The Tom Brady Experience: 'Almost' perfect
On the day Joe Montana threw the pass that became "The Catch," Brady was in the stands at Candlestick Park. He was 4½ years old, and he cried through most of the first half because his dad wouldn't buy him a foam "No. 1" finger. The Bradys had season tickets to the 49ers games, and little Tom always wore his Montana jersey.
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"People don't think about it," says Tom Sr., "but he's had a string of disappointments. He doesn't get up every day and step out of the house in the clouds.""It's never come easy for me," the son said in the "60 Minutes" interview. "I don't think my mind allows me to rest ever. I have, I think, a chip on my shoulder, and some deep scars that I don't think were healed." It cost Tom Brady Sr. $2,000 to make 60 highlight tapes of his son's high school career. Sitting with a stack of envelopes, father and son pored through a list of colleges and addressed them all: St. Mary's College in Moraga, Calif.; Stanford University; the University of California at Davis "What about Michigan?" Tom asked his father, pretty sure it would be a waste of time. "Sure," he replied. "Why not?" Working his way up
In the fall of 1995, Brady was last on the list of Michigan's seven scholarship prospects at quarterback, notably behind freshman Scott Dreisbach and sophomore Brian Griese. When Dreisbach became the starter, head coach Lloyd Carr decided to redshirt Brady. But as the third-string quarterback in 1996, he began to make an impression. "He was running with the second and third groups, playing behind guys that couldn't block me and you," says Stan Parrish, Brady's quarterbacks coach for four years in Ann Arbor. "They kept knocking him down and he'd get up and keep competing."
"I vividly remember the Syracuse game," says Parrish. "Drew finished the game and played well. Here's a kid with all the tools and potential in the world that was going to get every chance. For Tom to keep a stiff upper lip and be a good leader -- I know he felt his job was slipping away -- was tough. I sensed about as much frustration as you could feel in your whole life."But after the loss at Syracuse, Brady put together an eight-game winning streak and carried Michigan to a victory over Arkansas in the CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl. In 1999, for the first time, there were moments that suggested the greatness to come. Michigan trailed 27-17 at Penn State until Brady produced two touchdown drives in a span of two minutes. In the Orange Bowl, the Wolverines upset No. 5-ranked Alabama, 35-34 in overtime, when Brady rallied the team twice from two-touchdown deficits.
"If you're a quarterback, you want everything on your shoulders," Brady told reporters after the game. "You want to be the one to make the decisions."Moving the chains
Early in their 2000 training camp, the Patriots' coaches noticed something interesting about their sixth-round draft choice. Charles Pierce, author of "Moving the Chains," a book about the Patriots' difficult 2005 season, wrote: Tom Brady moves the chains. It's the first thing the New England Patriots and their coaches saw in him, directing the scout team with players who hadn't been around long enough yet to be considered castoffs. The scout team's job is to simulate the offense of the upcoming opponent. However, after practice, Brady and the scout team would practice the New England offense. He led, and they went with him. "They'd go through the plays, and, if somebody got something wrong, he'd correct them," recalls [Bill] Belichick. "You could see them getting better and better. They moved on you."
Better than Brady?
Six quarterbacks already had been drafted in 2000 when the Patriots came up in the sixth round to make the 199th overall choice. Marshall's Chad Pennington was a legitimate first-round pick, and the Jets took him. No problem there. But when the 49ers drafted Hofstra's Giovanni Carmazzi in the third round (to say nothing of Southwest Texas State's Spergon Wynn going to the Browns 16 picks earlier in the sixth round), well, Tom Brady was furious."I will never forget those days," said Brady, who grew up rooting for the 49ers. "It was a time in my career when I didn't know if I was going to be playing football. You keep seeing those other quarterbacks being taken, you start putting scenarios in your head." For New England's sixth-round pick, it was down to Brady and Tim Rattay of Louisiana Tech. Quarterbacks coach Dick Rehbein, who had worked them both out, gave the slight edge to Brady. Fortunately for the Patriots, head coach Bill Belichick concurred. The 2000 Draft's first six QBs Player, College, NFL team, Round, Overall Pick Chad Pennington, Marshall, Jets, Round 1, Pick 18.
Giovanni Carmazzi, Hofstra, 49ers, Round 3, Pick 65.
Chris Redman, Louisville, Ravens, Round 3, Pick 75.
Tee Martin, Tennessee, Steelers, Round 5, Pick 163.
Marc Bulger, West Virginia, Saints, Round 6, Pick 168.
Spergon Wynn, SW Texas St., Browns, Round 6, Pick 183.
-- Greg Garber
A few years ago, a television producer led Brady through a word-association exercise. A funny thing happened when the word "pressure" came up. "Let me think about that," Brady said, frowning. "I think that's the pressure to grab a hold of something and obtain something that maybe a lot of ways that's a sh---y explanation. What the hell am I talking about?" Then, after another failed attempt at an answer, he put his head between his knees and laughed. "Oh, God," he said. "I do have a college degree." Perhaps it's impossible to define what you can't feel. Brady has never lost an overtime game (he is 7-0). He is an astounding 14-2 in playoff games. And he has 24 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or beyond. In the same interview, Brady said, "I think it's a feeling like I've got it all figured out. There's nothing that can shock me anymore. There's nothing I haven't anticipated; so at that point, there is a calmness." In Bill Belichick, his coach with the Patriots, Brady has found a similarly driven soul. Together, in a world that encourages individualism, they have redefined the word "team." "He has bought into Belichick's Kool-Aid," says Tom Sr. "Bill Belichick rips into him every bit as much as anyone else, maybe more. It's good for guys like Randy Moss and Corey Dillon to see that. No sacred cows. Everyone's equal. Tom believes that, too."
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HOT READ: TOM BRADY
Patriots QB Tom Brady already has produced a record-setting regular season, and after this weekend, he could snag his fourth Super Bowl win. So where does he rank among the all-time greats? Check out our special two-part Hot Read on Brady.
Part I: Is Brady the best ever?• Sando: Ranking the all-time great QBs
• ZOOM gallery: Top 10 QBs of all time
• NFL Live: Who is greatest QB ever?
• Chadiha: Ranking the best QBs by decade
• Klancnik: Best QBs by jersey numbers
• Scouts Inc.: Ranking the top 64 QBs of today
• SportsNation: Rank the greatest QBs | Vote
• SportsNation: Think you know QBs?
• Super Bowls: Ranking every QB's performance
• Fantasy: Greatest Super Bowl QBs
Part II: Becoming a star• Garber: A perfect life ... but with insecurities
• Hashmarks: Remembering the Michigan days
• What would Tom say to others?
• The supermodel's family cheers for Brady
• Hill: Just call him Teflon Tom
SUPER BOWL XLII
In a rematch of their Week 17 game, the unbeaten Patriots will play the red-hot Giants in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz.
Super Bowl Central
• Hashmarks blog: Mosley, Sando in Arizona
Commentary/Features• Chadiha: Giants miss Shockey
• Garber: Injured war vet inspires Giants
• Pasquarelli: The Pats' crucial cameos
• Merrill: Hixon's traumatizing season
• Football Outsiders: SB number crunching
• Pasquarelli: Patriots' silent sentinel
• Wojciechowski: Unflappable Eli
• Chadiha: Giants' rookies playing prominent role
• Fleming: Cardinals/Pottsville Curse
• Clayton: Youth serving Giants well
• Hashmarks: Media day coverage | Gallery
• Pasquarelli: Pats' old-school LBs
• Helyar: Marketing windfall for Eli Manning
• Garber: Seau's ring quest
• Pasquarelli: Bruschi's full-circle journey
• Animated plays
• Chadiha: Pierce just wants to win
• Wojciechowski: Explaining Bill Belichick
• Helyar: Recession? Not at Super Bowl!
• Giants' Snee doesn't stray from roots
• Sando: Seymour in eye of storm
• Merrill: Welker scales new heights for Pats
• Pasquarelli: Brady is ready to play
• Garber: The preservation of Plaxico
• Pasquarelli: Hill's spirit lives on
• Clayton: Giants' juggling act at CB works
• Wickersham: Giant ideas
• Klosterman: All too perfect
• Crown Jewels: A look at Super Bowl rings
• FB Outsiders: Giants one of worst SB teams
• Helyar: Patriots will drive TV ratings
• Clayton: First and goal
• Chadiha: Giants' glory road
• Mosley: Brady's ankle saves the week
• Woj: Preseason predictions revisited
• Merrill: David Woodley's dark spotlight
• Former SB QBs: Plunkett | Rypien | Ferragamo
• More: Morton | Humphries | Hostetler | Eason
• Starting matchups of Super Bowl QBs
• Ranking the QB performances: 1-40 | 41-82
• Jaworski: Six Super Bowl surprises
• Joyner: Brady's bad decisions
• Clayton: Eli's managing fine
• Chadiha: Focused Giants
• AccuScore simulation: Pats to prevail
• Chadiha: First Look at the Super Bowl
• Playoff schedule
Page 2• Hill: Teflon Tom Brady
• Hill: Raiders quit on Moss
• Flem File at the Super Bowl
• Fleming: Defining greatness
• Best teams never to win a title
• TMQ: Title-game analysis
• Why Boston teams are so good
• Gallo: Countdown to kickoff
News• Brady ankle not on injury report
• Brady on Plax prediction: Only 17 points for Pats?
• Carey named first black Super Bowl referee
• Brady practices in Pats' first Super Bowl session
• Ross gets sick as unified Giants face flu
• NFL not worried about spying
• Security high for Super Bowl
• Williams to be honored during Super Bowl
• Bootless Brady departs for Arizona
• Tickets reselling for average of $4,300
• Burress: Giants' receivers are better
Scouts Inc.• Scouts: Running-game breakdown
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 4)
• QB tale of the the tape
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 3)
• Ranking NFL QBs 1-64
• Take II on Super Bowl XLII
• Giants' DBs overmatched or underrated?
• Horton: Notes from film room (Day 2)
• Horton: 10 things to watch in SB XLII
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 1)
• A tale of two underrated O-lines
• Take I on Super Bowl XLII
• Players ranked Nos. 1-106
SportsNation• Vote: Which team will win?
• Vote: Who wins the head-to-head matchups?
• Vote: Which team are you rooting for?
• Conversation: Talk Super Bowl XLII
• Map: Which states are picking the Giants?
• Quiz: 42 Super Bowl history questions
• Chat: Hello from Arizona!
• Chat: Live from Media Day
• Chat: Prop bets, Subway's Jared and more!
• Rank: Super Bowl's best individual performances
• Rank: Super Bowl coaches
• Rank: Super Bowl careers
• Rank: Greatest all-time quarterbacks
• Vote: Potential for QB greatness?
• Quiz: Greatest quarterbacks