There are people who don’t know of a New England Patriots without quarterback Tom Brady as the now 41-year old is set to enter his 19th season in the NFL.
Entering his first training camp with the Patriots in 2000 does seem like a lifetime ago for the young player out of Michigan who has spent the last near two decades turning himself into the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL.
And it wasn’t easy.
While speaking to Religion of Sports, Brady was asked about his first training camp and about some of the veterans that took him under their wing.
“Man, that was a long time ago!” Brady said. “Drew Bledsoe was obviously a great leader for this team and mentor to me when I came into the league. Willie McGinest, Ty Law, Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson — those were guys I watched and learned from in terms of how they prepared and carried themselves. Bruce Armstrong was on that team, and he’s probably one of the all-time greats. I obviously built a rapport with Troy Brown.
“And Bill — I mean, I’ve been lucky enough to play for the best coach in the history of the game. Obviously, our relationship has changed over the years, but even back then he was demanding and precise and expected a lot from all of his players. That was clear from the very start.
“Since then, I’ve just been hardwiring started for me. Now when I get back to camp and get back into my routines, it just gets activated and I’m ready to go!”
Times have changed, and the young quarterback who was once looking up to Drew Bledsoe is now considered the greatest of all-time after winning five Super Bowls in his 19 years with the Patriots organization.
During the offseason, Brady confessed to Oprah Winfrey that he’s aware the end of his career is coming sooner rather than later and now he has admitted to R.O.S. that he’s been very cognizant of time.
“Over the last few seasons I’ve become a lot more aware of time, in general,” he said. “It’s not just training camp or football — it’s everything. There’s a lot of sacrifice that goes into this not just from me, but from my family, too. My wife, my kids — I’m not as available during the football season.
“For that reason alone, I’m conscious of a certain mental transition that begins to occur as camp gets started; an awareness of what it’s going to take for our team to succeed at the highest level. With that being said, I’m as excited as ever to try to achieve our team goals!”