What do you do with consistent excellence? How do you process it? How do the average masses view the brilliant contribution of the few? Many dismiss it as trickery, cheating, luck, or chance. This minimizes the painful gap of comparison. For others, recognizing that brilliance leads to hate for what it brings: defeat and frustration. Excellence is a mirror, and when we look at it we see our own shortcomings.
Tom Brady retired. Why is that a surprise? He’s 45 as I write this, won 7 Super Bowl rings for two teams and long ago became the G.O.A.T. for those who celebrate the level of excellence he’s reached. Those who would knock him down a notch or two for perceived slights or for the extreme discipline he lives by grudgingly note the results. This isn’t a guy who does things half-assed.
When you live in New England, and you’ve lived through the really, really dark days of professional sports in New England when every team was losing in heartbreaking fashion every year from 1987 until 2001, well, you recognize the difference that one or two people can make in a game, or on a team, or in a region. Tom Brady was a sparkplug for New England, and winning became contagious. It became expected. Because the standard was raised, and it remains higher than it was before he rose up to lead that first Super Bowl win in the aftermath of 9/11 for a team called Patriots.
There are a million Tom Brady quotes out there. I mean, the guy played Pro Football for 22 years; you accumulate a lot of quotes in all that time! But here are five that I found most enlightening about the man. Thanks Tom, it’s been fun seeing excellence on display for so many years:
“It’s never come easy for me. I don’t think my mind allows me to rest ever. I have, I think, a chip on my shoulder, and some deep scars that I don’t think were healed.”
“A lot of times I find that people who are blessed with the most talent don’t ever develop that attitude, and the ones who aren’t blessed in that way are the most competitive and have the biggest heart.”
“I think I have a certain respect for people, you know. And I guess a lot of times I expect that respect to go both ways.”
“If you waste your time and energy on things that don’t matter in the outcome of the game, then when you get to the game you’re not going to give your teammates the best that you have to offer.”
“I knew I became a professional when I stop paying attention to what time it was.”