Selflessness, loyalty and humility.
These words capture Tom Brady’s actions yesterday. As reported by Sport’s Illustrated’s Peter King, Tom Brady agreed to a three-year extension of $27 million over those three years, sending a message to all professional athletes.
Less is more.
Less is more because Tom Brady can get any deal he would like. He could have choke out the New England Patriots into giving him a contract in the range of a Drew Brees or Peyton Manning because you can argue he deserves to be paid $100 million in five years like Brees.
But he didn’t.
Brady chose to not constrict the Patriots in contract talk because he is looking at the bigger picture. He sees as each year passes, it is getting more difficult for him to get to the Super Bowl and win. For the past nine seasons, the Patriots have not won a Super Bowl and in those nine seasons, Tom Brady never lost a step. He has remained the most feared quarterback in the NFL today and if it were not for a season-ending injury in 2008, who knows what else Brady may have accomplished by today?
Brady sees in this big picture another trip to the Super Bowl because by taking a pay cut, he has allowed the Patriots to get free agents that will help them over the next three years that Brady is there. It allows the Patriots to re-sign Aqib Talib and Wes Welker and look into this year’s free agency pool for other additions and in the three years to come.
If it were not for the Patriots drafting him, the world would have never known about him. He never expressed grievance, never was unhappy with the team, and never asked for a trade. When it came for the Patriots to re-sign him, they gave him the money he deserved, $72 million over four years, which made him the highest paid player in the NFL, until Brees blew him out last season. Did Brady ask for more money during this extension talk? No, he took less then Brees because he wants to stay a Patriot and is loyal to the New England fan base.
Taking less is a message that should resonate with every athlete in professional sports today. It is not about the money. It is about your love for the sport and the loyalty to your team. That’s what makes sports the world’s culture. Us as a society gravitate to a team we like and stay loyal to the team by following their practices, cheering when they win and crying when they lose. As you see with franchise players that left their team, cough, LeBron James, cough, they take more in the hopes of receiving more. James finally got a ring, but he needed Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Miami in order to so. Tom Brady didn’t need anyone but Bill Belichick and the New England fans. He was, is, and will be the heart and soul of the New England Patriots.
We saw last year given all the controversy surrounding the New Orleans Saints, Brees kept pushing for a large contract, and when the Saints caved in, Brees became the richest player in the NFL. What did he do? He lost 4 out of the first 5 games, ended the season 7-9 and did not make the playoffs. Brady made less and made it to the AFC championship game. Need I say more?
Money doesn’t make you a better professional athlete. It’s a number. It’s your performance, attitude, and personality that make up your image. Brady’s performance speaks for itself, he’s never been in trouble and always is respectful, and whether you love him or hate him, he stays true to his word and loyal to his team.
Let this be a lesson for current and future athletes.