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Thoughts on Leadership: Lessons From a Legendary Quarterback

Editor’s Note: This is Blefari’s most recent column, originally published on Feb. 9, prior to the Super Bowl. 

With this being the Thursday eve of Super Bowl and Black History Month, I want to give a shout out to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Did you know this is the first Super Bowl ever with both teams starting a Black quarterback? It’s a historic moment for the sport, for our country and for the millions around the world who will be tuning into the game this Sunday.

And while we’re on the topic of football, let’s talk about probably the greatest football player of all time, none other than the GOAT Tom Brady who announced his retirement on February 1 of this year.

If you took Tom Brady’s first 21 seasons and broke them into three distinct periods, every seven years he accomplished enough to become a first-ballot Hall of Famer. His first seven years match up perfectly with Troy Aikman’s career. His next seven years match up perfectly with Dan Marino’s career, and his last seven years match up with my own 49ers Joe Montana’s career.

Let’s look at the stats:

Troy Aikman Era: Tom Brady’s 2000-2006 Career vs. Troy Aikman’s Career

  • Division Titles: 5 vs. 6
  • Super Bowl Titles: 3 vs. 3
  • Super Bowl MVP: 2 vs. 1
  • Regular Season MVP 0 vs. 0

Dan Marino Era: Tom Brady’s 2007-2013 Career vs. Dan Marino’s Career

  • Division Titles: 6 vs. 5
  • Super Bowl Appearances: 2 vs. 1
  • Regular Season MVP: 2 vs. 1
  • Pass Touchdown Leader: 2 vs. 3

Joe Montana Era: Tom Brady’s 2014-2020 Vs. Joe Montana’s Career

  • Super Bowl Titles: 4 vs. 4
  • Super Bowl MVP: 3 vs. 3
  • Regular Season MVP: 1 vs. 2

So that’s three Hall of Fame careers, and with another Super Bowl win and a passing record in 2021, and another record-setting passing season in 2022, (breaking his own 2021 record) if he played another five years, my money would be on Brady to have a fourth Hall of Fame career.

Beyond all the amazing numbers, he’s one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time because of the high standards he sets for leadership excellence. His career is proof that with hard work, perseverance, and a selfless, put-your-team-before-everything mentality, you can achieve anything. These are some of his incredible traits that make him such an outstanding leader on and off the field:

  1. The power of preparation: Brady is known for his meticulous preparation, both on and off the field. He spent countless hours studying game film and working on his technique, which allowed him to perform at a high level consistently. Brady went to sleep at 8:30 every night to get proper rest and maintained a strict diet to be in top form for every game. This attention to detail serves as a reminder that preparation is key to success in any field. And his preparation started early; even in high school, Brady would invite his teammates to his house to review tapes while his mom made them lunch.
  2. The importance of teamwork: Despite being one of the best players in the NFL, Brady has always emphasized the importance of teamwork. He recognizes that success in football, or any sport, is the result of everyone working together towards a common goal. This lesson can be applied to any organization or team, where the collective effort of everyone is more important than individual achievement.
  3. Mental toughness: Brady has faced numerous challenges throughout his career, including injuries, controversies, and more. However, he has always remained mentally tough, focusing on what he can control and not getting discouraged by setbacks. This level of mental toughness is a key attribute of great leaders, who must be able to remain calm and focused even in the face of adversity.
  4. Adaptability: Brady has had to adapt to new systems, coaches, and players throughout his career. He has shown that he is capable of quickly adjusting to new situations and that he is open to new ideas and approaches. Leaders who are adaptable and open to change are more likely to be successful in today’s rapidly changing business environment.
  5. Passion for excellence: Brady has a relentless drive to be the best and to win. He is always striving for excellence and pushing himself and his team to perform at their highest level. This level of passion for excellence is infectious and inspires others to strive for their own personal best. During the 2021 Super Bowl, Brady texted the team on a nightly basis: “We will win.” Those three words reinforced Brady’s confidence in his teammates and drive for excellence.

So, what’s the message? Tom Brady is a successful quarterback and a great leader who sets high standards. Tom Brady yelled when his teammates weren’t meeting his expectations. Tom Brady barked at coaches and was allegedly tough during practice. “Let’s go! Do it again! Line up and do it again!” He’d say. But all that proves he not only holds his teammates to a higher standard of accomplishment but also demands they achieve it.

This article is adapted from Blefari’s weekly, company-wide “Thoughts on Leadership” column from HomeServices of America.

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