Tom Martinez Biography
Claim to Fame: American Football coach
Date of Birth: February 21, 1946
Date of Death: February 21, 2012
Diabetes Type: 2
Known by many as “The Quarterback Whisperer,” longtime coach and mentor Tom Martinez, famous for grooming Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, worked as head coach at the College of San Mateo and as a private coach for numerous players throughout the country.
Martinez grew up in San Francisco and spent his entire life in the Bay Area. He was hired by the College of San Mateo as a football coach and physical education teacher, later coaching softball and women’s basketball. Martinez’ wife of 46 years, Olivia, discussed her late husband’s passion for teaching and desire to help athletes realize their talent and achieve their full potential. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Olivia stated, ”Tom had a very, very unique way of communicating with his athletes that resulted in a bond that was very special. First and foremost, he was a teacher, then a coach. His approach made the complex easy to understand. He truly was a master teacher in that respect."
As a private coach, Martinez trained athletes with various backgrounds and levels of experience. From high school athletes to professional NFL players, Martinez maintained the same dedication and passion to his students. While working as a private mentor, he met Tom Brady, then only 13, and began a close friendship with the aspiring quarterback, teaching him the valuable tools to be successful both on and off the field. In a 2006 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Brady stated, “Tom's a key reason why I've been fortunate to have success in college and the NFL…I think the world of him professionally and personally.” Despite his fame, Brady continued to consult Martinez well into his professional career. Martinez is also recognized for his work with NFL stars John Elway and JaMarcus Russell.
Martinez was given the 1995 California Community Coach of the Year Award and has been inducted into both the San Mateo Hall of Fame and the State Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. Widely held to be the most successful community college coach in California history, Martinez won 32 championships over the course of his career. As a football coach, he had 400 career wins and, under his tutelage, produced some of the most recognized quarterbacks in recent NFL history. Over the course of his 32 years of coaching, Martinez achieved a state record of 565 wins in basketball and 800 wins in softball. His success attracted a number of athletes from all over the country to attend the College of San Mateo. The enduring loyalty of his students serves as a testament to Martinez’ career and purpose.
Despite his devotion to sports, Martinez suffered from poor health. Struggling with severe kidney issues, for which he underwent dialysis, and battling a number of complications resulting from type 2 diabetes, the celebrated coach’s deteriorating health left him feeling drained and vulnerable. In an Interview with New York Daily News, his wife Olivia stated, “We were convinced the dialysis was slowly killing him…UCLA just couldn’t be bothered to take someone at such high risk.” In June of 2011, after being rejected for a kidney transplant from UCLA, Martinez was given a month to live by his doctors. Determined, he worked to find a donor and had even contacted Johns Hopkins to conduct the transplant, but could not find a matching kidney in time. On February 21, 2012, long past the expiration date doctors originally envisioned, Martinez, still on dialysis, died of a heart attack at the Satellite Dialysis center in Redwood City, California.
Upon news of his death, the NFL quickly responded with mourning. Brady’s friend and teammate Julian Edelman posted a message to Twitter, stating, “RIP coach Tom Martinez. He was such a great mentor to many in the Bay area. His legacy will always live on.”
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