Tom Brady will soon have the chance to prove something he's believed for a long time: that he's the best quarterback in the history of professional football.
Granted, he's also super-controversial--more on that in a minute. For now, the questions are (a) whether he can lead the New England Patriots to record a fifth Super Bowl victory, and (b) whether there's something for all of us (and our kids) to learn from his example.
Here are nine things to learn from Brady and his Patriots--and why you should root for his team to win this weekend.
1. Believe in yourself against all odds.
At the start of his career, nobody thought this would happen. Brady's NFL success was anything but predestined. He barely made his high school football team, and wound up the backup quarterback on a junior varsity squad that went 0-8.
When he did start playing, he had a hard time getting colleges to pay attention, and at the University of Michigan, he had to fight for playing time. Then, he was picked in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft, meaning other teams chose 198 other players before him. And he started his career with the Patriots as their fourth string quarterback.
The only person who truly believed? Brady himself.
2. Don't listen to haters.
I should disclose that I've been a Patriots fan since long before Brady was on the team--long before they were any good. But I'm certainly aware that there are a lot of fans of other teams who hate the Patriots, and who can't stand Brady.
Even those who couldn't care much less about football might find him controversial given his friendship with President Trump. But Brady gives no sign of caring at all.
3. Find your "all-business" switch.
Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick have been together for 17 years. They're perhaps the most successful coach and quarterback pairing in history--and yet their relationship is reportedly 100 percent businesslike and transactional.
"They have never even gone out to lunch or dinner," Brady's father told Sally Quinn of The Washington Post. "That's not what they do."
Of course Brady plays with emotion. But he knows how to set that aside, and simply perform.
4. Take care of your physical health.
Brady is old. Really old. I mean, I'm older than he is, but I don't play in the NFL. He'll turn 40 in August; if he wins, he'll be the second-oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, after Peyton Manning, who was 39 when he won last year. (In fairness however, Manning wasn't really the reason the Denver Broncos won last year--and he retired immediately afterward.)
Brady insists he wants to play well into his 40s, which would be unprecedented if he keeps winning. What makes it possible? According to him: an almost absurd diet and exercise regimen. He also reportedly uses a sensory deprivation tank in his house.
5. Have a backup plan.
Yes, Brady believed in himself, but he also had a backup plan. For one thing, he interned at Merrill Lynch during the summers in his college. Here's his resume.
6. Pursue every advantage.
Trick plays, strange applications of the rules, a bit of luck--and yes, accusations of bending the rules, most notably in the Deflategate scandal that wound up with Brady being suspended earlier this year: they're all part of Brady's reputation.
But whatever corners he may have cut, he's still there: winning. Brady, together with Belechick, epitomize the idea that if you want to succeed in life, it's usually a lot easier to get forgiveness than permission.
7. Work your tail off.
Seventeen years in the NFL. In fact, Brady's playoff games add up to an entire extra season. There are only two other players drafted the same year he was who are still playing besides Brady. One is a kicker, and the other is a punter. There's no way anyone could achieve that without a tremendous work ethic.
8. Find a way to do what you love.
In an alternate world, Brady is selling insurance or playing baseball. He was actually selected in the Major League Baseball draft by the Montreal Expos. Both would have been good options--but neither was his dream.
It's better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb, than halfway up one you don't.
9. Value experience.
Prior to this year, Brady has played in six Super Bowls. Add up the entire Atlanta Falcons roster, and you'll have a total of five Super Bowl game experiences across the entire team.
Sometimes people benefit from "not knowing what they can't do." But after