Foxboro - The great players in sports sometimes admit it and sometimes they don't. But let's face it they love the playoffs more than anything. For many players that have little name recognition, the playoffs is a chance to earn extra money and sometimes double their salary. For a great player like Tom Brady who has enough money that his great grandchildren might not have to work, the playoffs are not about the money. They are a chance to add to their legacy.
Brady has won more Super Bowls (five) than any player in NFL history and has been to more than any player in NFL history (eight). Brady might be the most competitive human being on the face of the planet. When he played board games in high school at friends‘ houses he wouldn't leave unless he won. Parents of friends begged him to leave. Brady stayed until he was victorious. Brady broke backgammon sets when he lost and bragged earlier in his career that he was the best punter on the Patriots. In an exclusive with Pats Maven earlier this year, he said that when he played golf with former Presidents George H.W. Bush and President Clinton in June 2006 he didn't ease up on one hole.
"President Clinton doesn't like to lose at golf and neither do I," Brady said.
Brady loves the intensity of the playoffs.
"I think it’s just naturally a level of intensity that you can’t really emulate at any other point in the season and really for us, any other point in our life. We all work hard to get to this point and to have an opportunity like we have, I don’t think you take them for granted. There’s been so many plays that I’ve seen in my career that had we not made that one play, which could be just an extra effort, could be an arm tackle, could be just one extra push of the pile that ends up being the difference in an entire game and really, an entire season. That’s what it’s all about. It’s great when it comes out for us and I think you just try to express that I don’t think you can compete any less than what you’re ultimately capable of competing at. That level, that’s intense and it’s every play and it’s just, you max out. You can’t leave everything behind. You’ve just got give everything you’ve got," Brady said.
Brady said Thursday the one constant in the NFL is change given that there could be many changes between the 2018 and the 2019 team with players and coaches likely to leave. Brady has enjoyed the players on this year's team.
"Every team has its own unique identity and this team cares a lot about each other. We play for each other and we’re playing to win. I think that’s what we’re here for. We’ve shown we can compete. We’ve shown we could overcome some adversity. We’ve been counted out a few times and showed back up with a lot of resolve. We have great character on this team. Like I said, our story’s still being written and fortunately, we have an opportunity to write it. We’ve got to go out there and play our best. Every team we play next week and beyond hopefully, is a great team. They’ve earned it. The team we play will have played a playoff game and we’re going to have to play our best game of the year," Brady said.
Brady played his first playoff game in January 2002. Few Americans had even heard of Google at that point. President George W. Bush was in office, Barack Obama was still a state senator and Donald Trump was working on The Apprentice. Trey Flowers, 25, was only seven years old at the time. Still, he does not take these opportunities for granted.
"I think that every year things change in the NFL. Really, this 2018 team won’t be the same as the 2019 and the 2017 team wasn’t the same as this team and the 2016 team wasn’t the same as the 2017 team. I think one thing that’s certain in the NFL is change and coaches, players, I don’t think it’s a big secret that people are just moving on. Different people leave for different reasons. Over the years, I’ve seen it all, 19 years. You just do the best you can do. When you sign up to be a part of the team, you give everything you can to help the team win and I think that’s what I’ve enjoyed most about this organization," Brady said.
Presidents, internet start-ups and financial meltdowns come and go, but Brady in the playoffs is the one constant in America. A week from Sunday will be his 38th playoff game - the most for any player in NFL history.
Brady, though, could care less about the previous 37 playoff games. His focus is the next one.