FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — It’s been almost four months since Tom Brady lost the single biggest influence in his football life.
Tom Martinez was his throwing coach. His mentor. His adviser. You name it.
And then, while waiting on a kidney transplant, Martinez died on Feb. 21 from a heart attack during dialysis.
It happened to be his 66th birthday.
“I had a great level of comfort with Tom over the years,” Brady said. “He was always someone I could call on to rely on him. I know he’s watching down with every throw and I hear his voice in the back of my head after every throw. Throwing the football is about mechanics. There’s nothing special. It’s just a matter of doing it the right way. The better mechanically you are, the more accurate you’re going to be able to throw the football.”
Martinez taught him that, and Brady perfected it. Now, five months after he lost the Super Bowl 21-17 to the New York Giants in Indianapolis, Brady is pushing forward, aiming at 2012. On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, he and the Patriots went through the motions at a Gillette Stadium minicamp.
“When you’re not accurate, there’s a reason for it. It’s not like, ‘Hey, you’ve got to throw the ball more accurate.’ No, there’s a reason. What are you doing?” Brady asked. “I’m constantly evaluating every throw. I watch every practice. Every rep I take in practice, I have someone film and I watch it after practice. I just make sure I’m continuing to work on the right things because ultimately, when you’re under pressure, your body is going to revert to what it knows.
The Patriots are now off until July 26, when they report to training camp. The key between then and now for Brady & Company? Do not treat the next five weeks as vacation.
“We’re in full preparation mode. This is the point where things really start getting ramped up. There’s no breaks. We had our vacation,” he said. “We had a lot of time off, and now it’s time to really focus in on what we need to do because we’re going to blink and the first game is going to be here. You have about five weeks and everyone should use it really wisely, get in better shape, better football shape, have a better understanding of what we’re doing so that we can go out there and when training camp starts, you can really get off to a great start.
“I’ve got a long way to go – a long way to go – nowhere near where I want to be or need to be.”
He’ll get there, of course.
Martinez wouldn’t have had it any other way.