Tom Brady has spent his offseason on the interview circuit. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)
Last offseason, while the Deflategate saga was playing out in court, Tom Brady went radio silent. He rarely spoke with reporters, instead opting to communicate with fans on social media. When Brady announced he was dropping his appeal, he posted a message on Facebook, bypassing the middle man.
That’s quite a difference from this year. Brady is embarking on a post-Super Bowl media tour, appearing on Pro Football Talk Live this week and participating in a series of interviews with the MMQB’s Peter King. In the second portion of his sit-down with King, the conversation centers around Brady’s exhaustive and unorthodox training methods. At this stage in his career, it’s apparent Brady is playing for more than his sixth Super Bowl ring. He’s playing to validate his lifestyle –– avocado ice cream and all.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Brady’s game is his durability. He’s played in 141 of the 145 Patriots contests from 2009-2016, only missing time to serve his four-game Deflategate suspension. Unlike most of his peers, Brady doesn’t lift heavy weights. Instead, he focuses on strengthening his core and flexibility. He says he believes this kind of training allows him to withstand punishment on the field.
“How do you work on durability? That’s what I’ve figured out,” he told King. “I know how to be durable. It’s hard for me to get hurt, knock on wood. Anything can happen in football. But I want to put myself in a position to be able to withstand the car crash before I get in the car crash. I don’t want to go in there and say, ‘Oh God, I know this muscle is really tight and ready to go, let’s see if it can hold up to someone falling on me who is 300 pounds.’ Then someone lands on you, and a rotator cuff tears. I could have told you that was probably going to happen. It’s going to be really hard for me to have a muscle injury, based off the health of my muscle tissue and the way that I try to take care of it.”
Brady seems to think he can cheat football mortality. He says he wants to play until he’s 45, and after watching him lead the Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl title last season, it doesn’t appear all that crazy. At 39 years old, he led the AFC in QB rating among starting quarterbacks (112.2) and looks to be in better shape than ever. This was personified in Super Bowl LI, when Brady completed 21-of-27 passes in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead the Patriots on a historic 25-point comeback win over the Falcons. Despite taking 99 snaps, the most of his career, Brady seemed as fresh as he did during the first week of training camp.
It’s clear that Brady attributes this success to the work of his training guru, Alex Guerrero. In the second half of his interview with King, he makes it a point to expound on his physical and mental training regimen. He also references his favorite book, “The Four Agreements,” which stresses the importance of not taking things personally. This zen-like mindset probably explains why Brady never publicly rebuked Roger Goodell during the entire Deflategate saga. Apparently free of hostility, he enacted the ultimate revenge on Goodell last season, when the commissioner was forced to hand him his fourth Super Bowl MVP trophy.
In today’s politically polarized world, many athletes are speaking out on social issues. LeBron James is the trailblazer for this phenomenon, taking strong stands against gun violence, police brutality and campaigning with Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. Brady, meanwhile, shies away from social commentary. He says he’s singularly focused on football, dedicating his time and energy to disproving everything we think we know about how the human body ages.
The longer Brady plays, the more legitimate his meticulous lifestyle appears. It’s easy to laugh when you first hear about his refusal to eat tomatoes or insistence on almost only eating raw food in the summer. But evidently, it’s working for him. Now it’s about getting the message out.
Brady doesn’t have any use for discussing his friendship with Donald Trump or rehashing Deflategate. But when the topic turns to his lifestyle, from nutrition to training, he can’t seem to stop talking.
When Brady retires from football, he probably won’t head into the broadcast booth or take a cushy front office position. Instead, it seems likely he’ll dedicate his life to peddling the TB12 brand. The push is already starting.