It’s been almost four months since Tom Brady lost the single biggest influence in his football life.
Tom Martinez was his throwing coach. His mentor. His adviser. You name it.
And then, while waiting on a kidney transplant, Martinez died on Feb. 21 from a heart attack during dialysis. It happened to be his 66th birthday.
“I had a great level of comfort with Tom over the years,” Brady said. “He was always someone I could call on to rely on him. I know he’s watching down with every throw and I hear his voice in the back of my head after every throw. Throwing the football is about mechanics. There’s nothing special. It’s just a matter of doing it the right way. The better mechanically you are, the more accurate you’re going to be able to throw the football.”
Martinez taught him that, and Brady perfected it. Now, five months after he lost the Super Bowl 21-17 to the New York Giants in Indianapolis, Brady is pushing forward, aiming at 2012. On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, he and the Patriots went through the motions at a Gillette Stadium minicamp.
“When you’re not accurate, there’s a reason for it. It’s not like, ‘Hey you’ve got to throw the ball more accurate.’ No, there’s a reason. What are you doing?” Brady asked. “I’m constantly evaluating every throw. I watch every practice. Every rep I take in practice, I have someone film and I watch it after practice. I just make sure I’m continuing to work on the right things because ultimately when you’re under pressure, your body is going to revert to what it knows.
“Muscle memory is a very important thing for a quarterback. Hopefully, you train your muscles to react the way you need them to react when the pressure is on the most. That allows you to throw the ball with velocity and accuracy. The tougher the games get, the closer the coverages, the more accurate you need to be.”
Brady threw for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns last season, using many of the mechanics Martinez taught him in California as the veteran quarterback was in high school, preparing for his collegiate career at Michigan. Martinez didn’t coach Brady exclusively, of course. In fact, he also mentored John Elway and JaMarcus Russell over the years, and he followed Bill Walsh and John Madden at the College of San Mateo before being forced to retire due to health concerns.
“I have to rely on what he’s taught me over the years. I have a lot of stuff written down of things we’ve talked about and things that I’ve learned, and I have a great understanding of mechanically what I need to be able to do. It’s just a matter of seeing it and being able to correct it. Hopefully, you can correct it between series sometimes,” Brady said. “You don’t always have the fortune to wait until Monday to figure things out. Sometimes you have to figure them out in the middle of the third quarter. That’s something where I have to rely on what he’s taught me over the years.”