A number of New York Giants coaches and players have deep ties to Tom Brady, the quarterback they will face tonight in their matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here are some of the stories they told about Brady in recent days.
Giants’ defensive coordinator Patrick Graham
Graham coached in New England from 2009-2015. He tells the story of meeting Brady for the first time.
“I still remember the first time I met him. He introduced himself to me, I was a young QC [quality control coach] and I was in there early in the morning in the offseason. I was working on the exercise bike and I had my hoodie on and I had my head down and I was just on the bike. This told you a lot about Tom, there were not a lot of players in the building at the time. I felt someone tap on my shoulder, you could imagine my first year in the league, it’s like maybe the first month I’m there. I look up and boom, it’s Tom, he was glowing and stuff. He was like, ‘hey, I’m Tom’, and I’m like, ‘yeah’. I didn’t say my name and then eventually I said my name. I always thought that was cool.”
Graham lauded Brady’s leadership.
“He leads by example. I have a lot of respect for him as a football player, as a man. He was never too big to talk to, whether it was me as a defensive quality control or a rookie wide receiver. That’s what makes him special. I haven’t seen anybody work as hard as him, be as studious as him. In front of the meetings, when Bill used to have meetings, he was up there in front taking notes. It shows the hard work pays off from what you see on the field.”
Giants’ head coach Joe Judge
Judge was an assistant coach in New England for several years with Brady.
“This guy is clearly one of the best to ever play the game. He’s playing at a very high level ... This guy hasn’t had much drop off. He’s playing at a very high level. He has the guys around him playing at a high level as well. One thing about Tom is he’s a very intelligent player. He thinks ahead of the play, he’s always looking for answers, he’s very proactive in how he sees the game, he understands the personnel on the other side extremely well. He’s been in all of the situations, however you slice it up, as many times as you can possibly imagine, whether that’s through practice or games. This guy is fluent in football. Look, he’s a great player. I think the thing you have to always keep in mind with Tom is he’s as tough and fierce a competitor as there has ever been in any organized sport. This guy really is truly one of the great ones.”
Judge admitted that watching and listening to Brady was an education, even for coaches.
“I learned a lot of ball being around him. How he sees it through a player’s perspective. The things that come up in a game and how he handles it. Hearing the way he kind of picks receivers’ brains throughout a practice or things he may see pre-snap. I got a lot of knowledge just listening to him talk to other guys on the team. To me, one of the most beneficial things was you could go in during training camp and you put on the one on one period, receivers versus DB’s. A lot of times you run it as a coach, there would be other times where we would let the players go ahead and do it. You would let Tom go in there and talk to the receivers about what he’s seeing and what he expects on a certain route. To me, that made you a much better coach by listening to how the quarterback sees it and what he expects on each route ... To be able to hear through the vision that Tom had, that was really an education in itself right there.”
Giants’ QB coach Jerry Schuplinski
Brady had been quarterbacking the Patriots since 2000 when Schuplinski became a first-time assistant quarterbacks coach with New England in 2016.
“Obviously I have a ton of respect for him, everything he’s done ... the career he’s had has been awesome. When I had the opportunity to come in there, they had it rolling, him and Bill [Belichick] and Josh [McDaniels] ... The best thing we could always do and i could always do is just listen sometimes ... It was really cool to see him operate on a daily basis ... It was awesome. An experience that I’ll be forever grateful for.”
Giants’ defensive back Logan Ryan
Ryan played with Brady in New England. He also had an interception of Brady in the AFC Wild-Card Game last season that effectively ended Brady’s Patriots’ career.
“Like fine wine, he keeps getting better. Twenty years of experience, arguably, I think the best player to play the game, the best quarterback. He does everything he can to figure out the defense. He’s a great point guard in this league where he just distributes the ball to his playmakers. He has everyone playing well for him ... He brings the best out of his teammates. He is one of the greatest teammates I ever had. He makes everyone around him better and that’s what I see in Tampa. The same old Tom Brady to me and that’s excellence.
“Definitely the interception was a big play in my career, a big play in both our careers. He reached out to me afterwards. I had dropped one earlier in the game and he said why can’t you drop them both? I said even though I like you, I can’t drop them both. We have much respect for each other. To me, he’s the ultimate test as a player. He’s like the final boss in Mario or whatever game you might play when you’re on the last level and they have hammers and cannonballs and everything going off in the game. He presents every threat to you possible. You have to stay super locked in. As a competitor, I feel like he brings the best out in me because I know I have to be my best in order to compete with him. I love playing against him because it’s the greatest challenge in football, definitely mentally, and physically, as well.”