 2002, again achieving excellent numbers, including a career-high 3,764 yards passing, completion of 62 percent of his pass attempts, a career-high 28 touchdowns, and just 14 interceptions. The Patriots as a team, however, did not fare well, stumbling to a 9-7 record and failing to qualify for the play-offs. In 2003, however, Brady and the Patriots returned to championship form, posting a league-best 14-2 regular-season record and recording a 15-game winning streak (which included the team's run through the play-offs and the Super Bowl game), the longest in the NFL in 31 years. In the regular season Brady threw for 3,620 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. His passer rating was 85.9, 10th best in the league, which, while respectable, did not reflect the fact that Brady had led his team to victory more often than any other team's quarterback. On their march through the 2003 play-offs, Brady and the Patriots defeated the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts, who were led by the quarterbacks Steve McNair and Peyton Manning, respectively, that year's NFL co-MVPs. (Brady finished third in the voting for league MVP.) The Patriots safety Rodney Harrison told Goodman, "No one ever puts [Brady] in a class of the Peyton Mannings and the Steve McNairs"--who are said to have stronger arms, to be better runners, and to be more talented overall. "But that's fine because when you keep taking him for granted, he keeps kicking you right in the butt." Speaking of Brady, Peyton Manning himself told Bill Williamson for the Pioneer Press (January 31, 2004), "He is one of the best quarterbacks in the game because of the way he does his job. He uses his head as well as anyone and just goes out and wins games."

In Super Bowl XXXVIII the Patriots again bested their opponents in a closely contested game, defeating the Carolina Panthers, 32-29, on another last-second field goal by Adam Vinatieri. Brady had played another superb game, completing 32 of 48 pass attempts, two of them resulting in touchdowns, for 354 yards. He had also made history again, this time as the youngest quarterback to win two Super Bowls, joining the rarefied company of quarterbacks who have won more than one NFL championship--a list that includes Joe Montana, Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, John Elway, and Roger Staubach, all of whom are either in the NFL Hall of Fame or among the strongest candidates for induction. Brady's career record in December and January, when the most crucial contests are waged, is an outstanding 17-2. With Brady leading them, the Patriots have made more than a dozen fourth-quarter comebacks, are 15-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer and 7-0 in overtime games, and have never lost a play-off game--all of which points to Brady's ability to perform at his best when the stakes are highest. In October 2004 the Patriots celebrated their 20th consecutive victory, an NFL record. With a 5-0 record for the 2004 season as of the end of that month, the team also broke the league record of 17 straight regular-season wins, set in 1933-34 by the Chicago Bears.

Personal

Brady enjoys playing golf and is rumored to be an Internet addict. He had a speaking part in the Farrelly brothers' movie Stuck on You (2003). Several weeks before the Patriots' Super Bowl victory in February 2004, Brady attended President George W. Bush's State of the Union address at the president's invitation. Over the years he has been linked romantically to a number of women, including the actress Tara Reid, actress Bridget Moynahan and model Gisele Bündchen.

Brady is six feet four inches tall and a lean, muscular 225 pounds. Photo- and telegenic, he has blue eyes, a bright smile, and a cleft chin. Referring to the methodical and precise way he goes about defeating his opponents on the football field, Jim Litke wrote, "Despite his boyish looks, Brady, at 26, already has the heart of an assassin." Template:OMG728