Jeff Gravley

Motivated by disappointment

Posted April 12, 2011

I am fascinated by stories of how athletes, coaches and people in general convert life's disappointments into fuel to continue their drive toward success. 

How will Rory McIlroy respond to his public collapse at the Masters? 

How did Jim Abbott pitch in the majors even though he only had one hand?

How did Josh Hamilton sober up in time to save his career and become the American League MVP?

How did Patriot's quarterback Tom Brady overcome the bitter disappointment of a draft day shun to become one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time? 

Tuesday night, ESPN continued their series on the year of the quarterback and their focus was on Brady's draft day. His father, Tom Sr., said they expected the Michigan quarterback to go in the second or third round.

Round after round passed. Quarterback after quarterback taken. Team after team left Brady on the board.

Round 3, Giovanni Carmazzi to the Niners. 

Round 5, Tee Martin by the Steelers.

Round 6, Spergon Wynn was Cleveland's selection.

The wait for Tom Brady became too much as he watched the draft at home. He told his Dad that he needed to get out of the house. So, the future all-pro grabbed a baseball bat and went outside.

The interview continues in the ESPN documentary with Brady recalling the day. "It was hard," Brady said. "I remember taking a walk with my dad and mom around the block..." He paused, hoping the lump in his throat would leave and the tears welling in his eyes wouldn't spill onto his cheek. Gathering himself, Brady apologized to interviewee Steve Sabol of NFL films.

"Sorry about that," he said. 

Brady's wait would end with the 199th pick in the 2000 draft by the New England Patriots.

"Finally when the Patriots called, I was so excited," Brady explained.

Tom Brady knows every team that passed on him and his goal for the past decade has been to pass on them...thousands of yards and hundreds of touchdowns.

His emotional pause during the ESPN interview proves that it still bothers Brady today and it's been a tool of motivation. 

Most every athlete, coach or people in general have a moment like this. Not necessarily a draft story but a significant event that is crushing at the time. We've all had them. 

Some overcome it better than others and quicker than others. But the key here is to TRY to overcome bitter disappointments. Let it motivate you.

Tom Brady did. Jim Abbott did. Josh Hamilton did. Rory McIlroy will.


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  • Objective Scientist Apr 19, 2011

    Good article... what leads some to be "motivated" by disappointments or "blocks/bumps in the road of life" that prompts them to keep "trying/fighting/pushing forward", etc., while others become depressed and "give up"... and other responses in between those extremes? Perhaps psychologists/psychiatrists have some thoughts?

    Specifically with regard to athletes and motivation: I'm a very successful multi-sport athlete - now "past my prime" due to what "gets us all" - the aging process. "In my day" I was very successful and performed at a very high level in several sports. I never... NEVER needed any motivation other than "the ball being tossed up", the first pitch being thrown, the kick-off being executed. I LOVED playing all sports and my drive to play to the very BEST of my ability each and every time I was on the field/court was ALWAYS there!!! Many athletes today, and coaches, it seems are almost always looking for something to "motivate" the athlete... playing against a big rival, playing in reaction to opposing players/coaches comments, playing for an injured/deceased teammate and/or coach, etc., etc., etc. This constant search for something to motivate is "amusing" and "interesting". Is not the "joy of playing the sport", the "joy of competition", the "love of the sport", the attempt to always play/perform at a higher level... is that not enough motivation? Does a good athlete really "need" anything else for motivation? I would have played "no harder" in any game no matter what my opponents may have said, what teammate and/or coach may have been injured, ill, or worse, no matter WHO we were playing. I played as hard against the weakest and/or last team in the league/conference as I did the big rival and the "league/conference" leader. It is appalling to me that any true athlete would not do that and would need "additional motivation".

  • axepack Apr 14, 2011

    View quoted thread

    Well said. I'm not a Pats or Rangers fan, but you hit the nail on the head here.

  • RedIrish Apr 14, 2011

    View quoted thread

    So he was on an average team that just happened to beat the team with the best record in the AL and the defending champions to reach the world series?

    Individually since getting his life back on track he has led the AL in RBI's (2008), won an MVP, a batting title, 3 time AL All-Star and 2 time Silver Slugger.

    I think for a guy that has been in the league for 4 years that is a pretty long list of accomplishments. Is it the same as being a 3 time champion, no, but it is hardly a flash in the pan either. And that is coming from a guy who isn't a Rangers fan but is a Patriots fan.

  • olafericson Apr 13, 2011

    Let's never compare josh hamilton to tom brady ever again. brady has become an ego maniac, but is the best player in his sport. hamilton won the mvp from an average team in a bad division during a down year in baseball. that guy is flash in the pan all the way.

  • tjdebord Apr 13, 2011

    Good one, Jeff.

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