Featured photo by amny.com
As a fan of the New York football Giants, my opinions of Tom Brady ran the gamut from mild distaste to unwavering suspicion (think: Deflategate).
Brady, even with his success, could be viewed (albeit rarely) as an unfortunate figure: with two crushing Super Bowl losses to New York, fueled by game saving Eli Manning passes that could be described as nothing less than miraculous (check out the freakishly accurate throw to Mario Manningham in Super Bowl XLVI).
Even with those two unlikely defeats, last week Brady secured his seventh Super Bowl win in 10 attempts. To label him the greatest of all time is making an understatement.
With his successes comes my growing admiration: even as a Giants fan, I recognize Brady’s humility and praise of his team’s efforts to buoy that success. Even better, he knows he’s an older guy that needs to work even harder to sustain the levels he’s reached.
At 43 years old, he is the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl game.
That’s the reason I’m now fond of Brady: not much younger than myself, he lives and plays with a certain fire. Never satisfied, and still with a gigantic chip on his shoulder.
If you’re a man, in your 40s or 50s, and not inspired by Brady’s exploits, you should see your doctor and have your testosterone checked.
The chip on his shoulder, formed by being drafted out of college in the sixth round (even now, it sounds ridiculous), has never been worn down by the swells of his success. Even behind that smiling face and “aw, shucks” demeanor, you know his attitude is to burn the most competitive foe.
As someone that has experience with chip on shoulder syndrome, I can relate. The chip on me formed as a middle schooler, overweight and an easy target, and segued into a Stallone inspired workout regimen and steely resolve into fighting shape. That chip has never wavered, and into my late 50s, I still pursue the ideal of what will be the best physical shape of my life.
There is no other alternative than to go down fighting. With Brady, you can just sense his never quit mentality.
With as much as I hold my example close to heart, to be fair, it’s a small one. I have family, relatives who were crucial in setting the table of prosperity that we sit at now, to give the most credit.
Picture this: your father, a successful businessman, and your mother, a healer, pull you from your home because of outside criminal threats. Mayhem and violence.
You leave your home country, landing by boat to the bleak skies and bitter winds of New York City. We’re not in sunny Sicily anymore.
In your previous life, you had relative luxury – even with staff to help you keep house. In the new land, you are nothing: in some eyes, less than nothing. You now have nothing. The tables have turned. You are now the servants.
That’s how, as a child, my grandmother’s story started. The nucleus of my grandfather’s story isn’t vastly different. For them to survive – to hell with the concept of succeeding – they needed a chip the size of a boulder to plant on their already weary shoulders.
They had them. And they made it. Through sheer force of will, with the strength of their backs and resolve, they built lives, businesses, communities, and a deeply appreciative family.
To say my grandmother and grandfather were ferocious competitors in the game of life would be yet another understatement, on the same level of calling Brady a decent quarterback.
No matter what type of shit storm they had to persevere through – and there were plenty of them – they never stopped moving forward. They were, as I’ve often said, relentless.
Watching Brady meticulously call audibles and throw passes last Sunday, to keep a lightning fast Chiefs defense on its heels, I didn’t think of comparing future fortunes of two unrelated, underrated underdogs: whether a late blooming college player, or the immigrants that spent so many years working to shape our own destinations.
The conclusion I came to draw is undeniable: with the team I always had around me, I was set up to win big games my entire life.
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