It was the ultimate surprise 48th birthday present.
New England Patriots coach/GM Bill Belichick was dealing with his selections on Day 2 of the 2000 NFL draft 15 years ago Thursday. His birthday cake that day would have 48 figurative candles.
The Patriots were seeking a late-round quarterback, A former starter at Michigan was available when New England's turn came up with the 199th pick of the draft. He had been on their pre-draft analysis radar.
Six other quarterbacks had already been chosen. Their names, for the most part, would be forgotten by most. Save for one important, trivial fact.
They were the six quarterbacks chosen before Tom Brady. "The Brady 6" would later be the subject of an ESPN documentary.
It was 15 years ago Thursday that the Patriots pulled off the ultimate football robbery. It was the NFL's version of the Lufthansa heist.
Bill Belichick chose Tom Brady with the 199th pick in the NFL draft.
Happy Birthday, coach. Here are four Super Bowl rings, a dynasty, and a quarterback that could help you become, in the eyes of many, the best coach in NFL history.
New England the franchise and New England the region will never be the same.
On this birthday, Belichick had his cake, ate it, and then worked with Brady to build the most-dominant NFL franchise of the 21st century.
A breakdown of the players chosen before Brady found that only two, kicker Sebastian Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler, are still playing in the league. Linebacker John Abraham played briefly last season before going on injured reserve with concussion problems.
Frank Chamberlain, a linebacker out of Boston College, lost his battle with cancer and died at age 35 in 2013. Several of "The Brady 198" have been arrested since being taken ahead of Brady. Far more never took a snap in the NFL. Then there's the story of Thomas Hamner, a running back out of Minnesota taken with the 171st pick by Philadelphia. He never made the Eagles roster and eventually ended up living full-time roaming the streets of Middletown, New York.
Brady's NFL scouting report was less than impressive.
Among the low-lights:
* Poor build
* Lacks great physical stature and strength
* Lack mobility and ability to avoid the rush
* Lacks a really strong arm
* Can't drive the ball downfield
* Does not throw a really tight spiral
* System type player who can get exposed if forced to ad-lib
At the combine, he ran his 40-yard dash in a glacial 5.2 seconds.
Eventually, he was chosen by the Patriots.
Brady's story reminds us all that every choice we make, big and small, can have a profound and gargantuan effect on our lives. Some choices we just can't help, such as the person or persons with whom we fall in love. Or the baseball or football teams we root for when those are passed down by our parents.
Other choices of necessity and convenience come as the result of simple and extensive logic, or research, or emotion, or all of the above. Which smartphone do we buy? Or which car.
From Day 1, the only persons who fully believedin Brady were Brady and his parents. He was No. 7 on Michigan's depth chart when he arrived at Ann Arbor. He was at least fourth on the Patriots depth chart in the summer of 2000.
Brady was backing up Drew Bledsoe when Bledsoe was injured by Mo Lewis in the 2001 season.
Thank you, Jets.
Brady took Bledsoe's job and never willingly gave it back. Bledsoe earned his Super Bowl ring by bailing out the Patriots in the AFC title game after Brady got injured. Brady was healthy and well-enough to start Super Bowl XXXVI. He did. They won.
The world, or at least New England, was never the same again. No one north and east of Fairfield County, Connecticut wants to ever imagine a world without Tom Brady as quarterback of the New England Patriots.
Even when Brady isn't playing and winning games, or Super Bowls, or losing Super Bowls in gut-wrenching fashion, his impact on Greater Boston and its culture is omnipotent and undeniable.
Monday, when the defending Last Place Champion Boston Red Sox wanted to create a special Opening Day to remember, they called on Brady, Belichick, and Robert and Jonathan Kraft. Each walked into Fenway Park bearing a Lombardi Trophy won by the franchise. It worked. The crowd went crazy, even as Brady bounced his ceremonial first pitch to David Ortiz. He then took some BP from 2015 Hall of Fame inductee Pedro Martinez. The presence of Pete Frates, and of Jane and Henry Richard just made sure the Nationals never had a chance.
Ortiz and Brady have combined for seven titles since Brady was chosen 15 years ago. Brady won his first first. That title, or more specifically the "Tuck Rule Game," is the official starting point for what would be called the "Decade of Dominance." It will soon become "The Big Score" with one or two more titles between now and 2020.
Much of the city's sports psyche, identity, and success since 2000 can be attributed to Brady. He's the reigning Supernova in Boston's galaxy of sports stars. He's staked his physical claim the Boston area by building an 18,000-square-foot, $4.5 million mansion in Brookline. Brady's wife retired from her day job on Wednesday. They have two children together. Brady's son from his relationship with Bridget Moynahan was with him on the field after the Patriots won the Super Bowl.
Expect to see even more of Tom, Gisele and the kids around town and elsewhere as dad approaches 40.
Nothing lasts forever, not even the career/reign of Tom Brady. He turns 38 this year. He is coming off one of the best years of his career and the ever-evolving rules of the NFL protect his position as well as any All-Pro offensive lineman.
Still, in five years or less, he'll be gone from the NFL.
Meanwhile, the impact of that 199th selection in the 2000 NFL draft will linger for at least another 50.
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