Tom Brady has maintained peak performance for longer than most, and in his life after football he wants to help others do the same. He made that known loud and clear during his weekly interview with WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show with John Dennis, Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane on Monday morning.
"This is what my calling will be after football is to educate people and what it really takes," Brady said. "Because a lot of people really want to work hard, and they do work hard based on the system that's already been in place.
"What happens when you're working hard at the wrong thing is you just get better at doing the wrong stuff, and then you break your body down faster, and then you have a shorter career than you anticipated even though you thought you were working hard. I believe if you work hard at doing the right thing, whatever it is, with my throwing mechanics, or studying my playbook, or dealing with the right coaches . . . You could have the [worst] golf swing, and if you went on the golf course and you practiced it a thousand times, you're just practicing getting worse.
"At some point You gotta figure out what the right things are, what the right message is, something that works for you, and then if you work hard at that, maybe you will see significant improvements. That's certainly what I believe in."
The topic of Brady's post-football plans came up after a lengthy back-and-forth with the show's hosts about Brady's "body coach" Alex Guerrero, who was featured in a Boston Magazine article published last week.
The story chronicles Guerrero's past, including run-ins with the FTC due to products pushed by Guerrero that made false claims. You can read the details of the Boston Magazine report here.
Brady, who runs the TB12 Center at Patriot Place with Guerrero and has called Guerrero his best friend, came to Guerrero's defense during the interview. Here is how the Patriots quarterback responded to questions about their partnership and the philosophy behind Guerrero's methods.
On if he knew about Guerrero's past, and if so, why he chose to go into business with him: "I think when it comes to a story like that, I think there's a lot of . . . I don't know the details of each of those incidences, but I think it speaks to he as a person, as a friend, there's nobody better or that I enjoy as much as Alex. He's been an incredible influnce in my life, and I think we're doing something really special with our business. So much of what we talk about, Alex and I, is prevention. It's probably a lot different than most of the Western medicine that is kind of in a way, I'd say in professional sports or any sport in general, you kind of just play the game until you get hurt. And then you go to rehab, and you try to come back, and you try to play your sport again. So much for me and what we try to accomplish with what my regimen is and what my methods are and the strengths of my belief systems is trying to do things proactively so that you can avoid getting injured. For example, that hit yesterday that you talked about [from Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy], where I got hit in my back, I think that's really a credit to the work that we've put in over the years so that my body can withstand those types of hits. My structure doesn't take the brunt of those type of hits. That's all about injury prevention. A lot of times you've gotta pay those, you gotta pay the price in advance for that."
On whether or not Brady aware of the details of Guerrero's false claims earlier in his career: "Parts of it, I did . . . We've talked about several things as it relates to that, and he's dealt with that, Kirk. That's part of his life and that's something that happened 13 years ago . . . I think you reading a two-page article and thinking that you have all the details of the entire case of that . . . Everything as it relates to that is something that Alex had to deal with and he dealt with that. Again, nutritional supplements and FTC regulation and all of those types of things are . . . there are a lot of gray areas in that. I'm someone who does take nutritional supplements. I take a green supplement. I take different supplements to try to help my body recover from the vigors of the training that we do. I try to eat really well. I try to have a clean diet so that I can play and try to prevent inflammation in my body. I do that so I can play for long periods of time. You may say what you want, and a lot of people may have opinions on things that may work for them, and I think what I'm trying to do is communicate ways for all athletes, young, middle-aged, older athletes, ways that have worked for me and that have really proven over the last 10 years to be very sustainable and a very holistic approach to taking care of your body so that I can perform. So many players have knee replacements and hip replacements, and when they're done I hear stories, concussion stories, all the time. We've treated lots of people with concussions down at TB12 with incredible success. If any three of you are ever injured and you want to come down and check it out, you're more than welcome. I think it'll be a great education for you. A lot of it is different philosophies. Different theories. A lot of people do what's right for them."
On whether he still takes Neurosafe to protect his brain, a product Guerrero used to distribute, one that Brady vouched for via Guerrero: "I did at the time. Absolutely. It was a different product. Alex didn't develop that product. He distributed it because he really liked what it was about. He said, 'Look, you're going to get hit in the head. If you do get hit in the head, at least you want to do some things proactively to try to prevent things that may or may not happen to your brain.' I think that's actually an incredible thing. I think so much of what we do in Western medicine, like you said, you get hit in the head and, 'What have you done previously to try to prevent those things?' That's kind of our approach to medicine. 'Let's wait until you get sick, let's wait until you get hurt, oh, and then we'll treat you.' How about trying to find ways to prevent yourself from that even happening. I think that's a much better approach to medicine. Certainly it's a much better approach to me as an athlete because the only way that I can perform at a high level is if I'm actually out on the field. If I just wait until I get hurt and break my body down to the point where I can't go out and play, well then I won't be on the field, and I won't help my team. Ten years ago when I spoke with Alex, and I think why we got along so well was because we talked about all these things. Being proactive with your own career. Being proactive with your own life. What are the things that you're going to do that may be different than what other people may believe in? But I also . . . When you say that, 'Wow this sounds like quackery . . .' There's a lot of things that I see on a daily basis in Western medicine that I think, 'Wow, why would they ever do that? That is crazy. That doesn't work.' That's just the way life is. I think there's a lot of things that are the norm that are very systematic that really don't work."
On if there's more to Guerrero's history with the FTC that the public doesn't know: "I didn't read the whole story. I didn't read the whole [FTC interview] transcript. I know what I've spoke with Alex over the years and I have tremendous belief in Alex and what he's accomplished with me. In the 10 or 11 years we've been working together, he's never been wrong. I had doctors with the highest and best education in the country tell us, tell me, that I wouldn't be able to play football again. That I would need multiple surgeries on my knee from my staff infection, that I would need a new ACL, a new MCL, that I wouldn't be able to play with my kids when I'm older. Of course I come back the next year and we win Comeback Player of the Year. I have all of next season, and we win MVP of the year. It's like, you know, it's interesting because, like I said I've chosen a different approach and that approach works for me. That's what I want to try to provide to athletes that maybe want to take a different approach too."
On being the best advertisement that Guerrero could ever have: "I'm the best advertisement that I could ever have. Absolutely. That's how I believe. That's how I feel. Look, if I just go out there and keep playing well, and keep obviously, it takes a certain level of commitment and discipline, and that's what I'm willing to do."
On if Guerrero regrets certain elements of his past: "Yeah I definitely think there's things he wished he would've done differently. I mean I think that's part of growing up and understanding that there's certain things that happen in your life, that you do, you wish you didn't do certain things. But the belief system that I have is something that Alex and I share very closely."
On if he shares his views with teammates if he sees them eating unhealthy foods: "If they ask, but I also think . . . Yeah of course they taste very good and of course all those companies make a lot of money selling those things. They have lots of money to advertise. When you go to the Super Bowl, who are the sponsors? That's the education that we get. That's what we get brainwashed to believe that all these things are just normal food groups. This is what you should eat. Then when you get sick, these are the things you should take when you get sick. I like to try to avoid those things. It's a lot of philosophical things. I do try to convince and talk to my teammates about lifestyle choices and how that may affect their career, and everyone has a different belief system on how they want their career to go. Some guys just wanna play two years. Some guys want to play four years. Some guys want to play eight years. Some guys, like me, want to play a lot longer than that, probably because they've been told that they could never play. I think that is something that is motivating for me to prove people wrong. I think that's, once again, as it related to what you eluded to earlier, me trying to perform at a high level over a long period of time has to do with keeping my body in the right condition to be able to do that."
On whether Brady and Guerrero's philosophies will be available in a book or on a website for people to read: "It will be at some point. We're working on a lot of things in our business to try to educate the masses. I think that's . . . You guys, I'll get you a copy when we do have a book someday that outlines all the different methods that you need to believe in . . . It's good for everybody. It's good for everybody. It'll be good for you guys when you get to see it because it might be different than what you thought that you've been educated to . . . You know, because a lot of us, you see something on TV and you say, 'Oh, that's what it is. Whether it's a Coke commercial or if it's a doughnut commercial. And don't get me wrong, those things taste great, and everything in moderation. And too much of a good thing is not a good thing. I am a person that believes in, you know, I treat myself at certain times to the same things that you guys probably treat yourselves to. I think balance in all things in life is a good thing. Obviously having your body in balance is really important. Certainly keeping your arm in good shape, and it kills me to see all these pitchers that have this Tommy John surgery, knowing that can be avoided. Hamstring pulls and groin injuries and so many of these things I shake my head at and I go, 'I can't believe that this still happens in today's day and age.' "
On if there were other aspects to Guerrero's involvement in the FTC story: "There was a lot of people involved in that business. And like I said, Alex has said that he wished he has done things differently in that. And he did. He settled that, and he paid the price, and at some point you've gotta move on with your life. For someone to bring up a story 13 years ago, that's no news to him. He lived it."
Told that, even if it's an older story people will find it interesting because it's new information, Brady replied: "I understand, but trying to sell a nutritional supplement of vegetables, Kirk, vegetables."
When told vegetables don't help terminally ill cancer patients, Brady said: "They may or may not. Who knows? Does everyone have all the answers for that. Do you have all the answers for that?"
As the interview ended, and Callahan said he had to go eat Frosted Flakes, Brady replied: "Go enjoy your fried Snickers bars and we'll talk next Monday afternoon."