The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project—unveiled every Wednesday, from May through July—detailing 95 artifacts that tell the story of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.
The Patriots wrote “Brady, Tom” on the card, the 199the pick in the 2000 draft, and thereby changed the course of their franchise and of league history. That selection in the sixth round pick was a compensatory pick, one of the four awarded to New England for losing linebacker Todd Collins, punter Tom Tupa, defensive tackle Mark Wheeler and center Dave Wohlabaugh in free agency. That’s what’s called a good return.
Brady, of course, stepped in as the starting quarterback when Drew Bledsoe was injured early in the 2001 season, and he finished that year as the Super Bowl XXXVI MVP. Two more Super Bowl rings and four more Super Bowl starts later, the slow-footed, overlooked Michigan kid will be hard to top as the greatest draft steal ever. It’s no wonder Bill Belichick has developed a habit of hoarding draft picks. As conventional wisdom goes, though, the Patriots didn’t know what they were getting either, or else they wouldn’t have waited until the sixth round.
Brady is hardly alone as a late-rounder who rose to stardom: Richard Dent (eighth round, Bears, 1983), Terrell Davis (sixth round, 1995, Broncos) and Shannon Sharpe (seventh round, 1990, Broncos) preceded him as late-round picks who featured prominently on Super Bowl winners. Brady’s draft day might have been an ordeal, but his Canton induction won’t be.
Photograph courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.