Tom Brady is not only greatest player to ever touch a football, but probably also the most demanding. Throughout his career, he’s taken average rosters deep into the playoffs and turned otherwise average players into short-term stars.
With his retirement potentially looming, it is important that the world never forgets Tom Brady’s contribution to America’s sport. Beyond throwing inch perfect passes, having incredible football IQ, and becoming a serial winner, the 44 year old has transcended his peers in another important category: leadership.
Stories from his former teammates which attest to his positive influence in locker rooms right from his high school days pop up all the time. As an outsider looking in, it seems reasonable to say that Brady is the type of leader who pushes his teammates to their limit. And then pushes some more.
He appears to be someone who is tough, but fair. Fair because no one puts in more work than him, be it studying game film, taking care of his body, or going hard during practices.
ESPN staff writer Jenna Laine put together a series of stories about how Brady has managed to get the most out of his teammates when the stakes are high, and this one from Danny Woodhead is a perfect example of how Brady’s contribution to winning football games doesn’t just come on the gridiron.
Danny Woodhead on Tom Brady: “everything that he could yell at me for, he’d yell at me”
Danny Woodhead, former running back for the Patriots from 2010-2012, came to New England after being released by the Jets. He may have been an undrafted and relatively unknown player who was just meant to backup Kevin Faulk, but that didn’t stop Brady from reaming him.
“Literally everything that he could yell at me for, he’d yell at me,” Woodhead said. “I remember like, ‘What is this cat’s deal? Did he just have a bad day? Did he sleep terrible? This is the greatest of all time, and the only thing I’ve experienced is him berating me.”
“That was his way of testing me to see if he could trust me. There’s been many times in New England where guys would get injured, but we’d figure it out because obviously we had the talent — because if you’re in the NFL, you have the talent – but you have the accountability of the quarterback.”
“Under pressure, is someone gonna cry under pressure like my 4-year-old when she has to clean up her toys? I don’t want that either, so let’s make sure that they can handle the pressure.”
In Woodhead’s case, Brady’s wrath would come to fruition sooner rather than later. Kevin Faulk went down with an injury early in the season. The next week, Woodhead scored his first NFL TD, a 22 yard run against the Bills.
He continued to be reliable through the playoffs, and even caught a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVI.