In the ninth episode of the “Man in the Arena” documentary series, Tom Brady explored the end of his time with the Patriots.
The main focus was the 2018 season (culminating in the Super Bowl LIII victory over the Rams), but the show also touched on Brady’s final thoughts on playing in New England for Bill Belichick.
Unlike the previous episodes, where Brady and several guests were interviewed, the ninth installment (titled “Maybe”) is only about Brady and former Patriots teammate Julian Edelman.
Here are some takeaways:
Brady’s thoughts on Edelman’s evolution
Although they would become a close partnership on the pitch, Brady initially viewed Edelman as a player with potential that lacked polish.
“I didn’t know much about Julian except I knew we were going to spot this kid from Kent State who I think was ultimately a better football player than a wide receiver,” Brady said.
But by 2018, the former “soccer player” had become a multiple-time Super Bowl winner and one of Brady’s most trusted targets.
“Julian has stepped up his game to a ridiculous level,” Brady said of Edelman that season. “He has become a driving force for our team and [from] a different time than when I started my career, Julian has kind of become the true type of Patriot that a lot of the guys before him were.
He later credited Edelman’s drive and work ethic for reaching his absolute potential.
“It was spectacular. That’s all I would say, ”Brady said. “He was the ultimate outperformer. “
Edelman on his injury in 2017, and the “business” of the NFL
In a pre-season game against the Lions in 2017, Edelman tore his ACL.
“I got out of my base, tried to cut at high speed, terrible technique, probably getting a little too cocky there and I blew my knee,” he recalls.
One of Edelman’s most interesting observations in the entire episode was his description of his absence from football for a year and the mental weight he carried.
“You spend a lot of time away from the game and you watch your team come out and be successful, you start to think, and you start to get hungry and you start to go crazy,” said Edelman. “You start to try to compete with yourself every day.
“Injury in professional football or any kind of professional sport, it’s so psychologically demanding because you want to see your team do well, but you don’t want to see your team too well because then, hey, that. is a business. “
Ahead of the 2018 season, in which Edelman would return from the missed season due to injury, he was suspended for taking performance-enhancing drugs.
The former receiver never directly addressed the subject of drug use in the documentary, although he did add more about how difficult it is for him without football.
“It has been a very difficult year for me, strictly because I am not playing the game that I love,” said Edelman. “You sit and think every day about yourself, your game, your life, this, what’s going to happen. Because the one thing that is probably the scariest thing for an athlete is the unknown.
Thinking back to his suspension, Edelman had mixed feelings.
“Looking back, it was almost a blessing in disguise,” he began.
“But not great,” Edelman quickly added. “Not a big thing.”
Awakening Against the Titans
Ahead of a Week 10 clash against the Titans, Brady said he contacted former teammate (and now Tennessee head coach) Mike Vrabel.
“Against Mike, I remember talking to him about shit the day before,” Brady said. “I called him on his phone and [he’d] been a friend of mine for a long time.
But it turned out that it was Vrabel’s Titans who had the last laugh. The Patriots, despite going 7-2 on a six-game winning streak, lost 34-10.
“We got our ass kicked,” Brady said bluntly. “They put it on us pretty well. They probably played one of the best games they’ve played all season and really embarrassed us.
The game taught Brady and the Patriots a lesson.
“It just showed that if we played badly and another team played very well, they could beat us by  points, ”Brady said. “So it just reinforces your sense of practice, focus, determination, planning, strategy, all of those things had to go a long way. “
“In the end, you are still wrong”
In 2018, the Patriots didn’t end the regular season with a signature winning streak like in previous Super Bowl seasons. This, unsurprisingly, was a sign to tipsters that New England were not destined to win another championship.
“One of the big perks that I think our teams have always had is that we took the extra time not to rest, but to get better and better,” Brady said of the week. leave from the team.
“There is a lot of humility in that. You have to be able to solve the problems that we are not good at, ”added Brady. “We go to these playoffs and it was like, ‘Yeah, we’re probably not the strongest team on paper.'”
Edelman noted that despite skepticism from football pundits, the Patriots were still good enough to earn a week off.
“It’s the crazy wait factor that we see with New England,” he explained.
“But I was confident because I started to feel better,” continued Edelman. “It was starting to line up for me. When you tear your ACL, you relearn how to walk, gain stamina and be able to go out and play in week 1, I don’t know. I wasn’t able to play in week 1 but felt quite slow in week 4 so it allowed me to get ready and get ready for December and January. That’s when I started to peak.
The Patriots quickly dispatched the Chargers in the divisional round, 41-28. Brady admitted he relished proving the predictions to be wrong.
“It’s good for me every now and then to get a subtle photo just to make sure people know that, ‘Yes I can hear you, but in the end it won’t affect [me], and in the end, you’re still wrong.
The AFC Championship
Ahead of covering the AFC championship, Brady added an interesting reminder to the Patriots’ notable loss to Kansas City in 2014 (a game that became famous for being a low point heading into that year’s Super Bowl run. ).
“We were there in 2014, and we didn’t play well and they destroyed us. It was the strongest I can remember from a football stadium, ”Brady said. “I’m happy to have had that experience because when we went there for the playoffs, the AFC championship, I knew how strong the game was going to be at the start. So there was no intimidation.
Thinking back and forth, Edelman had a dramatic memory of one of the pivotal moments. Trailing in the fourth quarter, it appeared the Chiefs had intercepted Brady on a deflected pass. It would have almost sealed Kansas City’s trip to the Super Bowl.
“I have never been afraid [in] this game until [the would-be interception]”Edelman admitted.” Then I just sit there like, ‘We really lost that f ****** game? Damn, this offseason is going to suck.
Fortunately for the Patriots, an offside penalty from defensive lineman Dee Ford canceled the interception, returning the ball to New England.
“Then I saw the flag, oh we’re back, let’s go,” Edelman recalls gleefully. New England took advantage of their second chance.
Ultimately, the Patriots came out victorious 37-31 in overtime and tied for the Super Bowl.
The good and the bad of Belichick
Brady and Edelman both rang while playing for Belichick.
“Coach Belichick and I had a great relationship for so many years, but it was still player-coach,” said Brady. “He was there to coach football. I was there to play football. He had always said that there was no one I would rather play as a quarterback for our team than you, and I felt the same for him as a coach.
“I loved how he focused us in the biggest moments and here we are again in the biggest moment,” Brady said of Super Bowl LIII.
Edelman was more outspoken.
“I mean Bill is a really tough guy to play,” he explained. “It seemed like the more popular you were the better off you were, the more he would like to crush you a bit.”
“He demands a lot of you, and you hate him sometimes, but I mean, you like him a little bit,” Edelman added.
Brady’s comparison to the Super Bowls
In the eighth episode of the documentary (which covered the Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles), Brady noted that despite the Patriots’ ability to score points, he never really felt like the team had control of the match.
But in Super Bowl LIII, Brady contrasted his experience even as New England were less effective on offense.
“For some reason we always felt a little bit in control,” Brady said of playing the Rams in that game. “Even though we weren’t playing very well, we kept getting a position on the pitch, we kept moving the ball, we were on the brink.
“If you compare to the previous year when we were constantly on the move [the ball] on the pitch and scoring points, and constantly putting the ball in the end zone, I always felt that the game was not in our control, ”said Brady.
In the end, the Patriots “found ways to adjust to the fourth quarter of the game,” as Brady explained.
New England made enough plays and held on for the sixth Super Bowl of the Brady-Belichick era.
The last word on Belichick
In the final moments of the episode, Brady moved on (beyond the end of the 2019 season) to his final thoughts on playing for Belichick before leaving as a free agent in 2020.
“We found an amazing working relationship together and I think he was the best coach I could have ever asked for,” said Brady. “We had our challenges at different times, but they were just times.
“They don’t define what the relationship was,” Brady added. “At the end of the day, we accomplished things that no one had ever accomplished in NFL history.”
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