No matter the outcome of Super Bowl LI, New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady is among NFL’s best. The pride of San Mateo is not only known for his excellence but his generosity in giving back to the community.
From Super Bowl Media Day, Tom Brady showed a side he often does not reveal. When asked who his hero was, Brady was emotional when talking about his father. His family has been important throughout Brady’s life. The side he revealed is the person who is thankful for all the opportunities he got. This is evident through the generosity and outpouring of support he has given back to his alma mater.
Junipero Serra High School takes pride in educating young men through their mission and philosophy. Through the Serra community, students are expected to become men of faith, wisdom, service, community, and leadership. Through the school prayer, students are reminded of the spirit of Junipero Serra, and to7 never to give up. With Serra’s vision, dedication helps to grow in faith, maturity, and life for tomorrow.
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Serra has produced many exceptional athletes who have gone on to make impacts whether on or off the field. Barry Bonds gave fans a thrill hitting home runs for the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants. Lynn Swann won multiple championships as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Joe Kmak proudly shows his only career home run with the Chicago Cubs to the math classes he teaches at Serra. All are proud to have attended Serra.
As for Brady, he has truly encompassed the message of Junipero Serra as an athlete. Many only see Brady leading the Patriots to victory. But many do not know the impact Brady has made in the San Mateo community, especially at Serra High School. Brady has given back both in both athletics and academics.
After winning Super Bowl XXXVIII, Brady was named Super Bowl MVP after completing 32 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns. His award included a Cadillac, which he donated to Serra High School. Every year, Serra holds an annual auction in the fall for fundraising to provide students the best education. Students had extra incentives to sell raffle tickets as an football, helmet, and jersey, all signed by Brady would be given away if the required amounts were reached.
News of the raffle spread across the country. Calls came in requesting to buy raffle tickets. In the end, Brady’s donation has been Serra’s most successful auction. Regardless of the odds of winning the car, the outpouring of generosity made a significant impact on the Serra community. The winner of the car was a Serra alum. Second place may not have been a car, but was an opportunity to attend a Patriots’ game and meet Brady. Overall, the fundraising for Serra was the biggest and is unlikely to be eclipsed.
In support of Serra Athletics, Brady has given contributions to ensure athletes have the necessary gear. The football stadium is named Brady Family Stadium to show the importance of his family. His father is part of the Serra community, serving on the board of regents at Serra.
But perhaps his biggest impact came when he was the keynote speaker at Serra’s Annual Fund a Dream Benefit. The goal of the benefit is to give future Serra Padres the opportunity to receive an outstanding education financially. Brady was humbled for having received a Serra education and wanted to ensure all prospective students had the chance. He wanted to set a record and donated a large sum. From all the donations received, Brady’s total was the largest to date.
A multi-sport athlete at Serra, Brady could have chosen baseball. He was drafted in the 18th round by the Montreal Expos in the 1995 MLB Draft. Instead, he chose football after getting the starting job as varsity quarterback his junior year. His prospects for colleges was different compared with recruiting seen today by colleges. After Serra, he attended Michigan and led the Wolverines to wins in the Citrus Bowl and the Orange Bowl respectively.
As the 2000 NFL Draft occurred, the possibility of Brady playing for his childhood team, the San Francisco 49ers, was a possibility. Instead, the Patriots’ selected Brady in the sixth round with the 199th pick. Little did NFL teams who passed on Brady or the Patriots know, a star was in the making.
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Brady’s emergence came in the 2001 season after an injury to starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe. While the “tuck rule” favored Brady in the playoffs, to the dismay of the Oakland Raiders, New England had someone special. The result: Brady’s late heroics set up an Adam Vinatieri field goal to win Super Bowl XXXVI over St. Louis.
Currently, Brady is tied with childhood idol Joe Montana with four Super Bowls. On Saturday, appearing in his seventh Super Bowl, Brady can cement his legacy as an all-time great with his fifth title. Had the New York Giants not been the Patriots’ kryptonite in previous championships, Brady would have already surpassed Montana’s mark.
Opportunities to play against the 49ers’ in San Francisco have not often come for Brady. His one chance to play at Candlestick Park never happened as an injury ended his 2008 season in the opener against Kansas City. However, the opportunity finally came – at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. He led the Patriots’ to a win over the 49ers.
Regardless if supporters of the 49ers’ or Raiders, the Bay Area should stand behind Brady on making potential history.
Any criticism on Brady, especially deflate-gate, is only wasting breath. Roger Goodell’s personal vendetta on Brady over a non-issue only shows his failed leadership as commissioner. He may be changing his tune now, but he has caused enough damage through his tenure.
Tom Brady embraces the moment no matter how big the stage is. He is the model of consistency and plays the game with integrity. Through the spirit of Junipero Serra, Brady shows how to act on and off the field. For all, he has done, and what he will do next, Brady will forever be the pride of San Mateo.