Tom Brady as Post-Graduation Inspiration

By Sean Kenney on January 28, 2021

On February 7, 2021, Tom Brady is set to play in his 10th Super Bowl. That is an astounding number considering that this year is the 55th Super Bowl ever. He has already won 6 Super Bowls and this could be his 7th. This year he is playing with an entirely different team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, than he has played with the rest of his entire career. The fact that this is his first year in Tampa Bay and he has already vaulted them into the Super Bowl while winning three road games to get there, is another testament to his career accomplishments. It is this resume that often leads to many in the sports industry labeling Brady as the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time).

Photo Credit: James Coller / Maize and Blue Nation via https://www.flickr.com/photos/maizenbluenation/29670423041/

Brady was drafted in the sixth round, 199th overall, in the 2000 NFL draft. Six quarterbacks were drafted ahead of him, of which the only other quarterback “to win an AFC East title since 2001 is Chad Pennington.” So what does this have to do with post-graduation inspiration? Brady was overlooked 198 times and by every team in the draft, including the one that eventually drafted him, the New England Patriots. Yet Brady used that to his advantage, a chip on his shoulder so to speak. He did not let the underwhelming expectations NFL teams had of him dictate his career. He used it as fuel to accomplish amazing things. He has won more Super Bowls than any other quarterback in history and more than most entire franchises have won. He owns so many records, accomplishments, and has had so many successes in his NFL career that if I noted them all, they wouldn’t fit in this article.

Let this be a lesson and an inspiration when long days and nights of searching for a career post-graduation seems fruitless. When you have put in 50 applications and received no interviews. When every job you look at asks for experience you don’t apparently have or know how to obtain. When you feel overlooked and hopeless, let that be your fuel. Know your worth and potential, and tell yourself that every employer that overlooks your uniqueness as an individual will be missing out when you obtain a great job that in the future doesn’t know what they would do without you. Be confident in yourself and don’t allow an initial lack of success to discourage you from reaching your goals.

Attaining a four-year degree in itself is quite an accomplishment. I remember nights at the library or one of my favorite local food joints, pounding away for hours on my laptop. Needing my power cord because my laptop would die before I finished that night’s project. I took my first community college course in 2002 and by 2006 was on academic probation after withdrawing from the final course I would take in years, a stress management class. I returned with new fervor in 2012 and slowly obtained my AA degree, transferred to UC Berkeley, and obtained my BA in 2020.

Now I find myself in a position similar to Brady. Generally overlooked for my lack of experience or specific skills. Yet that doesn’t mean I cannot accomplish great things. I don’t expect to win any Super Bowls or make it to the NFL. I wouldn’t want to be drafted anyway. At my size, it would be a death sentence. Yet I can draw from Brady’s accomplishments and realize that success is not just about how others view you, but how you view yourself.

Brady didn’t need an NFL team to think highly enough of him to be drafted near the top; in fact, he used the perceived slight to go on to accomplish great things. So when you find yourself struggling post-graduation to find meaningful work, or any at all, remember what you have already accomplished by obtaining your degree. Don’t wait for others to believe in you — believe in yourself and keep persevering.

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