It’s pretty clear that when Tom Brady chose to leave the New England Patriots, he picked the right team to take his talents to as he has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. He potentially almost went to another team, though, and that team was one of the Patriots’ worst enemies — the Indianapolis Colts. However, another future Hall of Fame quarterback ultimately got in his way.
The Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots had a fierce rivalry
Let’s be honest, the Patriots never really had to worry about any of their divisional opponents during their dominant two-decade run with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. One of their biggest rivals during that span was the Indianapolis Colts.
The Patriots had Brady while the Colts had Peyton Manning. The two teams and two quarterbacks then, of course, had several incredible regular-season matchups, but they also met in the playoffs a few times. Brady and the Patriots defeated Manning and the Colts in the 2003 AFC Championship Game, and the 2004 divisional round. Manning and the Colts, though, then won in the 2006 AFC Championship Game before going on to win that year’s Super Bowl.
The rivalry then simmered down a bit as Manning, of course, eventually went to the Denver Broncos. The Colts and Pats, though, played each other again in the 2013 divisional round, and the Patriots ultimately won. They then beat the Colts again the next year in the 2014 AFC Championship Game.
However, in that 2014 title game, Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson picked off one of Brady’s passes. According to ESPN, he then wanted to save the ball, but a member of the Colts equipment staff wondered if the ball was underinflated. This came after Indy had concerns about underinflated footballs in the teams’ regular-season matchup that year.
The Colts’ concerns then spiraled into the infamous DeflateGate, which resulted in Brady receiving a four-game suspension in 2016.
One last chapter of the rivalry then occurred in 2018. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels agreed to become the Colts’ head coach. The team even announced the hiring and scheduled a press conference. McDaniels, though, backed out before actually signing the deal.
“The rivalry is back on,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said at the time, per ESPN.
Tom Brady left the New England Patriots
After reaching nine Super Bowls, winning six of them, and playing in 13 AFC Championship Games, Brady chose to leave the Patriots after the 2019 season.
He then signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has since proven that he is still elite. After only throwing for 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns, and eight interceptions in 2019 with the Pats, he threw for 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions with the Buccaneers in 2020.
He then had two incredible performances in the wild-card and divisional rounds for the Bucs. Brady ultimately threw for 580 yards and four touchdowns combined in those two games. The Buccaneers then defeated the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, which helped Brady reach his 10th Super Bowl.
It has certainly worked out for Brady with the Buccaneers, but he almost went to the Colts.
Tom Brady nearly played for the Indianapolis Colts
In March 2020, Peter King reported that Brady “had interest in Indianapolis, [but] the Colts seemed to be set on Philip Rivers on a shorter deal.”
While one might wonder why the Colts would pick Philip Rivers over Brady, remember this: Brady was just OK in his final season in New England. That proved to just be because he didn’t have any weapons around him, but the Colts didn’t know that at the time. Rivers is also four years younger than Brady.
However, Colts owner Jim Irsay recently revealed that the Colts did, in fact, have an interest in Brady as well.
“Definitely we looked at Tom and thought that would have been a great opportunity,” Irsay said, according to the IndyStar.
He continued: “I think Frank [Reich] really knew Philip well and they had worked together and there was such a great familiarity there, that it seemed to be a great fit for us.”
The Colts made the playoffs without Brady this year, as they are a pretty stacked team. With Brady, though, they could have contended for the AFC title. The move would also have potentially ticked Bill Belichick and Patriots fans off even more.
The Patriots-Colts rivalry has always been interesting. Had Brady gone to Indy, though, it could have become even more heated.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference