By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
If Tom Brady really is calling it quits after 22 NFL seasons, there is little doubt he’ll be remembered as the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Now, as a lifelong Raiders fan, it’s really hard for me to go along with that. (I mean, tuck that!) But yeah, Brady is pretty good. He has seven Super Bowl rings, more than Peyton Manning, John Elway, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees combined.
Here are more interesting facts about the life and career of the future Hall of Famer:
♦ Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. was born on Aug. 3, 1977 in San Matteo, California. He shares the same birthday as singer Tony Bennett, entrepreneur Martha Stewart, actor Martin Sheen, actress Evangeline Lilly and Olympic swimming gold medalist Ryan Lochte.
♦ Growing up in the 1980s, Brady attended San Francisco 49ers games at Candlestick Park and became a big fan of Joe Montana. He was four years old when he attended the famous Jan. 10, 1982 NFC playoff game between the Niners and the Dallas Cowboys. That was “The Catch” game, where Montana found Dwight Clark in the end zone for the winning score, punching the 49ers’ ticket to Super Bowl XVI.
♦ Brady’s football career began at Junipero Serra High School in San Matteo, where he was the backup QB on the junior varsity team. He became the team’s starter during his junior season and began impressing college scouts. He also played basketball and baseball for the Padres. (He was good enough in the latter sport that the Montreal Expos drafted him in the 18th round in the 1995 MLB Draft.
♦ A prized recruit, Brady signed a National Letter of Intent to play for Michigan. He chose the Wolverines over USC, UCLA, Cal and Illinois.
♦ At first, Brady was listed seventh on the Michigan QB depth chart. He was a backup on the undefeated Wolverines squad that won a share of the 1997 national title. Brady briefly considered transferring to Cal before being named the starting QB for the 1998 season. During his senior season in 1999, Wolverines head coach Lloyd Carr actually platooned his QBs for the first seven games of the season, using both Brady and Drew Henson.
♦ Brady finished his Michigan career with a 20-5 record as a starter. His biggest wins as a Wolverine came in his final two games. In his regular-season finale, with a berth in the Orange Bowl at stake, Brady led Michigan to a thrilling 24-17 victory over arch-rival Ohio State. Then, in the Orange Bowl, he threw for 369 yards and 4 TDs, helping the Wolverines overcome a 14-point second half deficit to beat Alabama, 35-34 in OT.
♦ Despite his collegiate credentials, Brady’s stock as an NFL prospect took a hit after an unimpressive showing at the Draft Combine. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft (199th pick overall) by the New England Patriots. Six QBs – Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger and Spergon Wynn – were taken before Brady. Years later, a tears-eyed Brady told ESPN: “Finally, when the Patriots called, I was so excited. I was, like, ‘I don’t have to be an insurance salesman,’ you know?“
♦ Brady began his rookie season as New England’s fourth-string QB, eventually moving up to become the primary backup to starter Drew Bledsoe. During that campaign, Brady’s stats were 1 for 3 passing attempts for 6 yards. That lone completion was to tight end Rod Rutledge in a blowout loss to the Detroit Lions on Nov. 23.
♦ In his second season, Brady filled in for an injured Bledsoe late in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ home opener against the New York Jets. The Jets won the game, 10-3. Brady was named the starter for the team’s next game, against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Brady went a modest 13 for 23 for 168 yards and no TDs, but the Patriots prevailed, 44-13.
♦ Brady played in his first Super Bowl on Feb. 3, 2002 against the heavily-favored St. Louis Rams. The Rams’ QB, Kurt Warner had the more stats (365 yards, 1 TD, but it was Brady (145 yards, 1 TD) who led his team to a 20-17 victory. Brady was named the game’s MVP, the first of his five Super Bowl MVP Awards.
♦ On March 17, 2020, Brady announced that he would not be returning to the Patriots for a 20th season. Three days later, he signed a two-year, $50-million (fully guaranteed) contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
♦ The rest is history: 7x Super Bowl champion (six with New England, one with Tampa Bay); 5x Super Bowl MVP; 3x NFL MVP; 3x First-Team All-Pro; 15x Pro Bowl selection; 5x NFL passing TDs leader; 4x NFL passing yards leader. Brady is the NFL’s all-time leader in career wins, career passing yards and career TD passes.