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Have you heard about that time Tom …? Ex-teammates share their favorite Brady stories – The Providence Journal

FOXBORO — With 20 years, six championships and hundreds of teammates, there is an endless number of Tom Brady stories.
We’re not talking about the times Brady dug down deep and led fourth-quarter comebacks. Or all of the jaw-dropping passes he threw. Or even the six titles he won or the records he set. Instead, we’re talking about the moments that weren’t always made public — the inside stories and the times that Brady surprised his teammates.
As Brady returns to Gillette Stadium on Sunday to take on the Patriots with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he’ll be remembered as the greatest quarterback of all time. For his former teammates, he’ll also be recalled as an ultra-competitive quarterback who surprised them in so many different ways off the football field.
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This Brady-Patriots matchup elicits a lot of emotions, but also many stories. Here are a few of them:  
Backup quarterback Damon Huard joined Brady and several other Patriots players for a charity basketball game during the early 2000s. The group was taking on a local group of firefighters and they weren’t taking it seriously. Huard even remembers drinking beers with some of his teammates before the game started.
Then the whistle blew and the Patriots players started to lose. Brady wasn’t having it and lost his mind — at a charity event.
“It was fun for most of us, but midway through the third quarter, we’re losing to these guys and Brady just went off on us,” Huard said. “Like, ‘Dude, we’re not losing to a bunch of freaking Walpole firefighters! Are you freaking kidding me? We’re professional athletes!’ ”
As you can imagine, Brady orchestrated a comeback. The quarterback turned into a sharpshooter and the firefighters couldn’t stop him. The Patriots ended up with the win.
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“He had this 3-point bank shot from the side and he must have made five of them as we went on to beat them,” Huard said. “I love telling that story because Tom just can’t lose — backgammon, if it’s some something in the weight room, etc.
“He’s a nice guy with a smile, until there’s competition.” 
After their third Super Bowl championship, Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi was with Brady and teammates Richard Seymour, Corey Dillon, Adam Vinatieri and Larry Izzo at the 2005 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. At the time, the Pro Bowl was played seven days after the Super Bowl. At this event, the announcer would introduce the Pro Bowlers who played on the championship team and those players  would run out onto the field together.
It was a nice honor, but Brady wasn’t willing to celebrate his third Super Bowl title —  even a week after it had occurred.
“Oh, man,” Bruschi said, “it was so prideful to do that, to walk out there and everyone watch us be introduced that way. But before we went out, Tom huddled us up and said, ‘You know, no one’s ever won three in a row.’ And, literally, I still had confetti on the bottom of my cleats and he’s thinking about winning another and there was a little silence.”
Bruschi let out a loud exhale and wondered if they could just enjoy their third Super Bowl title and play in the Pro Bowl. “That’s not the way he thinks, and it’s evidence that, shoot, that was 16 years ago,” Bruschi said. “I just still go back to that in terms of you want to understand the tenacity of this guy’s thought process. There it is.” 
Bill Belichick’s son, Brian, is the Patriots safeties coach. During the 2000 season, the youngest Belichick sibling was an 8-year-old who loved football. His father taught him the route tree for receivers and he loved to practice running every passing route imaginable.
One day after practice, Belichick asked Brady — his rookie quarterback — if he would throw some passes to Brian. Belichick would signal the route, Brian would run it and Brady would throw him the ball. They even set up a pad to let the boy practice diving for catches.
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As you can imagine, it left an impression on Brian.
“We did that after practice one day in the bubble and he laid a couple out for me on a rubber mat, like, to dive on,” Brian Belichick said. “That was a very, very special memory for me growing up and I have always appreciated that — him staying after with me doing the route tree. He was a great example to watch growing up.”
When the session ended, Brian Belichick was enamored with Brady. That’s when he made a bold prediction. “I was like, ‘Oh, man, that’s the best quarterback to ever live.’ That’s what I was thinking then before he became the best.”
Patriots defensive end Chase Winovich played at Michigan — Brady’s alma mater — so was a big fan of the quarterback as he started his NFL career.
Then it happened.
During the Patriots’ 2019 preseason finale, Brady snuck up behind Winovich on the sideline with a pair of scissors. In one quick motion, the quarterback cut off a small piece of the then-rookie’s long, blond hair. When he was asked about his favorite Brady memory, Winovich, who still has long hair, recalled that moment.
“The first thing that comes to my mind is the fourth preseason game, when he cut my hair on the sideline,” Winovich said. “Nobody cuts my hair except for my stylist.”
Now in his third NFL season, Winovich says: “He’s honestly someone that I really look up to. I’ve managed to learn so many lessons during our time together, from an inspiration standpoint, from a leadership standpoint and just as a way of operating, in a way of existing. There’s few people that I’ve ever met that are cooler or do it better than Tom. It was something that I definitely cherished.”
Former Patriots receiver Sean Morey caught Brady’s first preseason pass in 2000. The two players grew close over the next two seasons before the receiver was cut in 2001. During Brady’s second offseason, Morey noticed Brady spending a lot of time in the weight room.
Everyone remembers Brady’s picture from the 2000 NFL Combine. The quarterback looked skinny and gangly. Veteran teammates let him hear it throughout his first season. If you thought the internet was mean, imagine being a professional athlete with skinny legs.
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Brady heard the noise but never fought back. Instead, he worked hard and got stronger.
“He almost epitomized to me that ‘leave-no-stone-unturned’ work ethic,” Morey said. “He was always in the weight room. Everybody teased him about his calves. He was long and lanky and didn’t have a lot of meat on his bones. It didn’t deter him. He wasn’t discouraged. He just worked. He didn’t say anything and just worked.” 
Former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich has many fond memories of his time with Brady. There were the Super Bowl wins and championship parades. There was also the time he intercepted the quarterback in practice and the head coach made fun of Brady.
When the Pats were reviewing the practice film, Belichick put the clip up on the video screen. It was an easy interception and everyone made note of that.
“It was the first day of training camp,” Ninkovich said. “He threw it right to me. Bill put it up, like, ‘Tom, what are we doing? You threw it right to him.’
“Tom afterward came up to me and said, ‘Yeah, great catch, Rob. It came right to you.’ Just kind of like a subtle [dig]. I thought it was funny. I didn’t get mad about it. I said, ‘Yeah, thanks for throwing it to me, Tom.’  He’s funny.”
Ninkovich keeps in touch with Brady. When he saw the quarterback in a Subway commercial, he sent Brady a message asking if that was in his TB12 diet.
Brady’s response: “Shut up, Rob.”


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