(Photo credit: Susana Bates, For News)
When the private coaching lessons started over 25 years ago, he was a 15-year-old quarterback nervously preparing for his first career start on his high school JV football team. Today, that quarterback is Tom Brady; five-time Super Bowl winner, four-time MVP, and arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. Even with all of his success on the field and 17 years of coaching from future Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick, Brady still remembers the advice of quarterback coach and mentor Tom Martinez.
Martinez had a long history of success as a coach. For 32 years, he coached football, women’s basketball and softball at the College of San Mateo and collected 1,400 wins along the way. His success as a coach was based in teaching mechanics and motivating his athletes to continuously improve themselves. “Mechanics should be coached on a daily basis, and I don’t know that it is. It’s like Tiger Woods’ golf swing or Michael Jordan’s free throws,” says Martinez. With Brady, Martinez worked to refine the quarterback’s mechanics, focusing on his footwork, elbow placement, and stride.
Brady still takes every piece of advice from Martinez and attempts to emulate it play after play, game after game. “Throwing correctly is a difficult motion,” Brady says. “In order to be accurate, it takes a lot of steps. He sees all those things. He never misses any.”
The two worked together in many off seasons in California for years and shared messages after games during the season; occasionally, Brady would fly Martinez out to Boston to get immediate coaching on his mechanics. Martinez was more than willing to help, even with his declining health. An excellent example was in the 2011 season opener versus the Miami Dolphins. Martinez worked with Brady on the field and in a film session to help him improve his accuracy. Following that tune up, Brady led the New England Patriots to victory and threw for a team record 517 yards.
After nearly 20 years of coaching, the relationship between the two became more than just coach and athlete. “I love him,” Brady said of Martinez. “He’s just a special person to me, and always will be.”