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February 3, 2012

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about legacies.  What is Tom Brady’s legacy?  What is Eli Manning’s?  How will a win or a loss this Sunday in the Super Bowl affect their legacies?

Yesterday, I had the honor of speaking with Tom Martinez. You remember Tom; he is Tom Brady’s mentor and coach. I wrote a post on him, in December, right after we lost to Green Bay, about how he is in need of a kidney transplant.  Well, if you don’t remember, Tom Martinez has been coaching Tom Brady since Brady was a teenager.  So as you can probably imagine, we talked a great deal about the Super Bowl.

Tom said that it’s a hard game to predict, there are so many factors.  He said, “It’s a game within a game.”  There are a million little games within one game; who wins the most little games usually wins the big game.  All the factors you can’t predict—turnovers, injuries, penalties, mistakes—they are what often decide games.  One persons’ mistake, for instance, can cost a team, like Billy Cundiff’s missed field goal and Kyle Williams’ fumbled punts.  As Tom said, “You can be a hero forever or a goat forever,” and he thinks these are unfair extremes.

At the end of the day it’s just a game.

But it’s a game we love, isn’t it.  That’s what makes fans so passionate.  It’s what drives us to do and say crazy things—from booing our favorite players when they make a mistake to the extreme of sending them a threatening tweet.  The latter is utterly unacceptable, but what is considered acceptable and is at the same time astounding, is how short our attention spans can be, how we can judge players on their latest achievements or failures without considering the past.  Like when the Patriots lost Super Bowl XLII, everyone focused on the loss; no Pats fan said, “It was a tough loss, but what a great season.”

This is why Tom Martinez says he feels sorry for both teams, the Giants and the Patriots, because someone has to lose.  Both teams deserve to win, there is no loser, but someone has to lose the game.

Who will win and who will lose is hard to figure out, hard to predict, again because of all the factors, all the little games within the game.  What is for certain is that this game will feature two highly capable quarterbacks.

Tom has coached Tom Brady on his mechanics since Brady was a teenager.  What makes a great quarterback, in his opinion is “consistency, accuracy, velocity, judgment and studying.”  Tom couldn’t emphasize work ethic enough.  That’s the problem with many of the college kids coming into the NFL, in his opinion: “They have million-dollar arms and fifty-cent work ethics.”

This is not the case with Tom Brady, nor is it the case with Tim Tebow.  I had heard that Tom said he could “fix” Tebow in two weeks.  He corrected me and said he was misunderstood—it could take 3 weeks.  Mechanics is what Tom could teach Tim and with his, Tim’s, work ethic, Tom is confident that he could improve and become the more consistent pocket passer that he needs to be in order to have long term success in the NFL.  He sees potential in Tebow and called him the “ultimate leader.”

So what does Tom think of Eli?  He said, “I really like him and always have.”  Mechanically, Eli does what Tom teaches—most of the time.  He pointed out that occasionally Eli still throws when he’s off balance and he would like to see him do less of that—don’t we all Tom, don’t we all.  He also said he admires how Eli is not the guy looking for attention—he doesn’t seek it, he doesn’t need it.  Tom thinks that Eli is undervalued and would receive more credit if he weren’t Peyton’s brother.

Getting us back to the question of legacy.  After speaking with Tom, I don’t think we should be talking about how this one game will determine the legacy of these two great quarterbacks.  Sure it will affect it, but it is only one piece.  To borrow from Tom, it’s one of the million little pieces that make up the man.

Tom and I may be rooting for different quarterbacks, different teams on Sunday, but there is one thing we are both rooting for and that is for Tom to find a kidney.  Tom Martinez is in need of a kidney transplant.  He received good news recently; he has been accepted as a patient at Johns Hopkins, which means he is stable enough to undergo the transplant surgery.  Now all he needs is a donor. is the organization trying to help find Tom a living donor.   Tom Brady recently posted a link on his Facebook page to Tom’s profile on and about 400 donors have volunteered to be tested to see if they could be a match for Tom, of those, about 75 people have gone through to start the process of being tested.   A match for Tom hasn’t been found yet, but they are still waiting on some of the results, plus, 3 people so far were a match for someone else on the site, which is amazing in and of itself.

If you or someone you know is interested in finding out if you could be a match for Tom, please visit  Tom would also like potential donors to know that his doctor at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Robert Montgomery, is one of the best transplant doctors in the country and the procedure is typically safe for the donor. echoes this: “Although there are risks with undergoing any surgery, most live donors do very well and have no physical ill effects or alterations in their own health.”  In addition, “There is an overwhelming satisfaction of giving life to another human being who would otherwise have a very poor quality of life or even die while waiting for a transplant.”  According to, seventeen people a day die waiting for transplants.

The wait for Tom has certainly been difficult and frustrating.   There have been several times where he’s been close but sometimes the blood type matches and the tissue doesn’t, so he’s trying to maintain an even keel, trying not to get too emotional.

Although Tom admits he wants a kidney, he says if he doesn’t get one, he hopes at least he is able to raise awareness about living donors.  He has visited several donation centers across the country and every chair is full.  He knows not everyone is aware of what can do to help them.  Tom would love to live longer, he has a lot more to give, but if he doesn’t get the chance, he’ll be fine if his legacy is that he made more people aware of living donor transplants and if he helped other people realize that you can make things happen for yourself.

In life, as in sports, it’s not if you win or lose, it is how you play the game.

Best of luck to both the Patriots and the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI and best of luck to Tom Martinez.

If you would like to learn more about Tom please visit and check out Diane Sawyer and Josh Elliot’s piece on him at


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