BROWERVILLE, Minn. - Paul Johnson was a bit bleary eyed when he welcomed strangers from the Twin Cities on Monday.
“Very tired today,” said Paul as the visitors entered his shed. “I was up till 4:30 in the morning.”
The exhaustion is understandable. It’s hard to get enough of the post-game analysis after your first cousin just quarterbacked his team to a miraculous fifth super bowl win.
Tom Brady grew up in California, but each summer as a boy he returned to the Browerville area to spend time with his grandparents on the farm where his mother grew up.
“He was our little hyperactive kid,” says Paul of his younger cousin. “I remember him throwing baseballs and busting grandpa’s windows.”
Paul says “Tommy” had a mile-wide competitive streak, whether fishing, golfing or playing cards.
Tom Brady’s uncle, Gary Johnson, smiles and adds, “The genetic genius comes from the Johnson side. Gary’s wife Diane, slaps his knee, but can’t hide her own pride.
“Oh, what a great gift, what a great gift he’s given us,” she says.
For 17 seasons the Johnson family has gathered around a TV to watch Tom play football, most of those games viewed right here in the shed.
The walls are lined with deer mounts, fishing gear, and enough Patriots’ memorabilia to satisfy any New Englander.
On the bulletin board are pictures of Tom Brady during visits to Browerville. His last was this past summer, when he read a reading at his grandfather’s funeral.
Galynn Brady, Tom’s mother, is Gary Johnson’s sister. She met Tom’s father, a California insurance agent, while working as a flight attendant.
Galynn’s battle with cancer was revealed to the nation Sunday night after her son guided the Patriots to an unlikely come-from-behind victory.
“With his mom being not well, it just was meant to be,” says Diane Johnson.
Paul shows a picture of his family taken two seasons ago at a Patriots game they watched in Brady’s suite.
Paul says his cousin has never forgotten his family. “Hasn’t changed a bit and that’s what we respect most about him, he treats us the same and wants us to treat him the same.”
The Johnsons are pleased to hear talk of Brady continuing to play. They say an appearance by the Patriots in the Minnesota Super Bowl would be a dream come true, even better if Brady were to line up opposite the Vikings.