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Self-made man

Brady's success a testament to dedication, hard work

Posted: Thursday January 31, 2008 11:37AM; Updated: Thursday January 31, 2008 12:59PM
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Tom Brady's frustration with his lowly spot on the Michigan depth chart spurred him to remake his body and rebuild his confidence.
Tom Brady's frustration with his lowly spot on the Michigan depth chart spurred him to remake his body and rebuild his confidence.
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Kevin Krystofiak is on his way to Arizona this week, a living reminder that Tom Brady's football career was not built on touchdown records and undefeated seasons. Krystofiak was the starting quarterback of the freshman football team at Junipero Serra High in San Mateo, Calif., in 1991. The team went 0-8 that season, scoring two offensive touchdowns. "I was a really bad quarterback," Krystofiak said.

That does not say very much for Brady, who spent the year as Krystofiak's backup. At the end of the winless season, Krystofiak quit the team to concentrate on basketball. As a result, Brady became the starting quarterback for the junior varsity.

"To be honest, I think the coaches would have moved me to defensive back, anyway," Krystofiak said. "Tom always had a better arm than I did."

They both found success. Brady went to Michigan to play football; Krystofiak to the University of San Diego to surf. Now, Krystofiak is working at Prudential in San Francisco; Brady is playing in his fourth Super Bowl on Sunday.

"The thing about Tom," Krystofiak said, "is that he was never given anything."

When someone is as accomplished as Brady -- as rich and talented and handsome and universally respected -- it only makes sense that he got every break along the way. But Brady is actually distinguished by all the breaks that went against him, starting in '91, and how he responded to each one. The setbacks are what separate him.

As a sophomore, Brady started at quarterback for the JV, thriving in the team's wide-open offense. At the end of the season, though, Serra coach Tom MacKenzie told Brady he would have to work harder in the weight room to play in college.

Brady promptly went home and convinced his parents to find him a personal trainer, as well as an off-season quarterback coach. Relaying that anecdote years ago, MacKenzie said: "I don't think we ever had to tell him to work harder again."

In two seasons on the varsity, Brady's record was a modest 11-9. He signed with Michigan, for the chance to be a seventh-string quarterback. He was beaten out first by Scott Dreisbach, then by Brian Griese. Brady charged into the Michigan football office, looking for head coach Lloyd Carr, intent on transferring to Cal.

Instead, he did something that seemed even more extreme at the time. Just as Brady hired a personal trainer when he needed to bulk up in high school, he sought out a sports psychologist when he needed to mellow out in college. From the psychologist, he learned to worry less about the other quarterbacks on the roster and more about himself.

"That was the low point," said Scot Loeffler, who coached and played with Brady at Michigan, in an interview before the 2005 Super Bowl. "But those hard times paid off. From then on, he just decided that he was going to be our starting quarterback."

Brady's biographical history -- from Serra to Michigan to New England -- has been well chronicled over the years. And yet, it bears repeating right now, because Brady's roots are so much more revealing than the joy ride that his career has become.

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