5 things we learned from ESPN’s interview with Tom Brady’s longtime confidant

Tom Brady Michigan
Michigan quarterback Tom Brady '99 looks to pass during the spring game on April 18, 1997, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. –AP Photo/The Ann Arbor News, John L. White

Like many successful athletes, Tom Brady understands the value of a thorough scouting report. For years, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL has been getting just that from a former dish washer nicknamed “the Beav.”

While Andover-native Jay Flannelly might not be scrubbing plates at Ann Arbor Pizza House anymore, he still moonlights as Brady’s personal scout. Every week, the 45-year-old watches hours of footage, combs through rosters and mulls over stat sheets before sending the Patriots’ quarterback a detailed report.

Speaking with ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, Flannelly recently chronicled the history of their relationship, offering humanizing anecdotes and insights about the two-time NFL MVP.

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Read the full story at ESPN.com

Sports Illustrated previously introduced readers to the unlikely friends–who met at the University Michigan in 1995 when Flannelly was a student assistant for the football program and Brady was an eager freshman–about a year ago after exchanges between the two went public amidst Deflategate.

Here’s what we learned from the ESPN piece:

Not everybody always wanted TB12’s autograph

While Brady’s autographed memorabilia undoubtedly carries a high price tag in 2017, it was a different story in 1998. As a junior in college, he was noticeably upstaged by All-American teammate Drew Henson at a Michigan autograph session.

Flannelly recalled Brady signing “no more than three autographs,” as the line for Henson was pushing 500 people.

“Tommy was looking at it the whole time,” Flannelly told ESPN. “The whole time.”

He’s been confident since Day 1

Despite being selected as the 199th pick overall in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft, Brady seemed to carry no uncertainty regarding his future career.

“I’m going there to take Bledsoe’s job,” Flannelly recalled him saying over the phone only an hour or so after being drafted by the Patriots.

He’s always been a creature of habit

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With Bill Belichick and some of the best resources in the business at his disposal, why hasn’t Brady told the Beav to call it quits over the past 16 years?

“It’s part of his routine,” Flannelly said.

And, as we all know, nothing gets in the way between Tom Brady and his routine.

He’s not afraid to say, ‘I love you’

“[Tom] doesn’t have a big circle of friends, especially now, but those that are in the circle, to them he really wears his emotions on his sleeve. And it blows you away sometimes.” Michigan alum and 14-year NFL kicker Jay Feely told ESPN. “He’ll come right out and say, ‘I love you,’ and as a man it takes you aback a little bit.”

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He’ll never forget what you did for him

There’s no denying that Brady’s NFL resume is stacked with a staggering list of accolades, but his Michigan days were quite different. However, “whenever the quarterback was booed by Michigan fans or benched by [Lloyd] Carr, Flannelly was there to offer counsel and support.”

And Tom has returned the favor. In the early 2000s, his longtime friend was battling an addiction to painkillers.

“Tommy was very supportive,” Flannelly said. “All I had at one point. … He just checked on me. A lot. A lot of, ‘Love you Beav. You will be OK.'”

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