The Quarterback Whisperer Says Belichick Considered Trading a 36 Year Old Tom Brady

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Last week I mentioned Tom House, the former Major League pitcher who took his knowledge of throwing mechanics and applied it to football, becoming perhaps the world's foremost authority on sports most complex position:

What I didn't get into was how, long before House displayed his genius for speaking softly into the ears of quarterbacks, he coached the Texas Rangers pitching staff, particularly my favorite non-Red Sox pitcher of all time, Nolan Ryan. And was just on Rich Eisen's show comparing how he taught Tom Brady the same training methods he developed with Ryan to get each of them to perform at a high level well into their mid-40s. In fact, how his four principles of:

  • Biomechanics
  • Functional strength
  • Mental/emotional management
  • Nutrition and sleep for recovery

… to have six of the 10 pitchers on the Rangers staff pitch into their mid-40s as well. 

And you've got to hand it to the man. Even if you think this sounds like a lot of New Age pseudo-science gobbledygook, the results pretty much speak for themselves. In the same way that you might want to mock Tom Cruise for whatever his belief system is, but until that's you hanging from the side of a jumbo jet or running around the outside of a skyscraper, you've got no argument. What these guys are doing flat out works. 

But it's what he says in this clip starting at the 1:18 mark that I'm here for:

His story goes that, when Brady was 36 or so, he and House were coming off the field after a workout past Bill Belichick's office. And Belichick called them in and demanded to know, "OK, tell me why I shouldn't trade Tom Brady?" To which House explained that as long as he followed the program House presented him with, there was no reason Brady couldn't be as productive at 45 as he was at 25. 

Now to put this in context, Brady turned 36 a month before the 2013 season. Assuming that's the year House is talking about, that means he was three seasons removed from winning the MVP, two seasons from taking the Patriots to the Super Bowl, and in the previous season threw for 4,800 yards, with 34 touchdowns to just 8 interceptions, for a league low 1.3 INT%. And he was sixth in the league in passer rating, second in QBR behind only MVP Peyton Manning. And yet Belichick was considering the possibility of trading him. At least asking someone to make the case why he shouldn't.

Here's something for all the revisionist historians who'll use this as Example No. Infinity of Belichick's incomparable arrogance and egomania for even considering the idea. What they'll leave out is the actual result. They'll fail to mention that as a result of the conversation, Belichick didn't trade him.

He stuck with a 36 year old quarterback despite what the conventional wisdom, past practices, common sense and actuarial tables told him to. Because he sought out an expert, listened to what he was told, and applied it. That's the opposite of arrogance and ego. Being willing to accept advice, even unconventional advice, is the very definition of a flexible, pragmatic mind. 

Now bear in mind too that this was during a time when there were plenty of voices demanding the Patriots move on from Brady. As good as his numbers were in 2012, they were down from the previous years. The football media was doing the equivalent of one of those workplace safety signs, "IT HAS BEEN [8] YEARS SINCE THIS QB'S LAST CHAMPIONSHIP." At the time, I was doing a weekly segment with Felger & Mazz and they asked me if I'd be willing to trade Brady straight up for rookie Andrew Luck, and were semi-incredulous when I said no. 


Despite it all, Belichick took in what Tom House told him and stuck with his guy. As a result, his team went to the next six AFC championship games (making it a streak of eight straight) and won three more Super Bowls. You can focus on the fact that it all went south eventually. But by then Brady was pushing 43. And as we all know now, was done with life in New England. As was his wife. 

So do not weep it finally ended. Smile because the coach had the wisdom to make sure it went six years longer than it might have. 

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