Tom Brady has had one of the most storied careers in NFL history. With Brady set to turn 40 on Aug. 3, Shutdown Corner is counting down the 40 most memorable moments from Brady’s career, on and off the field.
10. Brady gets his second Super Bowl ring
The Patriots shocked the NFL when they upset the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, and then had some wondering if they were just a flash in the pan when they went 9-7 and missed the playoffs in 2002.
But in 2003, New England not only got back into the tournament, it built the next step in a dynasty that continues to this day.
A 14-2 regular season bookended by games against the Buffalo Bills – the first a 31-0 loss, the second a 31-0 win – preceded postseason wins against the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts, setting up a Super Bowl date with the Carolina Panthers.
The Patriots led by four at halftime, and by 11 early in the fourth. Carolina scored three touchdowns in a little more than 10 minutes (though two two-point conversions failed) and the teams were tied 29-29 with 1:08 to play.
Starting from his own 40 after Panthers kicker John Kasay put a kickoff out of bounds, Brady completed four of five passes for 47 yards, even overcoming an offensive pass interference call to give Adam Vinatieri a 41-yard field-goal attempt for the franchise’s second championship. Vinatieri delivered, and Brady, who had thrown for 354 yards, three touchdowns and a pick, won his second Super Bowl MVP.
9. Brady maintains innocence in crazy deflate-gate news conference
Surreal. If we had to sum this up in one word, it would be surreal. There were seven live television trucks in the Gillette Stadium parking lot. Well over 100 media members from local and national outlets crammed into the media workroom. And all for the air pressure in footballs.
On Jan. 22, 2015, Brady stood at a podium, a Patriots winter beanie on his head, and answered questions shouted at him for over 30 minutes.
Brady asserted his innocence in what’s now known as deflate-gate, said the team’s equipment guys told him they hadn’t altered the balls other than the (legal) scuffing he liked, and that he believes he has always played within the rules.
At one point, Brady showed how absurd the ordeal was, quipping, “This isn’t ISIS; no one is dying,” and cut off a reporter who kept interrupting him to try to get her question in.
It was … surreal.
8. Marrying Gisele
Does this look like a young man who would grow up to marry one of the most beautiful women in the world (obviously bad Photoshop job excluded)?
Good luck to the Celtics in the 2015 playoffs!
But somehow, the endearingly goofy kid from San Mateo, California, who grew up to become Tom Brady met and then married Gisele Bundchen. In case this is your first time logging onto the Internet, Gisele looks like this:
Gisele Feliz Dia Dos Namorados te amo muito
And even if she grew up watching futebol in her native Brazil and not football, Bundchen stands by her man, angrily defending Brady in the moments after the Patriots’ Super Bowl XLVI loss to the Giants.
What’s funny is that for as famous as Brady is here in the United States, in most other countries he’s “Gisele Bundchen’s husband.” In the modeling world, Gisele is arguably the G.O.A.T. herself.
7. Drew Bledsoe gets blasted by Mo Lewis, opening the door for the Brady era to begin
Though Drew Bledsoe likely doesn’t remember Sept. 23, 2001 as the same kind of milestone most members of the Patriots organization and fan base do, it is a day that changed the fate of the franchise.
That’s when New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis drilled Bledsoe, then the Patriots’ franchise quarterback, on a fourth-quarter sideline hit. The tackle not only caused Bledsoe to briefly black out, it caused severe internal bleeding due to a severed blood vessel. Incredibly, Bledsoe briefly returned to the game after the hit, only to be rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital after the game. Team doctors thought Bledsoe might have had ruptured his spleen; he actually suffered a hemothorax, and nearly three liters of blood filled his chest.
On that day, Bill Belichick was in his second season as New England head coach and sporting just a 5-12 record in the job at that point. With Bledsoe down he was forced to turn to the team’s backup, second-year sixth-round pick Tom Brady.
Generally, starters don’t lose their job to injury, particularly after an injury as dangerous as the one Bledsoe suffered. It seems callous to let someone else keep the job you had to leave through no fault of your own. But once Bledsoe was healthy Belichick decided to stick with Brady, who took New England from an 0-2 start to its first Super Bowl title in a matter of weeks.
6. A 19-0 dream suddenly turns into 18-1
The day the New York Giants arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in advance of Super Bowl XLII, they did so with players wearing all black – they were in town, they said, for a funeral.
The death of the Patriots’ 19-0 season.
It seemed fairly absurd at the time, a stunt staged by a plucky underdog. Brady even scoffed when told that New York receiver Plaxico Burress predicted a 23-17 final score in favor of the Giants.
The Giants defense battered Brady, attacking him through the middle of the line. He was sacked five times and pressured constantly, at one point seeming to duck away from pressure that wasn’t there.
Despite it all, Brady handed the New England defense a 14-10 lead with 2:42 to play. But thanks to one of the most spectacular catches the NFL has ever seen by David Tyree (still wondering how the play wasn’t whistled dead because Eli Manning appeared to be in the grasp of a couple of Patriots), the Giants scored the go-ahead touchdown. Brady was left with just 35 seconds to manufacture a miracle, and he couldn’t do it.
Understandably, he’s called the loss the toughest of his career.
5. “With the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL draft … “
Now, all these years later, they are the answer to a trivia question and the subject of an ESPN documentary: Who are the six quarterbacks chosen ahead of Tom Brady in the 2000 draft? The answer reads like a bad punch line: Chad Pennington. Giovanni Carmazzi. Chris Redman. Tee Martin. Marc Bulger. Spergon Wynn.
Brady was mocked for crying during an interview for “The Brady 6” doc, but we’d cry too. Brady has more Super Bowl rings than Wynn had career starts, and Giovanni Carmazzi never played in an NFL game!
True to form, Brady bounced back from his draft disappointment quickly. According to a story New England owner Robert Kraft is fond of telling, shortly after the draft he passed the lanky new quarterback, who was carrying a pizza box in the bowels of the team’s old Foxboro Stadium. Kraft said to him, “I know you; you’re Tom Brady. You’re our sixth-round draft choice.” And Brady looked Kraft in the eye and responded, “I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.”
4. Tuck rule
It was a strange rule. A rarely invoked rule. Dare we say, a dumb rule.
But the Tuck Rule – NFL Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2, now dearly departed – is the rule that saved the Patriots’ 2001 season, and saved Brady the ignominy of fumbling away a divisional-round playoff game against the Oakland Raiders.
Late in a close and snowy game, the last that would be played at decrepit Foxboro Stadium, Brady looked to his left. He noticed a defensive lineman in his path as he started his forward pass motion, so he pulled the ball back. That’s when former Michigan teammate Charles Woodson drilled Brady, causing a fumble. The Raiders, up 13-10 at the time, fell on the loose ball and everyone in New England and beyond thought the game was essentially over.
But wait. Referee Walt Coleman reviewed the play and determined that Brady, as outlined in The Tuck Rule, lost the ball as he was trying to tuck it back into his body. It was an incomplete pass, not a fumble.
Given new life, the Patriots put Adam Vinatieri in position to hit the game-tying field goal. Then Vinatieri won the game in overtime. Patriots fans rejoiced, and Raiders fans have cried foul ever since.
3. Brady wins No. 4, with an incredible fourth-quarter comeback against the ‘Legion of Boom’
Super Bowl XLIX is largely remembered for Malcolm Butler’s last-moment heroics, but Brady was fantastic in the fourth quarter. His great play put the Patriots in position to win, and for Butler to make his memorable play.
The Patriots and Seahawks were tied 14-14 at halftime, but Seattle put 10 points on the board in the third quarter while New England’s three drives ended interception-punt-punt.
Seattle hadn’t given up more than seven points in the fourth quarter since Week 5 of the regular season, four months earlier. Brady led his team to 14 points in the final quarter.
Fourteen completions against just two incompletions over two drives that totaled 20 plays and 132 yards – Brady just kept the chains moving against one of the best and most famous secondaries in NFL history. He eventually gave the Patriots the lead.
And then came Butler’s big moment. Brady screamed like a child, jumping up and down on the sideline as he realized he would be raising the Lombardi Trophy for the fourth time.
2. Brady calmly leads a two-minute drill to beat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI
NFL fans of a certain age will always have a soft spot for John Madden. The former coach and broadcaster with the larger-than-life personality was beloved for his folksy style, punctuating replays with “bam!”
But in the waning minutes of Super Bowl XXXVI, even Madden didn’t believe in Brady.
The Patriots had held “The Greatest Show on Turf” to just 17 points, and were knotted with the Rams 17-17 when Brady and the offense gathered on the field for the final time.
They were starting at their own 17. There was but 1:21 left on the clock. They had no timeouts. On the Fox broadcast, Madden memorably said he thought the Patriots should play it safe and go to overtime.
Enter Brady, the coolest customer this side of a convenience store in Nome, Alaska.
Brady did what we’ve seen him do dozens of times since then, as he methodically marched the Patriots downfield. Five yards to J.R. Redmond. Eight more yards to Redmond. Then 11 yards to Redmond after an incomplete pass. Brady hit Troy Brown for 23 more yards, putting New England in Rams territory. Six yards to Jermaine Wiggins placed the Patriots at the 30. After one last incomplete pass, Brady ceded the field to Adam Vinatieri with seven seconds remaining. Vinatieri nailed the kick. In the span of 19 weeks, Brady had gone from relative unknown to Super Bowl XXXVI MVP and a legend in Massachusetts.
And as it turned out, he was just getting started.
1. Brady turns 28-3 into Super Bowl No. 5
The Patriots were down 28-3 to the Atlanta Falcons midway through the third quarter of Super Bowl LI earlier this year. Even to the most diehard Patriots fan it looked like a done deal. How could it not? It’s easy to say now that Brady was at the helm so of course New England had a chance, but how many were saying that around 8:45 p.m. EST on Feb. 5?
New England got off to an awful start, likely one of its very worst of the Brady Era: punt-punt-fumble-punt-interception. And the interception was an 82-yard pick-six.
Once they got down 28-3, the Patriots had nothing to lose. They went for it on fourth down from their own 46, and picked up 17 yards on a Brady to Danny Amendola pass. On the same drive, a third-and-long was picked up when Brady ran for 15 yards; the touchdown cut into the Falcons’ lead a bit, but still, New England was down by 19 to start the fourth.
We all know what happened next. The 39-year old quarterback, the man who will forever carry the chip of being the 199th pick in the 2000 draft, the two-time league MVP who was forced to sit out the first four games of the season after a protracted fight against the league and its commissioner over his alleged involvement in the possible deliberate manipulation of air pressure in balls, the son who navigated the season with a heavy heart as his mother battled cancer, did it again. He put his team on his back and carried it, up a mountain no other team has come close to scaling in a Super Bowl, all the way to the top.
And then he took in the view.