It’s eight:35 on an impossibly clear and bright morning at a non-public motel in the Bahamas. A whisper of wind rustles the palm timber, and tucked down a golf cart course, shielded by flowering timber, there’s a freshly marked-out soccer field with two yellow uprights on either stop. Apart from a gallery of seagulls, there’s nobody around except Tom Brady, his instructor, excellent friend, and cofounder of TB12, Alex Guerrero, and Brady’s manager, Kevin Bonner. In character, the 42-year-old Brady looks approximately 30, and he is not the form of a movie star who appears less good-looking or more ordinary in real life. He’s bigger and taller than you might count on, with large hands and thick limbs, and he radiates self-belief together with his icy blue hawkish eyes and disarming smile. “We want you to capture some balls nowadays,” he says, grinning my way. “You ready?”
Every summer season for the past seven years, the New England Patriots quarterback has come to this far off-island for a seashore boot camp. It’s an intense part of his routine, with him training two to a few hours daily to reinforce his arm, % on extra upper-frame muscle to soak up hits, and sharpen his footwork and acceleration to elude pass rushers. As Bonner unzips an egg-carton-like duffel bag with six sports balls nestled internally, Brady uses a golf laser rangefinder to test the yardage. It’s slightly off. Guerrero walks down the sideline, putting down cones every ten yards, measured using Brady. The QB slips into his shoulder pads, dons a silver helmet, and warms up using a white hand towel rather than a ball. He unfurls that clean-throwing movement that has tortured opposition players and thrilled New England fans for 19 years,
culminating with a flick of the wrist that snaps the towel.
Bonner and I placed on receiver gloves and unfolded out ten yards downfield. Bonner’s advice: “Just place your arms up, and the ball will hit them.” Brady begins throwing quick bullets, and Bonner’s tip is useless: The balls slice through the recent air and slam into my arms. Brady is going through the gears, throwing 20-yarders and then 30-yarders. Then we drop to 60 yards. This is a maximum-attempt drill for distance. Brady is throwing down the sideline, launching six passes at some length and as immediately as viable. Our job is to seize the balls and position them down where they might land. Guerrero and Brady tinker with his drop, bounce, step, torque, and release. When a skip wobbles off course, Brady shouts to the palm trees, “That’s an interception.” When I drop an ideal spiral, he screams at me, “That’s the sport winner!”
After the six passes, he jogs down, inspects the cluster, and sips water from his 64-ounce Klean Kanteen. Most balls are within five or ten yards of one another around the 60-yard cone. He tells me his arm is as robust because it turned when he entered the league, and I accept it as true with him. Catching these bombs is chewing up my forearms; they’re etched with lace marks and could be bruised for days. Later, Brady tells me that only approximately 10 percent of his passes do what he wants them to do in games. “Sometimes I launch the ball, and I know it’s best. I throw it with the exact pace and arc that I wanted and to the precise place,” he says. “But after I throw it and it doesn’t do this, in my thoughts [I’m thinking,] I’m fucking shit—what did I do wrong? I fucking overstrode. Too little torque.”
Guerrero notes that Brady will hardly ever throw 60-yard passes in a game. Last season, his longest pass became forty-nine .9 yards—by contrast, 23-year-old Bills QB Josh Allen finished the league’s longest in 2018 at sixty-three. Nine yards—yet the point of these days’ drill isn’t to prolong Brady’s throwing range but to enhance his accuracy and velocity for shorter throws. He closes the consultation, zipping 30-backyard passes to special corners of the give-up a quarter. His arm is looser now, the balls flying out quicker. Brady notes the perfect receipts with a “There, it’s miles.” He has thrown closenearlyalls this morning, and he doesn’t want to forestall. “I’m a little tortured,” he says. “At soccer, I want it to be so proper.”