Commentary

Teammates answer Brady's call

QB's leadership shines through at player-only practice

Updated: June 1, 2011, 11:46 PM ET
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com

It's no secret that quarterback Tom Brady has great command of the huddle. What he pulled off Wednesday reinforced that his impact stretches far beyond the huddle -- it's locker-room wide.

Brady helped organize a Patriots workout at Boston College and the turnout was impressive. More than 40 players showed up, a group including veterans and rookies, players on offense and defense. The message seemed clear: Tom calls, teammates answer.

That's what leaders do, and Brady is one of the Patriots' best. But he's not the only one, and while it would be easy to single out Brady, one shouldn't overlook the contributions of captains Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, among others, when it comes to what unfolded Wednesday and is scheduled to take place over the next few days.

Tom Brady
Michael Loccisano/Getty ImagesTom Brady, who spent the offseason doing lots of non-football activiites like watching the 137th Kentucky Derby on May 7, is back to focusing on football.

Mayo, arguably more than anyone, has been a leading presence during the lockout by organizing Massachusetts-based team workouts on a daily basis for 10-15 players. Mayo previously said this offseason is all about which team "beats the lockout," and a significant number of teammates have taken his lead.

Brady, who has been spending the majority of his offseason in Calfornia, simply helped take it to another level on Wednesday.

The debate rages on the value these player-only workouts have from an Xs and Os perspective, as it's challenging to get meaningful work in without the oversight of a coaching staff. Where the workouts seem to help most is from a camaraderie standpoint, as this marked the first time that Brady and his veteran teammates were on the same field with some of the club's rookies, including first-round pick Nate Solder and quarterback Ryan Mallett. Considering the rookies don't have playbooks and hadn't met most of their veteran teammates prior to Wednesday, that's significant.

Brady's work is consistent with other teams who have held similar sessions, with the quarterback often a catalyst. Mark Sanchez previously hosted a "Jets West" camp, Drew Brees has been leading Saints workouts, Tony Romo has done the same with the Cowboys, as did Eli Manning with the Giants. Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick had 37 Bills teammates in Western New York last week, and Tim Tebow recently hosted Broncos teammates in Jacksonville. Those are just a few of the teams and quarterbacks who have arranged workouts this offseason.

For Brady, the shift in his offseason training has been a hot topic in recent years, especially as he's been photographed on vacations with his wife, supermodel Giselle Bunchden.

Early in his football career, Brady was a regular in Foxborough, taking pride in being an offseason award winner and earning one of the coveted parking spots outside the team facility. But in recent years, he's spent most of his time in California, mainly because of family considerations, returning primarily for organized team activities and minicamps.

Last March, with Brady's contract extension yet to be reached, owner Robert Kraft said, "If you're asking me if I'd prefer he be here the whole offseason, yes. To me, he's the most unique, special leader and player in the NFL. ... They are voluntary. He has a family. Look at your lives, you've all changed. So it's priorities."

Brady went on to put together an MVP-caliber season, proving that one can stay away from voluntary workouts and still play at a high level.

Now this. Brady, a lead plaintiff in the players' antitrust case against the NFL, helped get most of the band back together in Boston as he is back in town for his Best Buddies charity event later in the week.

When Tom calls, teammates answer.

Mike Reiss covers the New England Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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