Few football players have faced as many nerve-wracking moments in their careers as Tom Brady, but the New England Patriots quarterback has risen to the occasion almost every time, posting a remarkable 5-2 record in the Super Bowl.
That composure extends to the regular season, where Brady has posted a 183-52 record as a starter. He ranks as one of the NFL’s most efficient passers in almost every category and threw just two interceptions in 2016, the lowest number of any quarterback making more than 10 starts.
But while those figures are impressive, they only tell part of the story of Brady’s considerable cool under pressure. Sebastian Vollmer, a German-born offensive tackle who spent seven seasons with New England, recently told a story that perfectly encapsulates the key to the 12-time Pro Bowler’s longevity. According to ESPN:
“We’re playing Miami and I got beat clean by the defensive end. I’m on the right side, essentially turning around, and Tom is looking to the left. The defensive end has a straight shot at him and I know Tom doesn’t see him. So I just yell out one loud, ‘Toooommmmm!’ He doesn’t even look, steps up calm as ever and delivers the ball for a completion. Then he looks in my direction, points his finger and says, ‘I heard that.’ I’m thinking to myself, ‘What incredible awareness he has.’ Never rattled. I’m the one who screwed up and he’s thanking me for yelling his name. It was like a panic cry.”
Between the noise of the stadium and the on-field chaos, it’s a bit surprising that Brady was able to hear Vollmer’s warning, but the California native managed to do far more than that, getting off a pass and finding his man under pressure.
Even though Vollmer made a mistake, Brady commended him for his effort. The signal caller’s fiercely competitive nature often belies the respect he has for his teammates, which Vollmer recounted in another anecdote.
“I’m always impressed, because when you walk into that locker room, everyone knows who Tom Brady is. But he introduces himself to every rookie: ‘Hey, my name is Tom Brady. I play quarterback,'” Vollmer said. “It’s not like, ‘I’m the guy.’ He’s not arrogant.”