Tom Brady and ailing mentor treasure time together
There are good days and bad days for Menlo Park's Tom Martinez, fighting against Type 2 diabetes and kidney issues after being given two weeks to live in June. "I am hanging in there," he said. "I am on the list for a kidney transplant, but we have a ways to go."
Sunday will be a great day, as the quarterback guru's prize pupil, Tom Brady, will be making his fifth Super Bowl appearance.
"It's been a great ride and I have always enjoyed working with him and watching him play," Martinez said.
For 20 years, Martinez, 66, has been helping Brady straighten out his footwork or throwing mechanics. He flew to New England before the season opener to watch some game film with Brady and work on some things, and they exchange text messages throughout the season.
"He's always calling and texting," Brady told reporters Wednesday, "and saying, 'Get your shoulder down and get your arm up and close your left side and take a shorter stride.' "
Brady finished the regular season with the second-most passing yards in NFL history (5,235), then threw six touchdown passes against the Broncos in the playoffs. But he sent some extra text messages Martinez's way after throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns against Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game.
"I sucked," Brady said.
"He didn't suck," Martinez said. "He made three or four bad throws, but he is such a perfectionist that he thinks he sucked. Still, they won the game, he managed the game very well and he beat a Ravens defense that might be the best in the league."
Still, Brady needed some reminders from the guy who first told him to keep his elbow high and his hips closed when he was 13 years olds at a San Mateo quarterback camp.
"He taught me how to throw the football at a young age," Brady said. "I'm forever indebted to him. We've worked together for over 20 years trying to work on my mechanics and nail those down. He's had a great commitment to me."
It's funny that Martinez would call Brady a perfectionist …
"Talk about a perfectionist," Brady said, "he's a perfectionist and he doesn't let anything slide with me. I owe so much to him. I love him. I love his family. He's got a great family, and I enjoy being with him and working with him.
"He's hopefully going to get a kidney pretty soon. He's been looking for a kidney transplant for a long time, and I'm sure hoping he gets one."
Martinez, often worn down from dialysis, perks up a little at the mention of being accepted into a kidney transplant program at Johns Hopkins. MatchingDonors.com and Brady's regular posts on Martinez's Facebook asking for help give him hope of finding a donor.
Martinez is less excited about the talk of whether or not Brady should be considered the best quarterback of all-time if he wins Sunday. That won't be an easy feat, Martinez said, as the Giants match up well and Eli Manning is one of the "top three technically-sound quarterbacks," along with Brady and Drew Brees.
But if the Patriots do beat the Giants, then Brady will tie 49ers legend Joe Montana – Brady's childhood idol – with four Super Bowl wins and pass him for most wins in NFL postseason history with 17. Brady is 16-5.
"Joe Montana was the best quarterback of his era, and Tom Brady is the best quarterback of his era," Martinez said. "To leave either out in a discussion of who is the best ever would be a disservice. They were both champions."
"Tom hasn't had the consistent receivers the 49ers had, the Jerry Rices, John Taylors and Dwight Clarks," Martinez said. "You talk about who the Patriots top receiver was in 2004, and people wouldn't be too clear."
David Givens, take a bow.
"Hey, Joe was magnificent. Tom is magnificent," Martinez said. "I wouldn't want to be the one to say anyone was better than Joe, or that anyone was better than Tom."
This article appeared on page B – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle