Thursday is a pretty good day for football. The Cardinals and Cowboys kick off the season with the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio. And Tom Brady turns 40 years old. Yes, the reigning Super Bowl MVP and most important player on the most likely team to win this year's Super Bowl turned 40 the day the preseason began. Think about that for a second. 

The world knows so much about Tom Brady -- born and raised in California, attended school at Michigan, snubbed as a starter, fell in the draft, became a competitive maniac, won a few Super Bowls, married a supermodel, made avocado ice cream popular, yada yada yada, engineered the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, wrote a book that doubles as the "athlete's bible" -- and yet we know so little.

Credit Mike Reiss of ESPN for a fantastic oral history of The Real Tom Brady, a peak behind the curtain at the best football player in the world as he turns 40 years old. The entire collection is worth a read -- Reiss tracked down current and former teammates, coaches and friends to break out their favorite under-the-radar Brady story.

What results is a profile of Brady as the lunatic competitor you would expect. He told Ty Law once he took over for Drew Bledsoe in 2001 that Bledsoe "isn't getting this f---ing job back." (He was right.) He used to steal reps from his backup Matt Cassel. He has slammed a board game in an airplane because Wes Welker was beating him. 

And he can chug beer better than everyone else too. Former backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, now the de facto starter for the 49ers, recalled that after a game against Buffalo the Pats were snowed in and forced to hit up a local restaurant as a team. Hoyer said the team usually did not enjoy Brady's company at such events because people would find out he was there and swarm him. 

From Hoyer via Reiss:

But this was impromptu at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Rochester. The whole team is there. And it turns into a beer-chugging contest. You have linemen, Julian Edelman, they all think they are going to win. Then someone says, 'I heard Tom is really great at chugging a beer.' We don't usually get to experience him like this, but we finally coax him into doing it. He does it, and let me tell you, you couldn't have poured out the beer faster into a glass. It was unbelievable. And he slams the mug on the table and puts both fists in the air. He walks away with a look on his face that said, 'You really thought you were going to beat me on this?' The place went nuts."

Brady doesn't just dominate football games. He kills everyone else in beer chugging too. Again, the whole story is worth a read: Mike Vrabel being reminded that he should never, ever, ever-ever-ever ask for more passes ("I'm the quarterback, I'll throw it to whoever the f--- I want") is absolute gold.

And there is plenty of heart-warming stuff in there from former coaches and teammates. Brady making Josh McDaniels' wife cry or helping take care of Charlie Weis in the hospital.

It's all a reminder that not only is Brady a better football player than everyone else, a better competitor than everyone else, a better teammate than everyone else but that he's also probably a better human than everyone else. 

At least he's got that going for him. Otherwise the poor guy might be celebrating his 40th birthday in pretty depressing fashion.