By JIM LITKE, AP Sports Author
Ahead of his 10th Super Bowl appearance, the Associated Press asked the best of eight games – eight current and former champions – to impress him the most about Tom Brady.
Just what he needs: More testimonials.
Any club is bound to be exclusive, with Michael Jordan, Serena Williams and Wayne Gretzky in the ranks. Its members talk about Brady in the same way that the rest of us do. Nobody saw the trade secret nor admired the speed of their feet. Some have wished him longevity or taken him by surprise at how he moved the center of gravity of the NFL of New England to Tampa Bay in the middle of a pandemic without a pandemic. Most noted similar qualities – intelligence, leadership, competition – that long ago gave to fans and foes alike associated with Brady.
But there was an interesting partisanship: they all saw their strength reflected in Brady, especially those who are still playing at quarterback at age 43 and close. (The complete responses, lightly edited and career highlights and accompanying notes, are below.)
So LeBron James, 36, zeroed in on Brady’s Mileage-A-Matter mantra, which works well with himself.
Manny Pacquiao, a 42-year-old unnatural gym rat, expressed Brady’s devotion to staying in shape.
Williams, 39, swears that he saw Tiger’s glint in Brady’s eyes 20 years ago, watching his first Super Bowl, which marks him as a big-game contender for decades to come.
Gretzski, 60, also said that Brady transformed his love for the game as a child into a blueprint that enabled him to play in the 40s.
And even Jordan, who turned 58 the following week and avoided speaking publicly about most of his rivals at the time, gave a response, which was a brief one. She chose to highlight Brady’s “incredible drive”, a subject about which he knows something.
Not every athlete approached – looking at you, Tiger Woods responded. James’ response came via his “Goat Baat” Instagram post. Williams’ answer came at a press conference at the Australian Open in Melbourne, where she made a point of stopping on her way to tell AP Asia-Pacific Sports Editor John Pai that she was happy to receive the question.
On the other hand, baseball great Derek Jeter said through a spokesman, “We’ve received some of these requests in the last week. Mr. Jeter avoids giving others a chance to speak about Mr. Brady.
OK then. Without further delay:
– Michael Jordan (played 15 seasons in NBA … Pro Basketball Hall of Fame, six-time NBA champion, six-time Finals MVP, five-time league MVP, two-time Olympic gold medalist, NCAS champion)
“I’ve known Tom for a long time, and for me, his intelligence and determination to win are off the charts. It’s the incredible drive that really sets him apart from anyone else in the game.”
– LeBron James (currently playing 18th season in NBA … four-time NBA champion, four-time Finals MVP, four-time league MVP, two-time Olympic gold medalist)
“(Brady’s presence) tells me and we both know that we can still play this game at a higher level. No matter how many miles, no matter how many games. No matter how many doubts. No matter the statistics of our future occupations at our age, we can still dominate our game.
“And apart from that, we can bring together groups that we may not have stayed for long. And just our professionalism… We move to those who lead us because we have a common goal, and that is to win and win at the highest level. “
Serena Williams (changed in 1995 … 23 Grand Slam singles titles, by any player in the Open Era … Four-time Olympic gold medalist in singles and doubles … She and older sister Venus have the NFL’s Miami Dolphins Bought a small ownership in. 2009)
“The guy is a champion, and I’ve said this since he defeated Kurt Warner back, I want to say – what was that, 2000 (2001 really)? It was that crazy Super Bowl. He was a Dalit and he Ram. Defeated. Clearly I’m a football fan (laughs) … and I always thought, ‘This guy is impressive.’ … What he has done to come out of New England and into Tampa, I mean he should have just come to the Dolphins. Seriously, Tom, what were you thinking?…
“I was actually talking (about Brady’s leadership) the other day watching the game. I said, ‘It must be very inspiring for him to be a wide receiver or a lineman … or in the team in general, because it’s like,’ This guy has won so many rings, he clearly knows what. To do. ‘And for that motivation, they should be fired for every game. Postson in particular, they should be like, ‘Oh my God, this is our chance, we are the greatest. … ”
– MANNY PACQUIAO (Pro in 1995 … Only eight-division world champion in boxing history … Senate member in the Philippines)
“Tom Brady is an inspiration to me. We are in our forties, competing in sports that are dangerous and physically and mentally demanding. But this may be where the comparison ends. What he has accomplished, and is still accomplishing at his age is anything I can remember.
“In 2019, I became the oldest fighter to win the welterweight world title. It was tough. I was forty and knew … I couldn’t cut a corner in training camp. Run that last mile, crunch the last set of seating, relax even when you don’t feel tired – all of this has to be done. Tom Brady does this every day. He has no child. … It takes supernatural dedication and discipline … Tom Brady is always on my mind during training camp and between fights. Because Tom Brady is the gold standard. “
– WAYNE GRETZKY (in 20 seasons in the NHL and WHA … Hockey Hall of Fame … four-time Stanley Cup champion … nine-time league MVP … still NHL’s leading career goal scorer and assistant producer
“I don’t think it happens overnight. You start thinking about how much you love the sport at an early age. So I’m sure at an early age he loved it so much that he was 23, 24 Was probably too mature for a year-old … making sure his training habits, nutrition and diet were as good or better than anyone’s … As a result, he has done all the right things in 20 years so that he is mentally and physically Be able to sustain both. … It takes a lot of dedication and hard work, and eventually we are seeing results at her age …
“That would be a bad game, which we all athletes do, and when you’re young, people say: ‘Well, that was a bad night, a bad game, a bad week. He’ll counterattack.’ So, the first thing people want to point out is, ‘Well, I think his game was bad because he is old.’ And for her, that’s not the case. When she has a hard night, which we all do, she returns the next week even better and everyone says, ‘Okay, okay, me It seems that she is not so old. ‘ … I think the evidence was that he won three road games at the playoffs, which is very difficult to do in football. “
– JIMMIE JOHNSON (competing in NASCAR for 18 years … seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion … 45-year-old cheater will be at IndyCar this season)
“His leadership brought out the talent of others. He plays as a team and not as an individual. … Being humble can help a person cut through layers of adversity, ego, and it creates the ability to activate people around you with similar goals – it pulls people in the same direction helps. What he has accomplished is a lesson for all of us. “
– LANCE ARMSTRONG (49… seven time Tour de France champion, stripped of all titles in 2012)
“He is doing something we have never seen before. He is playing one of the toughest sports around and perhaps his greatest strength has been his ability to keep a 43-year-old body healthy. It has nothing to do with genetics or luck. He must spend an incredible amount of time focusing on: flexibility, mobility, feasibility, and simply put, longevity. The sports world has never seen anything like him and probably won’t be around very long. “
AP Sportswriters John Pye, Stephen Vheno, Jenna Fryer and Steven Vine contributed to this report.
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