Best Quotes from Tom Brady’s “Man in the Arena” Documentary


  • This ESPN+ series is a largely autobiographical retelling of Tom Brady’s career from the University of Michigan to seven Super Bowl championships. This documentary’s title borrows from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 speech “Citizenship in a Republic“, which includes the famous “Man in the Arena” quote: “It is not the critic who counts…”
  • Watch: Trailer, Video
  • Notes: Episode 1, Episode 2


Episode 1: In The Arena

“That particular quote (The Man in the Arena) was a Theodore Roosevelt quote that was in the weight room in Michigan when I first got there. I saw it every day for five years.”

This famous quote was just one paragraph in the middle of a one-hour speech, Theodore Roosevelt’s “Citizenship in a Republic” (1910).

Realizing my potential has been what my career has been all about. Things that I’ve dreamed about have actually come true. Things have happened in my life as I’ve kind of hoped they would happen.”

“I was born to be a football player.”

“I went to a college that was very focused on the team. And the roots of the Michigan program were built on what Bo Schembechler said:”

  • “No man is more important than the Team. No coach is more important than the Team. The Team. The Team. The Team.” — Bo Schembechler

“It’s about the team. And we ran out as a team and we celebrated in the end zone as a team. Because a team is a culmination of talent. And what can you add on a daily or weekly basis to get your team to win?”

Working hard is a very sustainable trait, part of your character. If you don’t have that, at some point the talent does wear off and you’re drafted based on your talent and your potential, but the sustainable part about talent and potential is working hard.

“Guys who were ahead of me were always physically way more gifted than me. I had to make up a lot of ground physically in order to catch them.”

Bill (Belichick) always used the line “you can’t win until you can keep from losing.” And that was a good lesson for us. If we could keep from losing, I think our defense was going to keep us in every game.”

“I love the bad weather because I feel like it slows everyone down, so my mind processes quickly but the game slows down, so my physical attributes as a player kind of match everyone else’s, slow and sluggish.”

[RE: Tuck Rule Game] “Without that play, there’s a lot of lives that are changed and trajectories of careers that are changed.”

[RE: 2002 Super Bowl] “I remember the people who run logistics for the league said… ‘this is the most secure place probably in the USA right now… There’s nothing that’s going to happen. You guys just feel free to play the game.’ And I think at that point we recognized like ‘wow, this is bigger than us.'”

“If you’ve never played in a Super Bowl, it’s super long. Like when you run out of the tunnel, it’s a different time frame. And you can over exert yourself… I went over to Tom and I just pulled him close and I’m like ‘bro, calm down. This is the biggest game ever. We need you. Just calm down and relax.” – Willie McGinest

“I think for Tom, it was an important lesson that you have to fight to stay in that position, to never give it up. You’ve got to do whatever it takes to continue to do what you do at a high level. Because there’s always that thought that the way I got my job, and what I went through to get it, there’s always someone knocking.” – Willie McGinest

You’ve got to be ready when your opportunity presents itself. I don’t think I was physically prepared. Was I mentally and emotionally ready? Absolutely.”

“I had a confidence in me. I always felt like, even going back to Michigan, I always said ‘man, if they put me on the field, they’re never going to take me off.'”

“I remember I was eating breakfast in Ann Arbor after a game one day senior year and my parents were in there with me… and I said ‘one day I’m going to be a household name.’ And I said it as a joke, but man I think I look back… fucking 23 years later and I go ‘fucking household name.’

“It’s like anything. It’s progress, and it’s evolution. It’s a series of small steps that seem so insignificant at the time that you’re making them but when you look back you realize the distance traveled.

“It’s been incredible for me to love what I’m doing. And to chase something for so long. And I’m still fucking doing it.”

Episode 2: The Toughest Things

It was about winning. That was probably the outcome. But the process of winning was what the culture was all about. It was, what are you willing to commit to be your very best. Personally, but as a team as well.”

“You have to put people around you that are gonna help you be the bet you can be. And if those aren’t the people, then you have to move on.”

“I’ve realized that the toughest things that I’ve faced in life have been the best things for me.”

“In 2002, I really had free rein… I look at those as some of the easier moments in my life.”

“And then life starts happening and I became a little more of a celebrity… The unique thing is I didn’t feel like I changed.

“In order to be great, that chemistry, those relationships that you build, that takes time and it needs to be genuine.” — Lawyer Malloy

“I felt his desire to be great. He watched and studied me and other people that were in leadership positions. He took the good stuff, fine-tuned it, refined it, and all the bad shit, he just got rid of it.” — Lawyer Malloy

“I think a lot of times after you come off such a successful season, you can kind of fall back on, maybe an excuse of, oh, we’ll figure it out. We already know what to do.”

I remember warming up, and hitting one of my guys, and knocking his helmet off. And Coach Belichick, when I was sitting in his office, he sat down and he said, “I remember in warmups when you hit a guy and knocked his helmet off.” That little attention to detail, that was the key moment that made me sign with the Patriots because this guy sees everything.” — Rodney Harrison

(RE: Lawyer Malloy getting cut) “That was the one that hit hard… It was the first time I recognized that this was a really tough business.

“As we like to say in New England, it’s not collecting talent, it’s building a team.” — Bill Belichick

“That was the Welcome to Pro Football moment.”

“We’ve always said “ignore the noise.” Living by, and practicing that, rather than “this is our rallying cry” and “this is our source of motivation.”

“The reason why we win isn’t because someone insults us. The reason why we win was because we ignore everything that everyone says, and we actually focus on the tactical things that matter.”

“More people who have no idea, who aren’t in the arena, who can’t influence anything, where it’s just another example in life: “Ignore the noise.” No one knows.”

“Believe in yourself. Believe in what you’re doing. Believe in your process. Believe in your teammates. These are the things that are important. These are the things that matter.”

“Mental toughness is how you deal with adversity. What is the attitude of your heart? Are you going to be grumpy? Or are you going to embrace failure? Are you going to embrace challenges?” — Rodney Harrison

“When I look back at that time (2003), it was a really growth stage part of my career. It was a development of myself as a player but also as a person off the field. I was soaking up all the information.”

“I look at some of these young players, and they’re like “what do you think of this guy in his third year or fourth year,” and in my mind I’m thinking, “okay, he’s talented, but who’s going to teach him how to learn and grow?””

“I had Coach Belichick there to teach me. Every Tuesday we would meet and go through the entire defensive starting lineup and their strengths and weaknesses. What we could attack, what he was watching, and how I could see the things that he saw, so I could gain confidence and anticipate.”

“Tom was very blessed because he had structure for his career. And that’s what Coach Belichick gives you. He gives you structure, and he gives you expectations.” — Rodney Harrison

“You install your game on Tuesday night. You refine it on Wednesday, Thursday, and pretty much by Friday it’s set in stone. You’d still watch tape from Friday night all the way through the start of the game.”

“Belichick was the master of setting up scenarios, giving us opportunities, like situational football in practice.” — Rodney Harrison

“I respect and admire Peyton (Manning) for everything that he did. He had great command, he was the quintessential field general. If there was someone to look up to, it was him. If we were going to beat anyone, that was the guy I wanted to beat.”

“There’s nothing guaranteed vin any of those games (Super Bowls). Basically, put all your collective energy together to formulate the best game plan possible and then you go out there with the highest sense of awareness, but you’re going up against the toughest opponent, and you have the smallest margin of error.

“I think we instilled fear in other teams because we were all going to compete to be the best we could be on that field every single game.”

“Everyone wants a clutch kicker. And you don’t know how much you need a kicker until the whole season’s one the line for that one moment. And there’s no one we’d rather send out there than Adam (Vinatieri).”

“And you can see in all these games (Super Bowls) it took literally that much (pinches fingers) to win. And that’s the difference between being remembered and not being remembered.”

“When I think of that 2003 team, that was the ultimate group that accomplished the highest in a really dominating way. And we shared something in that time that was really the essence of what team was all about.”

“I’ve used sports as a metaphor for so much of my life. So when you think about doing your job, how does that apply to life? Well, be the best husband you can be. Be the best father you can be. Be the best at your job you can be.”

“You can’t control everything. And, if you have perspective, in the end, nothing bad really ever happens. Because out of the bad comes the really good things. And if you take that and you learn from it, then they become positives. And for me, that’s how I choose to view my life.”

Published by Neil Thanedar

Neil Thanedar is an entrepreneur, investor, scientist, altruist, and author. He is the founder & GP of Utopic, a pre-seed biotech VC fund investing in the future of science. He is also the founder & chairman of Air to All, a 501(c)3 nonprofit medical device startup, and Labdoor, a consumer watchdog with $7M+ in funding and 20M+ users. He previously co-founded Avomeen Analytical Services, a product development and testing lab acquired for $30M+ in 2016. He has also served as Executive Director of The Detroit Partnership and Senior Advisor to his father Shri Thanedar in his campaigns for Governor, State Representative, and US Congress in Michigan.