CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Cody Kessler knows all about New England’s future Pro Football Hall of Fame signal-caller Tom Brady.
Growing up in Bakersfield, California, Kessler was just four hours from Brady’s hometown of San Mateo. Being a student of the game, Kessler has watched Brady lead the Patriots to six Super Bowl appearances, including four victories. And to Kessler, who will share a field with Brady and the Patriots at FirstEnergy Stadium this afternoon, New England’s leader has set and continues to be the standard for NFL quarterbacks.
“Tom is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game,” Kessler said.
Throughout his 17 NFL seasons out of the University of Michigan, Brady has completed 4,953 of his 7,792 pass attempts for 58,028 yards and 428 touchdowns against 150 interceptions, and rushed for another 17 scores.
Despite taking 402 sacks for 2,509 lost yards, Brady has proven remarkably durable, with only 15 games lost to injury since he took over the starting job from Drew Bledsoe during the 2001 season, which turned out to be New England’s first of three Super Bowl wins over a four-year stretch.
All 15 of those games missed came in 2008, when Brady suffered anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligament tears in his left knee in a season-opening game against Kansas City.
“That is awesome,” Kessler said of Brady’s durability. “It is tough to do. This is a tough sport, and you learn that right away. It is just with his hard work and dedication and continuing to just keep getting better. It is something that you strive to do as an athlete.
“You always want to continue to play as long as you can and never give up the game. Obviously, one day -- I have talked to guys that do not play anymore, they said the game is going to end -- but you want to fight as hard as you can for as long as you can. Seeing guys like Josh (McCown) and Tom Brady and different guys like that, it is something you strive for. You want to play the game for a long time.”
Although Kessler will be on the same field as Brady today and can appreciate the future hall of famer’s successes, he refused to let that influence preparations for just his third NFL start.
“You just control what you can control,” Kessler said. “You can’t control who you are playing against that week or who you go up against. You control how you perform.
“That has always helped me just stay level-headed. Don’t let the moment be too big. Just focus on what I can control, stay after and watch film and study the playbook and study them defensively, and then, go out and make the plays and execute when it’s game day.”