What Tom Brady Can Teach Us About Regeneration

Shifting From G.O.A.Ts (Greatest of all Time) to G.C.A.Ts (Greatest Conditions of All Time)​

By Jeff Su

Tom Brady won his 7th Super Bowl and 5th Super Bowl MVP, and the debate about whether he is the GOAT – The Greatest of All Time will be raging in the sports media this week. This article is not to try to weigh in on the GOAT debate, but instead, I believe there is another title we can give Tom Brady and it has something to teach us about Regeneration. Rather than giving Tom Brady the GOAT title, I believe we should give Tom Brady the title of GCAT for creating The Greatest Conditions of All Time.


Ok, I know this potentially dangerous territory to talk about Regeneration and Tom Brady. There is a lot about the NFL, Football, the Super Bowl that is deeply non-regenerative and problematic: Colin Kaepernick, concussions, salary discrepancies, Native American mascots, “world-champions” despite no other country having a chance to compete, franchise tags, football vs rugby (it's an apples to oranges comparison – give everyone on a rugby field a weapon on their heads and shoulders, remove all tackling regulations, make 1/3 of the players 3x bigger than the rest and make the smaller players stand still when getting hit and we can have a proper debate), and of course that the rest of the world means something else when they discuss talk about Football. 


I should also say before I jump into the regeneration connection that I am not a neutral voice in this debate. I am a HUGE Patriots fan. I am 51 years old and grew up in Massachusetts. Which means I suffered through the 70’s and 80’s Patriots teams before Brady and Belichick and the Patriots Dynasty. I paid my dues as a fan, my favorite player growing up was Rich Camarillo the 5-time Pro-Bowl…. punter. However, the connection to Regeneration I wish to share has nothing to do with that fact that I am huge fan. It has to do with WHY, I am a huge Brady fan.


In the GOAT debates there will inevitable a list of statistics like the following:

  • This is Brady’s 10th Super Bowl appearance. Other than his old team, the New England Patriots, no NFL franchise has appeared in more than eight.
  • Brady has twice as many Super Bowl appearances as any other quarterback in league history. John Elway is second with five.
  • Brady has won more Super Bowls (Seven) than any other QB has played in.
  • Twenty-seven teams have played in fewer Super Bowls than Brady has won. 

However, none of these statistics is why I am huge fan. I am huge fan because of statistics like these and I believe it has something to teach us about regeneration:

  • Tom Brady is 43 years old, the oldest player to every play in a Super Bowl and attests his longevity to his 20-year commitment to his holistic health routine including strict diet, sleep, and flexibility.
  • Tom Brady was the 199th and 7th quarterback picked in the 2000 NFL draft.
  • He came off the bench in 2001 after starting and future Patriots Hall of fame quarterback Drew Bledsoe got hurt.
  • In his first 6 games he was 3-3, and threw 7 interceptions, and had an average QB rating of 66.2
  • Brady frequently took contract extensions and restructured his deals to help the Patriots address other positions, giving up at least $60 million in his career, and maybe as much as $100 million.

So, what does this have to do with Regeneration?


The GOAT debate is focused on lists of outcomes and superlatives like the first list. In fact, we could easily say the O in GOAT stands for outcomes.  However, the second list points to Brady’s 20-year commitment to creating the best possible conditions for success. His commitment to the long-term health of his body has been called “pathological.” The has also famously did what he could for 20 years to creating the economic conditions for Patriots to build a championship team. I am a huge fan of Tom Brady not because of his GOAT (Greatest Outcomes of All Time) but because of his commitment to creating the GCAT (the Greatest Conditions of All Time).


Furthermore, Tom Brady’s story teaches us about emergence. There is no way anyone could have anticipated that when the 199th pick came off the bench in 2001 that he would achieve any of the outcomes he has achieved.  Four games later in 2001 the Denver Broncos media remembers thinking “We, in Broncos Country, had our fingers and toes crossed, hoping that Bledsoe would need more time to recover so that we would get to face Brady.” 

Finally, Tom Brady’s career teaches us about a commitment to development over time. We forget that it took time for Tom Brady to become Tom Brady. Although Brady is currently third in total number of game winning drives, in this same game against the Broncos he threw 4 interceptions in the 4th quarter on potential game winning drives. The Broncos won 31-20 and Brady ended the day with a passer rating of 57.1. 


What Tom Brady’s story can teach us about regeneration is that when we focus on the creating greatest conditions for health (GCATS) and allow for development, completely unexpected outcomes (GOATS) are possible. Tom Brady’s story is not the only sports story to exemplify these qualities. Phil Jackson, the NBA coach of both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, wrote in his book Eleven Rings (based on his 11 championships):


“The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success, then let go of the outcome.”

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