Jan 28

Ever been said you’ll never make it?

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Ever been said you’ll never make it?

Its easy to conclude after the recent Superbowl game that quarterbacks Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes had always been destined for American Football stardom. However, neither were exactly welcomed into their chosen sport with open arms…

 An unappreciated player

From the beginning, Brady made a hard choice. Instead of accepting a place at University of California where they said he would be the starting quarterback, he chose to go to the University of Michigan. His family, who lived near the University in Califirnia, weren’t particularly happy as that meant he would have to leave home. However Brady said of the decision:

“There hadn’t been much adversity in my life up to that point. I needed to toughen up. I had to go.”

As he was to find out, this transpired to be a genuinely hard path – he hardly played games in his first few years and even in his final year was effectively second fiddle to the starting quarterback. When he graduated, his aspirations in the NFL were hardly encouraging – he was seventh in line to be selected as a quarterback for the New England Patriots.


Mahomes excelled at a range of sports from a young age. Whilst he was moderately successful in college football, his path looked set to follow his father into baseball. – Mahomes Senior had been a Major League Baseball pitcher. To some degree this put NFL scouts off – why spend time looking at a player who was most likely going to choose another sport? However he continued his interest in football. Whilst he did well at college there wasn’t much interest in him outside of Texas.

When it came to the 2017 NFL draft, the press were hardly encouraging, offering predictions that he would be capable but uninspiring. The NFL analysts considered that there were several quarterbacks who were better than Mahomes. In fact, one paper said:

“He is nowhere near ready to play in the NFL, he may never be”.

USA Today

Fast Forward

At the Patriots, Brady’s intangible skills stood out. He emerged as a natural leader (something that helped him this season with the Buccaneers) who was empathetic around team members. He was also extremely determined. This enabled him to find his place in the team and as starting quarterback won six Superbowl titles.

Mahomes had been spotted at college by the Kansas City Chiefs co-director of player personnel, Brett Veach. He liked the way that Mahomes played, something later picked up by an NFL analysts who commented about his ability to freelance and make things up – an ability that is very rare in quarterbacks. Fortunately the draft picks worked in the Chief’s favour and they were able to secure Mahomes.

As we now know, Brady won his seventh Superbowl as the Buccaneers beat the Chiefs. However it was a great contest pitting Brady and Mahomes against each other.

Brady is the most successful player in NFL history in terms of Sueprbowl wins, not bad for a player who was underappreciated in their early years.

Mahomes has a huge future – Among quarterbacks with at least 150 pass attempts, he has the highest regular-season pass rating and postseason pass ratings in NFL history. He is still only 25 and he won the Superbowl in 2020. Again not bad for someone written off as (probably) not good enough to play in the NFL. This was his first, but provided he stays fit, will not be his last…

Whilst there can only be one winner in the game, its clear that Brady and Mahomes are both winners in life with both having proved themselves to be extraordinary players. Not bad for a couple of people who weren’t initially considered good enough to play the professional game.

What we learn

Several things come to mind:

  • Determination won’t always get you there, but you won’t get anywhere without it.
  • Often the harder path is the one that leads to greater success. So ask yourself, do you need more (good) challenge or adversity in your life? Are you too comfortable?
  • Just because someone else has the opinion that you’ll never make it, you don’t have to accept this thinking. We’d never have heard of either Brady or Mahomes if they had chosen to accept other people’s beliefs. You have a choice, either prove yourself or quit.
  • If you are hiring, are you too quick to dismiss the people who don’t fit? Its quite clear that the ‘mould’ that NFL scouts look for in the ‘average’ quarterback doesn’t fit either Brady or Mahomes.
  • Sometimes you need to nurture raw talent.

One thing you can conclude, Brady and Mahomes are far from average… and hopefully there is more to come from them both yet.

If you’d rather try and prove yourself than quit, why not give us a call? #StartSomething or #ChangeSomething.

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