I’ve seen plenty of excellent productions from NFL Films over the years. Tonight, I’ve seen one of the best yet. And that’s saying a lot.
The Brady 6, a look at the events that resulted in Tom Brady being the seventh quarterback picked in 2000 and the aftermath of that indignity, demonstrates in a striking way the flaws inherent to the NFL draft. Nothing the scouts do can measure a man’s heart, his drive, or his determination.
You should see the whole thing. For now, here are 10 things I learned that I either didn’t know, or that I had forgotten.
1. Prior to the 2000 draft, the Patriots were the only team that called Michigan about Brady, even though he’d led the Wolverines to an Orange Bowl win in overtime only a few months earlier. That said, we’ve heard in the past that an assistant coach on another AFC team was lobbying aggressively to draft Brady, but that his advice was ignored.
2. We love former 49ers coach Steve Mariucci, but it was almost laughable to hear him defend the decision to not pick Brady. At one point, Mariucci almost seemed to deflect some blame to the late Bill Walsh, whom Mariucci pointed out was present at the local-prospect Pro Day that Brady attended, given his San Fran roots. Later in the show, Mariucci became exasperated during practice with third-round pick Giovanni Carmazzi, and Mariucci eventually suggests that Carmazzi lost the nerve to play NFL football during the 2000 Hall of Fame game against the Patriots.
3. Carmazzi, the only member of the Brady 6 to not be interviewed, now owns five goats and no TVs.
4. Brady has always been extremely confident. Pats owner Robert Kraft said that, when Brady introduced himself during training camp in 2000, Brady said, “I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.”
5. Only four years old at the time, Brady attended with his father “The Catch” game in 1982, sitting in the end zone where Dwight Clark transformed a franchise with a leaping touchdown reception. A full 18 years later, when Clark was running the show in Cleveland, Clark took Spergon Wynn 16 spots before the Pats selected Brady.
6. Brady told former Michigan teammate Aaron Shea after the 2000 season that Brady will beat out Drew Bledsoe for the starting job in New England. Coach Bill Belichick said that Brady had a better training camp and preseason than Bledsoe in 2001, but that they went with Bledsoe to start the season because Brady was inexperienced. A big hit from Mo Lewis later, and Brady grabbed the job and never let go.
7. Strangely, the one-hour documentary glossed over the fact that Brady suffered an injury during the 2001 AFC title game, and that Bledsoe actually led the Pats to the win. At the time, plenty of people thought Bledsoe should get the nod in the Super Bowl. Belichick opted for Brady, setting the stage for an epic Super Bowl upset and greasing the skids for Bledsoe’s one-way trip to Buffalo.
8. For his on-camera interview, Kurt Warner’s face was a completely different color than his neck.
9. Mel Kiper showed up several times. I vividly recall hearing him on ESPN Radio before the 2001 season suggesting that the Patriots could become the first team to go 0-16.
10. After hearing and seeing Brady’s emotional reaction to the fact that he was drafted so late, the one guy I thought about was Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who wasn’t drafted at all in 2003, when 13 quarterbacks came off the board, including Brady’s rival at Michigan, Drew Henson (taken by the Texans), and players like Dave Ragone (also taken by the Texans), Kliff Kingsbury (taken by the Pats), Gibran Hamdan (taken by the Redskins), and Ken Dorsey (taken by the 49ers). And yet I’ve never heard Romo suggest that he has any anger or frustration regarding the fact that he went seven rounds without being picked. It fits with our long-time theory that Romo is simply happy to be where he is, and that he lacks the unrelenting fire to become the best player he ever can be.
Indeed, for now the only thing Romo has in common with Brady is that each man once supplanted Drew Bledsoe.