48 amazing true facts about Tom Brady
Sports fans look at Tom Brady, and see the seven Super Bowl rings, the five Super Bowl MVP honors, the trio of NFL MVP trophies and a professional football career that has endured for parts of three decades. Brady, however, sees something else. He sees the journey. And the quarterback knows the real score. “It’s been a long, hard road,” he once said.
Brady’s story is full of good luck and bad breaks, comeback wins and tough losses, long odds and an almost longer list of accomplishments.
So, you think you know Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr.? Whether you're his biggest fan, or you love to hate this storied field general, what follows will give you an inside look at how a hardworking Little League baseball star became the face of the NFL.
To pose a football metaphor: Tom Brady's story is filled with the fumbles, sacks, first downs and touchdowns. Keep going to learn some amazing true facts.
1. He was a “face in the crowd” on his hapless high school freshman football team
At Junipero Serra High in San Mateo, California, Tom Brady began his prep football career as a backup quarterback on a freshman squad that went 0-8-1.
“I think he got into a play or two as an outside linebacker,” Tom MacKenzie, Serra’s varsity coach back in the day, once told MaxPreps. “Honestly, I barely remembered his name back then. He was sort of a face in the crowd.”
2. He’s been to a lot of Super Bowls (And we mean a lot)
Through 2021’s Super Bowl LV, Tom Brady had suited up for the big game 10 times -- or, for nearly one-fifth of all Super Bowls played in NFL history.
Among Super Bowl starting quarterbacks, Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway is No. 2 in all-time career appearances, with five (that's half of Brady's appearances, for those keeping score).
3. Where do these pads go? Brady got a late start to his football career
Tom Brady wasn’t green when he joined Serra High football’s program: He was very green. He didn't play organized football until he was 14.
“When I showed up as a freshman in high school, I didn’t know how to put pads in my pants,” he would recall.
4. More of a baseball guy
Tom Brady virtually grew up on the baseball diamonds of San Mateo, and, as MaxPreps once put it, was “something of a Little League legend.” By the time he got to Serra, the left-handed hitting catcher was an area all-star.
“...[I]f anything I thought he’d be a major league baseball player,” said John Kirby, a football teammate of Brady's at Serra, told MaxPreps. “He was known as a baseball player.”
5. Don't let it go to your head
By Tom Brady’s junior year at Serra High, the football newbie was the school’s varsity quarterback. In two varsity seasons, he threw for 3,514 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Brady’s emergence on the gridiron didn’t change him, according to John Kirby, who was the QB’s favored wide receiver. “He never saw himself as a high school quarterback star,” Kirby told MaxPreps. “He didn’t let the attention get to him then.”
6. He was selected in the MLB draft ahead of a future World Series hero
In June 1995, the Montreal Expos drafted 17-year-old Tom Brady. Other products of that draft included future Baseball Hall of Famer Roy Halladay -- and future Chicago Cubs manager David Ross.
A catcher, like Brady, Ross would go on to forge a 15-year MLB career, and club a home run for the Cubs in the team’s historic 2016 World Series run. In the 1995 MLB Draft, Ross was selected in the 19th round; Brady went in the 18th.
Neither player signed: Ross opted to play college baseball; Brady opted to play college football.
7. This town ain't big enough for the seven of us
When Tom Brady arrived at Michigan in 1995, ESPN reported, he was seventh among the school’s seven scholarship quarterbacks. He ended up redshirting his freshman year, meaning he never saw action. He didn’t see much action his second year, either.
"He briefly thought of leaving Michigan and transferring to Cal…,” author Michael Holley wrote in the book, “Belichick and Brady: Two Men, the Patriots, and How They Revolutionized Football,” “[b]ut the challenge, or the need, of getting to the top of that depth chart was far greater than the urge to go back home and play.”
8. Brady did quit this day job
For two summers in the late 1990s, Tom Brady was a college intern at the Merrill Lynch office in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
″[He] worked hard, did what he was asked to do [and] liked to be busy,” Oliver Owens, who was Brady’s boss, remembered for CNBC.
Brady demurred when Owens told him he had the potential for a career in finance: Brady had his sights set on the NFL
9. The cherry on top of his Michigan career
As he did at Serra, Tom Brady worked his way into the QB job at Michigan. And though he would share snaps in 1998 and 1999 with Drew Henson, Brady came out on top at the end.
In the 2000 Orange Bowl, Brady’s final college game, the Wolverines QB threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns in a come-from-behind, overtime win over the fifth-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.
10. Slow and steady doesn't win you much attention here
In football, the 40-yard dash is the gold standard in determining who’s a speedster and who’s a sandbag. Run a sub-4.3-second time, and you’re a legend. Run a 4.8-something, and you’re a quarterback with good-enough speed (like Patrick Mahomes).
In 2000, NFL scouts at the scouting combine watched Tom Brady post a 5.25-second time.
Of the 18 quarterbacks whose 2000 combine stats are noted on ProFootballReference.com, Brady’s time was the second-slowest. He was outrun by the likes of 326-pound offensive tackle Todd Wade (5.22) and 325-pound offensive tackle Chris Samuels (5.08).
11. No really, he's not fast
The stopwatch wasn’t wrong: Tom Brady wasn’t fast, and he wasn’t going to rack up yards with his legs in the NFL.
In the first 21 years of his pro career, Brady rushed for more than 100 yards in a season only three times. By comparison, through the 2020 season, Russell Wilson had rushed for fewer than 489 yards only three times in his first nine years. And Aaron Rodgers had rushed for three times as many career yards (3,271) as Brady -- and in five fewer seasons.
12. He wasn't a draft king... or even a prince
The 2000 NFL Draft opened on April 15, 2000. Defensive end Courtney Brown out of Penn State was the overall No. 1 pick for the Cleveland Browns.
In all, 94 players were selected on the draft’s Day 1. Michigan linebacker Ian Gold was one of them; teammate Tom Brady wasn’t.
13. He was drafted behind Giovanni Carmazzi
At the 2000 NFL Draft, three quarterbacks were selected on Day 1: Future New York Jets starter Chad Pennington, future backup QB Chris Redman and Giovanni Carmazzi.
Who’s Giovanni Carmazzi?
He was a third-round selection out of Hofstra for the San Francisco 49ers. At the combine, he ran a 4.74-second 40-yard dash. But his exit from the NFL was even swifter. He didn’t make the 49ers roster, and spent his brief professional career in Europe and Canada.
14. He was drafted behind Tee Martin, too
On Day 2 of the 2000 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected quarterback Tee Martin in the fifth round, with the 163rd overall pick.
Who’s Tee Martin?
Today, football fans know Tee Martin as a longtime college coach, of late with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.
In the early 2000s, Tee Martin was known as the QB whose Steelers’ career consisted of one game appearance, zero pass attempts and eight rushing yards.
15. And he was drafted behind Spergon Wynn, too
On Day 2 of the 2000 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected quarterback Spergon Wynn in the sixth round, with the 183rd overall pick.
Who’s Spergon Wynn?
Wynn’s an energy broker based in Texas.
Back in his football days, he was the QB out of Southwest Texas State who played in 10 NFL games over two seasons with the Browns and Minnesota Vikings.
16. He's number... 199?!
As Day 2 of the 2000 NFL Draft dragged on, a half-dozen quarterbacks had been taken off the board: Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin and future Rams starter Marc Bulger.
Then, with their sixth-round pick, the New England Patriots selected the seventh QB of the draft: Tom Brady.
Years later, Brady’s famous draft spot, No. 199, was immortalized in a mural at the Under Armour store in Boston’s Prudential Center.
17. He named a business after his draft slot
Tom Brady has never forgotten that 198 players were offered their tickets to the NFL before he was. In 2020, he even launched a production company called 199 Productions.
“When I was the 199th draft pick in 2000, I knew I needed to work hard every day to prove myself,” Brady wrote in an Instagram post. “Launching a production company is no different.”
18. He might've gone higher, but the Pats were biding their time
"We started talking about Brady around the third round," then-New England Patriots exec Scott Pioli said of the team’s 2000 draft strategy.
But head coach Bill Belichick and the Pats weren’t ready to move -- they had quarterbacks on the roster. And so Brady sat unclaimed.
"...By the time we got to the sixth round, Brady is all the way over to the left [on our draft board] by himself, and we said, 'What are we doing?',” Pioli said. “ …[E]veryone liked Brady ... so we took him."
19. Last man standing
In all, 254 players were selected in the seven-round, 2000 NFL Draft. Standouts to emerge from the group include Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher and longtime kicker Sebastian Janikowski.
In 2019, when Janikowski retired, the NFL was left with just one active player from the 2000 draft: Mr. 199, Tom Brady.
20. He might’ve made more money in finance
In 2000, Tom Brady signed with the New England Patriots for the then-rookie minimum of $193,000. But the only money that was guaranteed was his signing bonus, which was worth $38,500.
According to stats from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average starting salary for a college grad with a four-year degree in 2000 was $39,824.
21. The coach who lobbied for him never saw him become a star
Tom Brady came to the New England Patriots’ attention via quarterbacks coach Dick Rehbein, who’d been tapped by Bill Belichick to scout QB prospects in the 2000 draft.
In August 2000, just four months after the draft, the coach died of a sudden heart episode. He was 45.
22. His competition on the Patriots “never” thought he’d be a starter
Heading into the 2000 NFL season, Tom Brady was among the players vying to be a backup to Drew Bledsoe, the New England Patriots’ All-Pro quarterback.
Years later, Bledsoe would recall meeting Brady at training camp.
“I was like, ‘Hey, I really like this kid. [But] he’s never going to be a starter',” Bledsoe said he told his financial advisor at the time.
Never say never, Drew.
23. The Patriots didn’t think he’d be their go-to guy
Months after Tom Brady completed his rookie NFL season (consisting of one game, and one six-yard pass), New England doubled down on Drew Bledsoe.
The team's then-record deal with Bledsoe was designed to keep the former No. 1 draft pick with the Patriots through the 2010 season.
24. Don't stop believing
Tom Brady emerged from his NFL rookie season with supreme confidence. According to an ESPN account, Brady told Aaron Shea, his former tight end target at Michigan, that he was going to unseat Drew Bledsoe as New England's starting quarterback.
Shea reminded Brady that Drew Bledsoe was, well, Drew Bledsoe.
His friend’s response, per ESPN: “Brady just smiled.”
25. A hard hit and a big opportunity
In Week 2 of the 2001 NFL season, Drew Bledsoe and the New England Patriots hosted the New York Jets. Late in the fourth quarter, with the Patriots down 10-3, Bledsoe rolled out of the pocket, and headed down the sideline, where he was met by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis.
The hit would knock Bledsoe out of the game -- and into the emergency room.
Twists of fate
Though it wasn’t initially apparent, Drew Bledsoe had suffered internal bleeding in the Mo Lewis collision.
“Drew could have died,” Dr. Thomas Gill IV, the Patriots’ team physician at the time, recalled for Sports Illustrated.
Bledsoe wouldn’t be cleared to play again until November 2001. In the meantime, Tom Brady was the Pats’ No. 1 QB.
26. Promoted... twice
Tom Brady started the 2001 NFL preseason as New England's No. 3 quarterback, behind Drew Bledsoe and veteran Damon Huard, who’d inked a three-year deal to be the Pats’ primary backup.
But days before the Week 1 regular-season opener, Bill Belichick announced Brady would be his No. 2 QB.
Bledsoe’s injury came a couple weeks after that.
27. An inauspicious start
Tom Brady drew his first career NFL start on Sept. 30, 2001 -- a home game against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots took the opening kickoff, and Tom Brady took his first snap.
And then he was taken to the turf by the Colts’ Brad Scioli for a nine-yard loss.
“Things didn’t go well for Tom on the first play, but pretty much everything else did after that,” Scioli would later tell Forbes.
The Patriots won the game, 44-13. Drew Bledsoe never started another game for the Patriots.
28. He fumbled his way to his first signature win
After going 11-3 as a regular-season starter in 2001, Tom Brady led the Patriots to the playoffs. First stop: A snowy Division Round Game against the then-Oakland Raiders.
With time on the clock dwindling, and the Pats down 13-10, Brady was sacked by the Raiders’ Charles Woodson. The QB and the ball went flying. The Raiders pounced, and recovered an apparent fumble. The game seemed over. But then the rule book intervened.
After a video review, the play was ruled an incomplete pass: Brady was judged to have been tucking the ball to his side after attempting a forward pass. The “Tuck Rule,” it was called. The Pats retained possession, and went on to win the game in overtime, 16-13.
Brady would later say he thought he fumbled.
29. To get to his first Super Bowl, he needed the help of the guy whose job he took
In the second quarter of the 2002 AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tom Brady was sent to the sidelines with a sprained ankle. Drew Bledsoe was called off the bench for New England.
Bledsoe proceeded to turn a close, 7-3 game, into a decisive 24-17 win -- and a trip to the Super Bowl.
30. He was the youngest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl
Joe Namath and Joe Montana each won a Super Bowl at age 25. Then came Tom Brady.
On Feb. 3, 2002, Brady scored his first Super Bowl ring with a 20-17 New England victory over the then-St. Louis Rams. He was less than two years removed from being the 199th overall draft pick. And he was 24.
31. He was the youngest starting quarterback to win two Super Bowls
Troy Aikman won his second Super Bowl at age 27. Joe Montana was 28. Then came Tom Brady.
In 2004, the New England Patriots bested the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Tom Brady had his second ring at age 26.
32. He was the youngest starting quarterback to win three Super Bowls
Through the 2020 NFL season, four starting quarterbacks had won at least three Super Bowls. Joe Montana got his at 32. Terry Bradshaw, at 30; and, Troy Aikman at 29. Then came Tom Brady.
Brady bested his heroes and set a new mark by claiming his third Super Bowl title at age 27, with a New England win over the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005’s Super Bowl XXXIX.
33. He served one of the longest suspensions in NFL history
In 2015, Tom Brady was suspended four games after the NFL found that New England had improperly deflated footballs per the liking of the team’s Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
“At best, it was a relatively minor rules violation...,” ESPN’s Kevin Seifert wrote in a look back at the scandal.
But Brady’s sentence, served in 2016, was major. It tied for the fifth-longest in NFL history (not including season-long or lifetime suspensions).
34. He's a relative bargain
On his way to his record seventh Super Bowl win, Tom Brady was the 13th-highest-paid player in the NFL in total cash in 2020, with $28.375 million, per Spotrac.
You have to go back to the 2010 season to find the last time -- and only time to date -- that Brady was No. 1 in average annual salary. He made $19 million that season.
35. He tried to help Aaron Hernandez
Tom Brady’s most infamous teammate from his New England Patriots days was Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez came to the team out of college with a reputation for causing trouble -- and being troubled.
After a 2011 game between New England and Denver, Tom Brady reached out to Broncos QB Tim Tebow, a former teammate of Hernandez's at Florida.
“...I’m trying to watch over Aaron…,” Brady assured Tebow.
Hernandez, however, went his own way. Two years later, he would be arrested for, and ultimately convicted of, murder.
36. He once saw a crazy catch that made him “[fall] in love with football”
On Jan. 10, 1982, the Dallas Cowboys were minutes away from a trip to Super Bowl XVI when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana lofted a pass into the end zone, and wide receiver Dwight Clark hauled it in for the decisive touchdown. The moment became known as “The Catch” -- and 4-year-old Tom Brady was there.
Brady’s parents were 49ers season-ticket holders. The big game made an impression on the preschooler.
“He was inspired by it,” Brady’s father, Tom Brady Sr., recalled. “That was a time when he kind of fell in love with football.”
37. He once saw a crazy catch that turned his stomach
Heading into 2008’s Super Bowl XLII, Tom Brady’s New England Patriots had won as many games (18) as any NFL team ever. If they won the big game, they would close out the season an unprecedented 19-0.
With 1:15 left in the game, the Patriots up 15-10 and the Giants facing a do-or-die, third down, New York wide receiver David Tyree caught a 32-yard Eli Manning pass on his helmet to set up a go-ahead touchdown. All Brady could do was watch from the sidelines as his team’s bid for perfection abruptly ended.
"It was a month before I really felt back to myself," Brady would tell Oprah Winfrey. "It was a nightmare. You woke up the next morning...I said, 'It didn't happen. There's no way it happened.'"
38. He found a new beginning in a season-ending injury
Midway through the first quarter of New England’s 2008 season opener against Kansas City, Tom Brady suffered two torn knee ligaments from a hit by Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard. His season was over, as was his 128-game starting streak.
But Brady gained something from the loss: perspective.
"I think the one thing I learned [was] … even when we lose now, I walk off the field going, ‘Well, at least I get a chance to go out there and do it again,’” Brady would say.
39. He pulled off a comeback win in his 2009 comeback game
On Sept. 14, 2009, in New England’s season opener, Tom Brady returned to action following the previous year’s knee injuries. Not only that, he returned to form.
Brady engineered a come-from-behind win for the Patriots, turning a 24-13 fourth-quarter deficit into a 25-24 victory.
40. He says no to eggplant and tomatoes
Tom Brady is seen here eating turkey legs with New England teammates following a Thanksgiving Day win in 2012. Turkey is one of the foods that Brady continued to feast on after the post-injury QB looked to prolong his playing career with the help of a strict diet.
Among the foods that Brady nixed were the usual suspects (sugar, trans fats, packaged snacks, sweetened drinks) and the unusual ones, too, i.e., nightshade vegetables, including, per Vox.com, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant.
41. He says yes to guacamole with basil
Foods on Tom Brady’s shopping list include lean meats, organic vegetables, quinoa, coconut oil and avocados.
In February 2021, Brady’s guacamole recipe was published on his health and wellness site, TB12. It called for the usual (i.e., avocado) and the less-usual (i.e., basil), and was said to be best served with “veggie sticks and Sweet Potato Toast.” No chips.
42. He’s thrown for 45 miles
Through the 2020 NFL season, only Drew Brees had accumulated more passing yards than Tom Brady.
Brees had thrown for 80,358, while Brady was at 79,204 -- or, the equivalent of 45 miles. With Brees headed to retirement, Brady stood to pass Brees in passing during the 2021 season.
43. He built up his arm in the newspaper business
On the Dax Shepard podcast, “Armchair Expert,” Tom Brady recalled that his first job was a newspaper route. He was a child at the time, and relied on the assistance of his mother, Galynn Brady, and the family van.
Every day, Brady would pile into the truck (piloted by his mom, natch), and fling papers out the side door.
“[M]aybe career training,” Brady said.
44. He’s taken more hits than almost everybody in NFL history
Though the 2020 NFL season, Tom Brady was one of only four quarterbacks to be sacked more than 500 times.
Brady stood at No. 2 on the dubious list, with a whopping 521 knocked-to-the-turf moments. He was ahead of John Elway and Ben Roethlisberger, and just behind the most sacked QB of all-time, Bret Favre.
45. His hair is just as famous as he is
Tom Brady is seen here in 2019 showing off what USA Today would call “The Fade.” The outlet has cataloged and ranked the hair stylings of the quarterback through the years. As of 2018, USA Today had come up with a total of 16 different Brady styles.
“Of all the haircuts throughout the years, my favorite one...is the next one,” a self-aware Brady tweeted in 2020.
46. His niece is a stud in her own right
Growing up, Tom Brady was the youngest (and only boy) of four siblings. His elder sisters were accomplished athletes, especially Maureen Brady, who was a Division I college softball pitcher.
Today, Maureen Brady is a mom to the next generation of Brady jocks.
47. He’s the oldest, second-oldest and third-oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl
Tom Brady’s really in a class of his own when it comes to longevity -- productive longevity.
In Super Bowl history, only three starting QBS have been age 40 or above -- and Tom Brady is all three. He was 40 in 2018’s Super Bowl LII (a loss for his New England Patriots). He was 41 in 2019’s Super Bowl LIII (a win for the Patriots). And he was 43 in 2021’s Super Bowl LV (a win for his Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
He’s also tied with Peyton Manning as the fourth-oldest Super Bowl QB of all time. (Both reached the big game at age 39.)
48. He’s no George Blanda. Yet.
At the end of the 2020 NFL season, Tom Brady was 43 -- a relative youngster among the NFL's most grizzled veterans of all time.
Quarterbacks Steve DeBerg and Warren Moon both took snaps in the NFL at age 44. John Carney is among the kickers who saw action at age 45. Morten Andersen, another kicker, stayed in the game until 47. And then there’s George Blanda.
The quarterback turned kicker was 48 when he played his 27th and final NFL season in 1975.
Brady has said he’d like to keep playing until his mid-40s.