April 16 marked the 15th anniversary of an improbable moment in NFL history. In the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots used the 199th overall selection on what turned out to be the face of their franchise, quarterback Tom Brady.
On Aug. 3, 1977, Galynn and Thomas Brady, Sr. gave birth to their fourth child, whom they named after his father. During his years as a youth, young Tom attended 49ers games with his dad. His favorite player was Joe Montana.
In his later years, Brady would go from following quarterbacks to becoming one. As a student at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif. Brady played sparingly as the quarterback of his school’s football team. He also played baseball and basketball.
After graduating in 1995, Brady was drafted by the Montreal Expos. However, he decided to turn down the offer. Instead, Brady took his talents to Ann Arbor, where he would play football for the University of Michigan. As usual though, nothing came easy.
During his first two seasons, he was Brian Griese’s backup. Brady watched from the sideline as Griese led the Wolverines to a Rose Bowl victory over Washington State in 1997. Following Griese’s departure, Brady had an opportunity to receive more playing time.
However, head coach Lloyd Carr had other ideas. Carr decided to use a two quarterback system. This rotation featured Brady and Drew Henson, who was another promising talent. Despite Carr’s philosophy, the two passers competed for the starting role.
Halfway through the 1999 season, that starting job went to Brady. He responded by leading the Wolverines to a trio of come-from-behind victories against Penn State, Indiana, and Ohio State en route to a berth in the Orange Bowl.
In the big game, the “Comeback Kid” continuously showed his poise against Alabama’s defense. Brady brought Michigan back from a pair of two touchdown deficits, throwing for 369-yards and four scores. The Wolverines beat the Tide in overtime, 35-34.
Brady ended his collegiate career on a positive note. However, he entered the NFL Draft as an afterthought. No NFL team had the name Tom Brady at the top of their list. In fact, six other quarterbacks were drafted before Brady’s name was called.
Those six players included Marshall’s Chad Pennington, Hofstra’s Giovanni Carmazzi, Louisville’s Chris Redman, Tennessee’s Tee Martin, West Virginia’s Marc Bulger, and Southwest Texas State’s Spurgeon Wynn.
More obstacles faced Brady when he joined the Patriots. He started the 2000 season as the fourth-string quarterback on the depth chart. By season’s end, he moved up to the second spot, but completed just one pass.
In 2001, a turn of fate took place. Starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was knocked out of a game against the New York Jets. Bledsoe suffered a sheared blood vessel in his chest. Brady took over as the starter and never looked back.
He led New England to a thrilling Super Bowl victory over the St. Louis Rams and their “Greatest Show on Turf” offense. Two of the next three seasons followed with Super Bowl titles for the Patriots. Brady was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for two of those victories.
Like his boyhood idol, Brady has four Super Bowl rings. He won his fourth at the culmination of the 2014 season when the Patriots knocked off the Seattle Seahawks. He also won his third MVP award.
Through 15 seasons, Brady has put forth a glamorous resume of credentials. He has passed for 52,258-yards and 392 touchdowns. He has led the league in touchdown passes three times and he is also a 10-time pro bowler and two-time league MVP.
As Brady enters, his 16th season, he will begin a quest for his fifth title. He proved to his critics that he traveled a long way. At the same time though, Brady still hears a voice in his head that tells him that he can always do better.