The Biggest Lesson to Learn From Tom Brady’s Legendary 22 Season Career


Cal L’Hommedieu '23

In 2000, Tom Brady was an underwhelming prospect coming out of  Michigan, but multiple flashes of brilliance in his senior year were enough to project him onto the draft board. Before the draft, Brady’s NFL Combine numbers left scouts wondering why he was on the field. With a 40 yard dash time of 5.28 seconds compared to the Quarterback average of 4.93 seconds, his athleticism was closer to that of an Offensive Lineman. He was selected by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft with the 199th pick. Players drafted in the sixth and seventh round have as low as a 30-35% chance of making the roster. The odds were stacked against Tom Brady from the moment he was drafted, but like all statistics data, there is always an outlier.

The first time Tom Brady met Patriots GM Robert Kraft, he told Kraft, “You’ll never regret picking me,” a statement that boasted confidence. During his rookie year, Tom impressed coach Bill Belichek in practice and made his way from fourth to second in the QB depth chart. In his second season the starting spot fell to Brady in Week 3 due to a Drew Bledsoe injury; Tom Brady never looked back. That season, he led a legendary game winning drive with 1:30 left in regulation to become the youngest QB to win a Super Bowl. Brady went on to win seven Super Bowls, three MVPS, five Super Bowl MVPS, and to have the only undefeated regular season in NFL history.  Pro Football Reference has a stat called NFL Approximate Value that weighs a player’s statistics and awards to determine their overall value. Tom Brady ranks first all-time at 316 compared to Drew Brees’ 277. Brady sits alone at the peak of greatness, the undisputed greatest player of all-time.

Sports Analysts will talk about Brady’s greatness and numbers for as long as humans exist, but there is an important lesson to be learned from Brady’s career that many will overlook. Brady said it himself in a 2020 interview, “Listen here, I don’t give a (bleep) if you were a first-round pick. I was 199. But listen, if you get a chance to be on the field, don’t mess it up. Because you may never get a second one.” This quote received a few days worth of media attention, but was quickly swept away in sports’ quick moving current. It is simple, but so important for everyone, not just athletes. The most important opportunities are usually rare, so it is important not to take them for granted. Tom Brady in 2000 was not the same Tom Brady that we know in 2022. It would’ve been easy for him to play poorly and flop out of the NFL like many other picks in the late rounds. For Brady, he knew that that Week 3 game in 2000 may have been the only shot he would get; he had to make it count. Anyone is capable of greatness, but only a few are persistent, confident, and most importantly, make the most out of their opportunities.