Although Tom Brady is the GOAT, he began his football career as just another kid in northern California with a dream. In a recent interview, he described his awkward first day on the high school football field when he was completely unable to do the most basic of tasks. Stories like these make it even more incredible that Brady has accomplished so much.
Tom Brady didn’t even commit to football until relatively late in life
Nothing about Tom Brady’s ascent carried even the slightest whiff of greatness. Considering his journey, it’s easy to see why. Until high school, Brady’s interests were divided between baseball and football. He was so good at baseball while attending Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California that he was drafted in the 18th round of the 1995 MLB draft by the Montreal Expos. The catcher was projected to be an All-Star level player.
Brady’s feats as a high school QB are impressive — although some untimely sprinklers kept him from winning a title. In his final season, he won All-State and All-Far West honors and earned the team’s MVP. But none of that seemed possible when he first joined the school’s JV team. Brady had never played organized football before. He discussed his struggles during an episode of the Armchair Expert podcast:
“When you get to your first day of practice and everyone starts putting all of their pads on and putting their pads in their pants, I’m like, ‘How do I put these in my pants?’ I don’t know the shoulder pads. It was pretty unique not to have any experience. Other kids who were on my team had played Pop Warner, they were just so far advanced.”
The future NFL star wasn’t even a strong athlete compared to his fellow high school athletes. “I was probably a late-bloomer anyway, but in terms of playing football, I definitely didn’t know the game other than what I watched.” Although Brady explains that he’s always had a “pretty good arm,” he was far behind the others and didn’t even play his freshman year.
“We were 0-8,” Brady said about his freshman year. “We lost every game we played, and they still didn’t think I was good enough to play games … I still loved playing because it was a great team sport.” His determination continued to do him good as he progressed in the sport.
Brady also began his college career as a backup, waiting two years to become the full-time starter. In his two years under center, the All-Big Ten honorable mention won two bowl games and finished in the top five in school history in attempts, completions, yards, and touchdown passes.
Brady then became the best QB of his generation, to the surprise of all
A paradox of determination, skill, and luck define Brady’s career. He entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick and fourth on the New England Patriots’ depth chart. By his second season, Drew Bledsoe’s backup was ready to step in when he got injured. Once Brady got his hands on the starting job, he refused to let go for nearly two decades.
Combining forces with Bill Belichick, he created a dynasty. Brady won six Super Bowls and three MVP awards en route to becoming arguably the best QB of all time. He started his NFL career as a game manager. But he became an unstoppable passer as he improved and the Patriots put talent around him. Brady evaded the pass rush and the NFL’s gravitational pull for much longer than many believed was possible. But he, and by extension, the Patriots fell back down to Earth.
Brady’s aging skillset began to show itself during his last few seasons in New England. Being merely an average QB as a 43-year-old is nothing to be ashamed of. But it was a severe step down for Brady. He and the Patriots disagreed on the reason for his decline in play. Brady decided to leave for greener pastures to prove he could still be as great as he ever was.
Can Brady bring a championship to Tampa?
Brady’s time with the Bucs has had some notable downsides here and there. But ‘Tompa Bay’ looks like one of the best teams in the NFC in part because of Brady’s addition. He’s thrown for 2,739 yards and 23 touchdowns. The not-so-successful Bucs brought him in to deliver a deep postseason run. They’re well on course to be in that discussion once the playoffs start.
But Brady isn’t the only reason that the Buccaneers are so good. Their offensive line does a great job to give Brady the time to throw. And the receiving corps has lived up to the hype. The defense has also been excellent. They’ve earned a top-five ranking in the NFL for yards per game allowed, sacks, and turnovers.
Predicting how an NFL season will go is always a difficult task, especially in the middle of a pandemic that could sideline any team at any given time. But the Brady-led Bucs have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the fate of this season.