Tom Brady's big reveal

Kevin Van Valkenburg, ESPN

Tom Brady tried to stay out of the spotlight this season, but we learned more than ever about football's most successful and secretive star. Perhaps because we care enough to piece it together.

EVEN WHEN HE is dressed in a lumpy Patriots sweatshirt and stocking cap, standing before a wall of cameras, Tom Brady manages to look regal. He is so guarded, so calm and Kennedy-esque as he listens, nods and then gracefully says nothing. It's almost easy to forget what a competitive lunatic he becomes on the field.

Put Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. in front of a referee that he believes has missed a holding call, put him in front of a wide receiver who ran the wrong route, watch him stand face mask to face mask with a linebacker who he openly loathes, and he is anything but Clooney cool. His voice, measured and steady in casual conversation, climbs three octaves when it's warmed by the fires of football, becoming as shrill and intense as the squeal of an owl. He is an F-bomb-dropping, spittle-spraying, mini-tornado of fury. He is in those moments -- and this is said with genuine admiration -- a ferocious ass who wants to win so badly that on the field, he cares not one bit about his brand or the image he's supposed to project and protect. It's always been the most revealing and raw aspect of Brady's personality.

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