http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/golf/13828846.htm Posted on Thu, Feb. 09, 2006 Super Bowl MVP shares stories of his perseverance Stevenson football players told attitude is key to success By LAITH AGHA Herald Correspondent As the teenage girls were chasing Justin Timberlake around the 3M Celebrity Challenge on Wednesday afternoon at the Pebble Beach Golf Links, across the bay a group of about 30 teenage boys was sitting quietly. Their attention was focused on an AT&T celebrity participant, but they weren't seeking an autograph or some other memento verifying that they were once in the presence of greatness. Rather, what the Stevenson School football players received was a first-person account of what it took to become Tom Brady, NFL superstar. It's a feel-good story -- quarterback of three Super Bowl-winning teams who was not drafted until the sixth round. But it wasn't that part of Brady's journey that most impressed the Stevenson athletes. It was the part about where he started, how not too long ago he was just like them, and how he would not have had a chance at success if it wasn't for hard work and perseverance. "It's really powerful," to hear Brady speak, said Peter Ireland, a starting running back and co-captain for next season's Pirate team. "It has got to be the truth because he's come a long way to get where he is. You have to take in every word he says and really respect what he says." Brady spoke of a path to the top that wasn't covered with a red carpet. He described how nothing was handed to him, from the time he was a backup quarterback on a freshman high school team in San Mateo that didn't win a game, to being seventh on the depth chart his freshman year at the University of Michigan, to being drafted by the New England Patriots with no guarantee that he would make the team, let alone have a chance to take over as the starting quarterback. But it wasn't his success that Brady focused on sharing. "The message I try to get across to them is that the only thing you can control is your attitude," Brady said. "If your attitude isn't good, then you're going to have a tough time with a lot of things -- whatever you choose to do. Hopefully they got the message." Apparently they did. "It's neat to see he didn't start out as good as he is now, and that he was able to succeed through hard work," said David Kurtmen, who starts at linebacker and offensive guard as well as serving as the team's other co-captain next year. "It applies to all aspects of life. If you don't necessarily start out gifted in something, if you really dedicate yourself to it, you can succeed." The talk was arranged by Bill Perocchi, the CEO of the Pebble Beach Co., whose son William quarterbacked the junior varsity team to a 6-3 record last fall. Perocchi, a lifelong Boston sports fan originally from Massachusetts, developed a friendship with Brady and his family over the last five years. Two years ago, Brady also stopped by before the AT&T to speak to Stevenson athletes. "Tom's a great person," said Perocchi. "He's truly the role model of the NFL." During his talk, Brady interacted with his audience, candidly answering all questions and encouraging the young athletes before him to pursue their dreams and work hard. He opened his talk by saying he had watched a film of a Stevenson JV game from last season. "Who was it who fumbled against Pacific Grove on the 1-yard line?" The players burst out laughing. Beyond the laughs though, Brady seemed to be able to relate to the young football players. "I can look in their eyes and know that I was once their age and had dreams and goals just like them," Brady said. Laith Agha is a Herald correspondent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .