When you heard the name Tom Brady, What comes to your mind? Well, for an NFL fan perspective, it will always be the G.O.A.T. But many fans didn’t know what the real story was, because they only see how he won and the gloried gossip lingering around him. His success story often got overlooked. From an underdog draft to an NFL legend. So you may ask, how did he manage to do that? How did he defy all the odds and climb his way to the top? In this article, we’re going to dive deeply into the moments and factors that have redirected the course of Tom Brady’s career. This will help unravel the enigma of Brady’s success, uncovering the realities of his journey and how they can inspire and guide others.
Tom Brady’s Early Years: From High School Standout to College Underdog
It was during his Junior year that Brady earned his spot on the Varsity football team, skillfully leading them to the state playoffs. Despite his remarkable achievements, such as securing All-State and All-Far-West honors and twice being crowned his team’s player of the year, top colleges seemingly overlooked him.
Determined to be noticed, Brady and his father devised a unique plan. In 1995, they compiled tapes showcasing his high school highlights and dispatched them via mail to various colleges. The audacious move paid off, capturing the interest of prestigious schools like California, UCLA, Illinois, and Michigan.
Ultimately, Brady chose to pursue his collegiate career with the Michigan Wolverines, a decision that would propel him towards becoming one of the most illustrious quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.
After securing a full-ride scholarship from the University of Michigan, a top-tier football program, Brady knew he wouldn’t be handed the starting position immediately. In his first year on campus, he was redshirted, meaning he had to sit on the sidelines to gain an extra year of eligibility. Though he briefly thinking about transferring to California, he ultimately stayed put and finally made his debut in the 1996-97 season. However, his first pass as a Wolverine was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by UCLA.
Subsequently, Brady spent the next two years mostly on the bench, occasionally stepping onto the field. It wasn’t until his Junior year that he got his big break as the starting quarterback. During that remarkable season, he set records for pass attempts and completions, leading the Wolverines to a co-Big Ten championship and a triumphant 45-31 victory against Arkansas in the Citrus Bowl.
Despite his impressive performance, Brady faced an uphill battle in his Senior year. NFL coaches didn’t show much interest in him initially. Throughout the first seven games, he fiercely competed with backup quarterback Drew Henson for the starting position. Eventually, in week 9, coach Lloyd Carr made Brady the full-time starter. Under Brady’s leadership, the Wolverines finished with a commendable 10-2 record, securing the second place in the Big Ten and ranking fifth overall in the country. Notably, a resounding Orange Bowl win against the formidable Alabama team showcased his potential.
However, despite these achievements, Brady remained largely underestimated by many NFL coaches.
The 2000 NFL Draft: The Surprisingly Late Selection of Tom Brady
In the famous 2000 draft, Tom Brady’s NFL journey began when he was selected as the 199th overall pick, following five other quarterbacks. Considered an underdog, he faced doubts about his abilities, being seen as too slow, skinny, and predictable to become an NFL starter.
Despite starting as the 4th string quarterback, Brady remained undeterred. He continued to work hard, and as the season progressed, he climbed up the ranks to become the backup quarterback to Bledsoe. His persistence paid off, and he held onto that role heading into the following season.
The New England Patriots, fresh from a disappointing 5-11 season, took a chance on Brady. However, at the start, he was far from the spotlight, having to share the starting job during his time at Michigan. Many believed Drew Bledsoe, a seasoned veteran, would lead the Patriots as the starting quarterback in the 2000-2001 season.
The Unexpected Opportunity: Brady’s Breakthrough in the 2001 Season
In a crucial game against the New York Jets, the Patriots faced a setback when their starting quarterback, Bledsoe, suffered an injury that would keep him out for the rest of the season. This unexpected turn of events thrust Brady into the spotlight as the new starting quarterback for New England, a role he would embrace for over 15 weeks. Little did anyone know that this would mark the beginning of an incredible journey that would leave a lasting mark on football history.
As the weeks went by, Tom Brady found his rhythm, leading the Patriots to an impressive 11-5 record and clinching the highly competitive AFC East Division Championship. The team’s success under his guidance was nothing short of remarkable.
The real test came in the playoffs, where the Patriots had to face the formidable Oakland Raiders in the first round. In the closing moments of the 4th quarter, Brady and the Patriots found themselves trailing 13-10, desperately needing a clutch performance to tie the game and extend their playoff hopes. During this tense period, a moment that would become infamous in football lore occurred: Brady appeared to fumble the ball, seemingly giving up possession to the Raiders. However, luck was on the Patriots’ side, as an obscure NFL rule saved the day. Brady was ruled down instead of losing possession, providing a lifeline for his team. Seizing the opportunity, the Patriots capitalized on this stroke of fortune, tying the game and eventually securing the victory.
Undeterred by challenges, Brady continued to lead the Patriots through the playoffs, all the way to the grandest stage of them all – the Super Bowl. The ultimate showdown awaited them against the St. Louis Rams. In a display of determination and skill, Brady and the Patriots triumphed, etching their names in history as Super Bowl champions.
The 2001 season was a turning point not only for Tom Brady’s career but also for the New England Patriots franchise. Brady’s emergence as a starting quarterback brought about a new era of success and dominance, setting the stage for years of greatness to come. His ability to rise to the occasion in the face of adversity and lead his team to victory has solidified his status as one of the all-time football legends.
Super Bowl Victories and Records
Tom Brady had already secured his legacy in New England, but he strived to become better. He would win Super Bowls in 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016, and 2018. As well, he also won a 7th Super Bowl for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021.
Here are a few from the list of Tom Bradys’ Victories and Achievements:
Brady in his 20s
21,564 passing yards, 147 passing TDs, 3 Super Bowl wins
Brady in his 30s
40,018 passing yards, 309 passing TDs, 2 Super Bowl wins
Brady in his 40s
27,632 passing yards, 193 passing TDs, 2 Super Bowl wins
Most Pro Bowl appearances
Tom Brady’s 15 Pro Bowl selections leads the league. Trent Williams, Matthew Slater, and Aaron Rodgers are the only active players in his rearview, each of them has 10.
Most Super Bowl games played
Tom Brady has appeared in 10 Super Bowl games, winning 7 of them. Just one NFL franchise has appeared in more games, the Patriots, of which he was a driving force behind most of them.
Most Super Bowl wins
This one is by far the most important, and the single number you can point to in order to state Brady’s case as the GOAT. He has won seven Super Bowls, which is more than any single franchise. The Steelers and Patriots each have won six.
Most game-winning drives
To the same tune of comebacks, Brady has the most game-winning drives as well with 58.
Best QBR of all-time
Tom Brady has the best QBR in a single season all time. That comes from his 2007 season when his QBR was 87.0. That year, he threw for 4,806 yards and 50 touchdowns which led the league.
Most playoff passing yards
Brady has 13,400 passing yards in the playoffs. Peyton Manning is the runner-up with 7,339 yards. Patrick Mahomes looks poised to break this someday with already 3,902 to his name in the playoffs.
Most playoff touchdowns
Tom Brady’s 649 playoff touchdowns lead the runner-up Drew Brees by 78.
The Final Chapter of a Legendary Career
The impact of Tom Brady’s move to Tampa Bay was monumental, forever altering the course of the franchise’s history. It was in March 2020 that the Buccaneers parted ways with their former first overall pick, Jameis Winston, who had become well-known for his infamous missteps.
At the same time, the football world was beginning to grasp the shocking truth that Tom Brady might not continue his career in the familiar surroundings of Gillette Stadium. Despite a tenure at New England that included six Super Bowl victories, the Patriots, under the stewardship of the legendary head coach Bill Belichick, seemed ready to move on. Many believed that Belichick, who is often considered the greatest coach in the history of football, didn’t think Brady possessed the necessary skills for the future he envisioned for the Patriots.
But it wasn’t just Belichick. Many in the football community had similar sentiments. So, when Brady found himself weighing his options in free agency after the 2019 season, for the first time in his career, he began considering playing outside of New England.
In an astonishing turn of events, Brady found the most attractive option in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team with the unfortunate distinction of being the franchise with the most losses in the history of professional sports. This was a stark contrast to Brady, widely considered the most successful player in the history of football. On March 20th, 2020, Brady made it official, signing a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and shaking the foundations of the football world.
The ramifications of this move were significant and transformative for both Brady’s legacy and the reputation of the Buccaneers franchise. Brady’s 20-season stint with the Patriots was marked by unparalleled success, with thirteen Conference Championship appearances, nine Super Bowl appearances, six Lombardi trophies, four Super Bowl MVP awards, and three NFL MVP awards.
His two seasons with the Buccaneers following the Super Bowl LV victory were a mix of success and disappointment. The 2021 season ended with a loss in the divisional round playoffs to the Los Angeles Rams, who went on to win the Super Bowl. The 2022 season concluded with a first-round playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
However, Brady’s legacy in Tampa Bay will not be defined by the way it ended, but by how it began. Fans and all members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers community will always remember how a 43-year-old Brady led the Buccaneers to their second-ever Super Bowl victory, marking the final, stunning chapter in the quarterback’s legendary career.
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