The 5 most revealing stories from ESPN’s collection of Tom Brady anecdotes

Tom Brady New England Patriots
Tom Brady waves to the family and friends section on his 40th birthday at Patriots training camp. –Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

In honor of Tom Brady’s 40th birthday, ESPN spoke to a number of his teammates and coaches—from both the past and the present—to uncover 24 stories that shed light on what Brady is really like, on and off the field.

Here are the five we found to be the most telling:

Former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel recalled the first (and last) time he called for the ball during practice:

“I start yelling, ‘Tom! Tom! Tom!’ and I’m waving my hands. But he doesn’t throw it to me. I come back, and we’re in the huddle when he says, ‘Mikey, if you ever wave your f—in’ hands and ask for the ball again, I’ll never throw it to you. I know who’s open. I’m the quarterback, I’ll throw it to whoever the f— I want!’ That was the last time I ever called for the ball.”

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Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison remembered how Brady would repeatedly take a subtle jab at the time he showed up at the weight room:

“I show up around 6:30 in the morning and he says to me, ‘Good afternoon!’ So the next day, I get the hint, and come in 15 minutes earlier. Same thing: He says, ‘Good afternoon!’ Then the next day it’s 5:45 in the morning, and he makes sure to say it twice: ‘Good afternoon! Good afternoon!’ So I make it at 5:30 the next day and before he could say anything to me, I looked at him and said, ‘Man, I don’t give a damn what you say, Tom, I’m not coming in earlier than 5:30!'”

Former Patriots backup quarterback Brian Hoyer told a story about a beer-chugging contest while on the road in Rochester:

“You have linemen, Julian Edelman, they all think they are going to win. Then someone says, ‘I heard Tom is really great at chugging a beer.’ We don’t usually get to experience him like this, but we finally coax him into doing it. He does it, and let me tell you, you couldn’t have poured out the beer faster into a glass. It was unbelievable. And he slams the mug on the table and puts both fists in the air. He walks away with a look on his face that said, ‘You really thought you were going to beat me on this?’ The place went nuts.”

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Former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker recalled an in-flight board game incident that featured a roller coaster of emotions: 

“We were playing a game with dice and you try to get all your pawns to the other side, and I’m kind of beating him the first couple games. He’s down about $200. I’m talking trash and you could just see his frustration growing. He then takes the board game and throws it against the back of the plane. I’m like, ‘Dude, are you serious right now?’ We keep on playing, and of course he ends up getting up on me $300. All of a sudden, he’s in the happiest, best mood ever. I go to pay him and he didn’t even take it. He just wanted to win. He had the biggest smile on his face.”

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Patriots backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett learned the ways of the locker room very early on:

“Josh [McDaniels] is asking me a question, it was like one of my first days here. So I’m thinking about what to say, and Tom just answers. In my head, I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’ And then he’s like, ‘You just have to be faster in this room.’ That’s when I kind of got an opening to [his approach], and it’s been the same way ever since.”

Read the anecdotes in full on ESPN.