Brady's throwing coach nears end of life

June, 13, 2011
6/13/11
11:13
AM ET
The news of Tom Martinez's rapidly deteriorating health hits close to home.

Not only has Tom Brady's personal passing coach been a great friend of the AFC East blog, but his situation is too similar to the man who taught me how to throw a ball, my father.

The San Jose Mercury News reported over the weekend doctors have informed Martinez he has no more than a month to live and as little as a week. Martinez has battled complications of diabetes for years. He is on dialysis and has heart problems.

"Physically I feel stronger than my numbers indicate,'' Martinez told the San Jose Mercury News. "My numbers say I'm basically gone. My blood pressure is too low for me to continue with dialysis and without dialysis poisons build up in my body. Doctors say without dialysis I have a week to go. We're looking into transplants. I would need both heart and kidney transplants done simultaneously.''

Martinez has been coaching Brady since the three-time Super Bowl champion was 15 years old and playing junior varsity at Serra High in San Mateo, Calif. Tom Brady Sr. took his wide-eyed son to get some pointers from Martinez, the respected head coach at the College of San Mateo.

Martinez continued to train regularly with Brady. They had a mechanics session as recently as eight days ago.

"There's so many people I owe so much to -- high school, college and the NFL," Brady told Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King. "But he is right at the top of the list. Second to none. He never held back with me. Even when I was going good, he'd watch me and call me and say something like, 'Your feet are way too slow in the shotgun. Speed it up!' or 'When you throw to your right, close your right shoulder.'

"I just can't say enough about him, and what he's meant to me. When I heard how serious it was the other night, I was there in bed with my wife, and it was just a sad moment. Very tough on his family, and on ours.''

Martinez always was available to speak with me about quarterbacks and throwing. When I got off the phone with him, I felt much smarter about football. He enjoyed sharing his knowledge.

He couldn't help but be honest. Sometimes he would avoid a question to protect Brady, but he revealed to me last summer Brady played much of the 2009 season with broken ribs and a broken finger. Before the 2010 playoffs, Martinez visited with me about Brady's fantastic MVP season.

Martinez often spoke to me about JaMarcus Russell or any other prospect he had worked with or currently trained. We were on the phone right before the draft to discuss his latest group, which included Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi.

I had a standing invitation from Martinez to attend one of his renowned passing camps for elite prospects -- not to observe, but to participate. He was willing to teach a 39-year-old former high school quarterback now on cholesterol medication the finer points because he knew it would make me a more enlightened NFL writer. That's the kind of guy Martinez is, and I'll always regret not being able to convince my editor to do that piece.

But this news is a thankful reminder that time is more precious than football. I had the chance to spend the weekend with my family in Ohio. My father has dealt with diabetes for three decades. He has congestive heart failure. He's on dialysis. And he's nine years older than Martinez.

So if you'll allow me to get maudlin for a moment, here's my request for today. Call somebody you love and tell them what they've meant to you. I'll bet they'd like that.

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