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by Hayden Downer (7th)

            It’s safe to say that Tom Brady has had one of the most successful careers of any athlete in the modern era. In 23 seasons of playing football, Brady won 7 super bowls, 5 most valuable player awards, and is the all-time leader in passing yards. But at one point, most NFL fans didn’t even know who he was! Tom Brady had an absolute roller coaster of a career, so today will be a trip down memory lane for one of football’s greatest players.

Early Life & High School

            Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. (yes, that’s his full name) was born on August 3rd, 1977, in San Mateo California. Not much is known about Brady’s life before high school, but from a young age he was said to have excelled in many sports. Brady attended Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, where he played football, basketball, and baseball. He started on Varsity football for the first time as a Junior, and led his team all the way to the state playoffs.

            Despite putting up great numbers, winning All-State and All-Far-West accolades, and being his team’s player of the year twice, Brady didn’t receive much recognition from any top colleges. It got to the point where Brady and his Father sent out tapes of his high school highlights (remember, it was 1995) through the mail to colleges. Surprisingly, this bold strategy actually worked, and Brady had gotten interest from many schools, namely California, UCLA, Illinois, and Michigan. In the end, he chose the Wolverines of Michigan, and he was off to college.

                                         The College Struggles

            After receiving a full-ride scholarship from the University of Michigan, one of the top football programs in the country, Brady knew he wouldn’t be given the starting spot immediately. In fact, he didn’t even touch the field at all in his first year on campus, as he redshirted, meaning he would sit on the sidelines to add an extra year of eligibility. Brady considered transferring to California, but he ended up never going through with it, and he would finally see his first game action in the 1996-97 season, as his first pass as a Wolverine was intercepted and returned for a touchdown against UCLA. Brady wouldn’t see much of the field after that however, as he would ride the bench for the next 2 years at Michigan, playing every now and then, before finally, Brady would get his chance as the starter.

            Brady started his Junior year as the starter for Michigan, and he set season records for pass attempts and completions in a season, and he led the Wolverines to a co-Big Ten championship, and an appearance in the Citrus Bowl, where he led his Wolverines to a 45-31 victory over Arkansas.

            Heading into Brady’s senior year, however, he was not highly sought after by NFL coaches. In the first 7 games in that year, he and backup quarterback Drew Henson were battling for the starting quarterback spot.  In week 9 of the season, coach Lloyd Carr decided to go with Brady full-time, and he led his Wolverines to a 10-2 record, second place in the Big Ten, and the number 5 overall spot in the country. However, even after an Orange Bowl victory against powerhouse Alabama, Brady was still not on the radar of many NFL coaches.

                                                  Pro Career

            At the NFL Draft Combine, a sort of scouting event, Brady did not impress scouts. His vertical jump was unimpressive, he had a slow 40-yard dash, and scouts were turned off by his lack of arm strength. As a result, Brady fell all the way to the 6th round in the NFL Draft, where he would get the call that changed football forever.

            Brady had been selected 199th overall by the New England Patriots, who were coming  off an abysmal 5-11 season. The Patriots were led by veteran Drew Bledsoe, who was expected to be the starter and leader of the Pats in the 2000-2001 season. However, Brady was the 4th string quarterback, and it looked like he wouldn’t see the field at all. But Brady persisted. By the middle of the season, he was the backup quarterback to Bledsoe, and he would keep that job heading into the next season.

            In the Pats’ second game against the New York Jets, Bledsoe went down with an injury that would sideline him for the remainder of the season. That meant that Brady would have to become the starting quarterback for New England for over 15 weeks. The rest would be history. Tom would hit his stride, leading the Patriots to an 11-5 record and an AFC East Division Championship. The Patriots would have to face the Oakland Raiders in the first round of the playoffs, to decide who would go to the AFC Championship game. Late in the 4th quarter, Brady and the Patriots were down 13-10, and needed a money drive to tie the game and force overtime. In one of the most infamous moments in football history, Brady fumbled the ball and gave up possession, but due to an obscure NFL rule, Brady was ruled down instead. The Patriots would tie the game, and go on to win, and would go all the way to beat the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl.

            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.

            Brady has been by far the most successful football player, maybe even athlete, of all time. In his time as a football player, he has won all of these:

●     7 Super Bowls

●     5 Super Bowl MVPs

●     3 NFL MVPs

●     5x AFC Offensive Player of the Year

●     2x NFL Offensive Player of the Year

●     3x First-Team All-Pro

●     3x Second-Team All-Pro

●     15 Pro Bowl Selections

●     2021 NFL Air Player of The Year

●     NFL all-2000’s and all-2010’s teams

●     NFL Comeback Player of The Year

●     1997 NCAA Football National Champion

●     2x Sports Illustrated Athlete of the Year

●     6x ESPY award winner

and many more, smaller awards.

            It should be no surprise that Tom Brady is objectively the greatest football player of all time. He’s won so many awards, holds so many records, and has led arguably some of the greatest football teams of all time on the field. No matter how much you have to hate him, every football fan knows no other football player can even compare to him. Even if you’re not a fan of him, you should still appreciate how he changed the game forever.


Image Citation:

“Tom Brady.” Fox News, Fox News Media, Accessed 3 Mar. 2023.