How long has Tom Brady played in the NFL? When was he drafted and what teams has he played for?
As one of the most remarkable NFL careers comes to a close, we take a look at the long arc of Tom Brady’s story from draft to swan song
When Tom Brady was drafted in the 2000 NFL draft, nobody expected very much out of him. He had a solid, if workmanlike, college career at Michigan, and gave very little indication that he had greatness within him. The league responded in kind, by largely overlooking him, and when Brady was finally selected by New England, he went a lowly 199th overall.
Six quarterbacks were taken before Brady heard his name called: Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger, and Spergon Wynn.
Steal of the century? You bet.
Originally, the New England Patriots saw Brady as their number four, hopefully earning his experience by backing up Drew Bledsoe, John Friesz and Michael Bishop. By the end of that season, Friesz and Bishop were gone, and Bill Belichick saw Brady as the future of the franchise.
When Drew Bledsoe went down in the home opener of the 2001 season, the young quarterback took over and led the Patriots to a win in Super Bowl XXXVI, making the 24-year-old the youngest quarterback to ever win football’s highest prize. His performance was sterling, being named Super Bowl MVP while throwing for 145 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions.
After the Super Bowl, Bledsoe was traded to the Bills and Tom Brady would spend the following 19 years as the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots, ultimately winning four Super Bowls with them.
In 2020, he became a free agent and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he promptly won the Super Bowl with them, his fifth.
Brady holds nearly every major quarterback record, including most career passing yards, completions, touchdown passes, and games started. He is the NFL leader in career quarterback wins, quarterback regular season wins, quarterback playoff wins, and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Awards, as well as being the only Super Bowl MVP for two different franchises.
The only quarterback to win a Super Bowl in three separate decades, Brady is the oldest NFL MVP at age 40, the oldest Super Bowl MVP at age 43, and the oldest quarterback selected to the Pro Bowl at age 44.
After the Bucs 31-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card game, it is widely expected that Brady will retire. Many call him the greatest quarterback of all time, and even those who might not agree with that label certainly have to acknowledge that he has the numbers to back that claim up.
The secret of Tom Brady’s greatness may be in just how long he has played at that top level. In a 23-year career, Brady has managed to be competitive in every single one of them. Even in that performance against Dallas, what could turn out to be his last, there were moments, flickering and fleeting though they may have been, where Tom Brady was still threatening to do make an unbelievable play.
In the end, the Cowboys defense was too much for Brady and the Bucs. Sooner or later, father time catches up to us all. Even the great ones.