When sports fans discuss athletes, it is often said that competitive drive and work ethic are what separate the greats from the pack. Tom Brady would certainly fall into that category.
While it's easy to look back on what has already been a Hall of Fame career and wonder how such a gifted player could slip to the sixth round, the truth is the player himself believes his sheer ability warranted such a selection. But anyone who's watched and listened to Brady over the years understands his game is about much more than physical gifts.
Check out a selection of photos from day two of Patriots Mini-Camp which took place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.
"If you want to be special at this game, you have to do what it takes," Brady said Wednesday following the second of three mini-camp practices in Foxborough. "Some things come a little more naturally to some people than others. The mental part came naturally for me. I think I've really had to work hard on the physical part, what it takes to be an NFL player. There was a reason I was a sixth-round pick. I didn't have much ability. I have to try to work hard to improve those things over the years, while still keeping my mental game sharp."
Good news Patriots fans: Brady shows no signs of letting up on that hard work. In fact on Wednesday he was one of the last players off the field after running some sprints while tethered to strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash.
The quarterback then spoke to the media for about 10 minutes and many of the questions dealt with the team's preparations for the upcoming season. He spoke of the importance of continuing the work that began in the spring, and returning for training in five weeks ready to build on that experience.
"We really had our vacation and I think that part is over," Brady said. "Not that you shouldn't enjoy time with your family and stuff like that, because for the next seven months we're pretty busy every day. It's really a time to start accelerating your preparation; basically what we've done these last four weeks, you know the things to improve on -- maybe it's conditioning, maybe it's any particular aspect of your game that showed up in this particular camp and have five weeks to focus on it and make it better so you can come into camp at the most important time at your best.
"We'll see when we put the pads on," he continued. "This is important to understand what to do, a little bit how to do it, but ultimately you have to go out and execute it. It's different when the pads come on, because there are running plays, pass plays and play action. Here, they know we're not running the ball, so the strength and physicality and mental toughness of the team doesn't show at this point. We have to see what we're made of once we put the pads on. That's when guys really can find a role for themselves."
Of course Brady also discussed the arrival of second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo, a pick that caused quite a ripple throughout New England. But Brady was quick to include Ryan Mallett, who once again did not participate in practice while dealing with an apparent injury, in the discussion.
"I've really enjoyed working with him," Brady said. "I think he's obviously a very talented young man. He works hard every day he's been out here at practice. And Ryan Mallett, one of my good friends out here, he's missed a couple days but we have a good quarterback room. I think everyone displays really good leadership, a good positive attitude. We try to be the ones that are held accountable every day for our actions. If the quarterback messes up, it's hard to make a good play."