Tom Brady's Ex-Patriots Teammates Discuss QB's 'Jordan-Like' Tendencies, More

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2020

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady jogs onto the field before an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

Tom Brady and Michael Jordan each won six championships, but the longtime New England Patriots quarterback's former teammates say comparisons to the NBA GOAT go beyond the number of title rings.

ESPN's Jenna Laine spoke with some of Brady's former Pats teammates after he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason. The links to Jordan consistently popped up at a time when MJ's legacy is being reviewed during The Last Dance documentary about the 1990s Chicago Bulls, which concludes Sunday night.

Former Patriots lineman Damien Woody discussed the confidence Brady exuded.

"I've never been around somebody in the huddle where you just knew—you just knew there was no way we were gonna lose. He was so prepared. His drive, his will to win—it was Jordan-like. This dude hated to lose, didn't want to lose, and you as a teammate just felt like, 'We need this two-minute drill to go win this game, we got this in the bag.'"

That trait—the hatred of losing, a driving force perhaps even greater than the desire to win—has been attributed to not only Jordan, but many of the best athletes in history.

"It's the biggest factor for me. Like, if I lose, all hell breaks loose, literally. Literally! I go home, I practice harder, I do more," tennis superstar Serena Williams said in 2013. "I don't like to lose. ... I hate losing more than I love winning. It could be a game of cards—I don't like it. I really don't like it."

Meanwhile, last Sunday's episodes of The Last Dance spotlighted Jordan's aggressive approach in practice, where he challenged teammates and often directed colorful language toward those he felt weren't competing at a championship level during the workout.

He was shown hurling derogatory remarks toward teammate Scott Burrell, which he explained as his effort to convince a player described as one of the nicest guys in the NBA to reach his full potential. One of the episodes also detailed a fight he got into at a practice with Steve Kerr, who now serves as the Golden State Warriors' head coach.

Former New England wide receiver Donte Stallworth said the level of competitiveness was similar with Brady, who wasn't afraid to push teammates, per Laine.

"Him and Mike Vrabel would go at it all the time. I mean, all the time, Rodney [Harrison], Asante Samuel—they loved jawing at each other," he said. "When people talk about Jordan being competitive—it was the same with Tom Brady."

Stallworth also told Laine about Brady's attention to detail in practice, remembering a two-minute drill that was supposed to wrap up practice but didn't end how the future Hall of Fame quarterback wanted.

"I saw Brady like begging Josh McDaniels, the offensive coordinator, to give us one more chance to go again because he didn't want to end that way. We all knew that was the end of practice, but Brady comes over to all the receivers and was like, 'I wanna go one more. ... We can't end on that s--t.' And it's like, 'What are we gonna say? No?' Of course not."

David Terrell, Brady's teammate at Michigan who was briefly a member of the Patriots in 2005, told Laine the quarterback having to fight for a chance to start for the Wolverines set the stage for everything that came next.

"'F--k everybody'—that's his mental state," Terrell said.