When the New England Patriots kick off their eighth training camp practice later today, it will not take long for the fans in attendance to recognize a birthday: Tom Brady turns 41 today, and the signs and songs honoring the NFL’s greatest ever quarterback will surely be plentiful. Brady has celebrated each of his birthdays since the year 2000 during the Patriots’ camp – and things have changed quite a bit since then.
“Over the last few seasons I’ve become a lot more aware of time, in general. It’s not just training camp or football – it’s everything,” Brady recently told Religion of Sports. Asked about his changing approach to the game and its preparatory process, the five-time world champion acknowledged that a lot of sacrifices have to be made not just by himself, but by his family as well.
“There’s a lot of sacrifice that goes into this not just from me, but from my family, too. My wife, my kids – I’m not as available during the football season,” Brady said. “For that reason alone, I’m conscious of a certain mental transition that begins to occur as camp gets started; an awareness of what it’s going to take for our team to succeed at the highest level. With that being said, I’m as excited as ever to try to achieve our team goals.”
In order to limit the sacrificial part that influences his family, Brady decided to take a new approach this offseason: for the first time since the early 2010s, he opted to skip voluntary workouts to train on his own and spend more time with his wife and kids. According to the quarterback, it was the right step to take at this stage in his career and life: “This offseason was very fulfilling for me.”
“Traveling to new countries, spending time with my kids and extended family, reconnecting with friends – it helped me recharge and get emotionally and mentally ready for another football season,” continued the 41-year old. The season, which will officially be kicked off on September 9 at home against the Houston Texans, will be Brady’s 19th in the NFL. “I am ready to go. Excited for the new challenge.”
This challenge does not only consistent of leading New England’s offense week in and week out, it also includes the balance between Brady’s professional and personal life. “My kids are getting older, and have more activities and busier lives, which makes the time we have together all the more precious,” Brady said. “It also means that the time I’m away from them – at practice, on the road, studying film, etc – has to be hyper-focused and efficient.”
“Life doesn’t get put on hold during the football season, but it does change,” continued the NFL’s reigning most valuable player in his usual diplomatic and thoughtful tone. “I just have to be a lot more conscious of how I spend my time. And I think that sort of awareness has allowed me to appreciate and be grateful for the blessings in my life.” But while this may sound like Brady has to shift his focus back and forth between family and job, he does not see it this way.
“I’m more focused than I ever have been,” said Brady – and judging by the Patriots’ first seven training camp practices, there is little indication that this does not ring true.