Tom Brady Shuts Down Haters Better Than Anyone
NFL fans love to hate Tom Brady. In 23 seasons, no NFL player in NFL history has had more haters than Brady, even though the legendary quarterback has had unprecedented success.
No one has ever played in — or won — more Super Bowls than Brady, who has won seven rings, six with the New England Patriots and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV in his first season there.
The thing that's made Brady so successful is his ability to tune out critics and distractions, at the highest level and then use that doubt to fuel his competitive fire. These are all the times that Tom Brady proved the haters wrong.
Not Good Enough to Start On a Winless JV Team
Who were the haters: JV football coaching staff at Junipero Serra High School
Bottom line: Playing on the junior varsity football team at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California, Tom Brady watched from the sidelines as the backup quarterback.
The team went 0-8 and didn't score a touchdown all season and never turned to the boy who would one day become the greatest quarterback of all time.
Brady became the varsity starting quarterback at Junipero Serra by the time he was a junior.
Expos Tell Brady He's Their Man
Who were the haters: Major League Baseball scouts (kind of)
Bottom line: Tom Brady was a superstar catcher in high school, hitting from the left side of the plate with power and a rocket arm.
He was a good enough prospect that MLB scouts came calling during his senior year of high school, even though he expressed his desire to play college football from the jump.
No team wanted Brady more than the Montreal Expos, who thought Brady could be an MLB All-Star within four years. They drafted him in the 18th round and offered him money similar to a high pick, but couldn't lure him away from football.
Wanting to Play Against the Best
Who were the haters: Most big-time college football programs
Bottom line: The mid-1990s were a wasteland for college football programs in California, which was where Tom Brady received most of his offers to play quarterback.
Brady turned down offers from Cal, UCLA, USC and Illinois to go play for powerhouse Michigan in the Big Ten — a school known for putting out NFL quarterbacks year in and year out.
Brady's father was a big-time Cal fan who hoped he would stay close to home.
Way, Way Down the Depth Chart
Years: 1995, 1996
Who were the haters: Michigan's coaching staff
Bottom line: When Tom Brady showed up at Michigan in the fall of 1995, he was seventh on the depth chart and redshirted. In 1996, he moved up to No. 4 on the depth chart and considered transferring to Cal but decided to stick it out.
Brady turned to the mental side of the game and hired a sports psychologist to help him deal with the anxiety and pressure he felt.
The result was a player who would one day change the game of football.
What Happened in 1997?
Who were the haters: Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr
Bottom line: By his third season at Michigan in 1997, Tom Brady was primed to compete for the starting position as a sophomore but lost out to Brian Griese and was relegated to backup quarterback.
Or is that what really happened? Some accounts have Brady beating out Griese as the starter until a last-second visit from Super Bowl-winning quarterback Bob Griese, Brian Griese's father, to Michigan coach Lloyd Carr secured his son in the starting spot.
The Wolverines went on to win the national championship — more because of Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson than Griese.
Michigan Tries to Replace Brady ... While He's Still There
Who were the haters: Michigan's coaching staff and lots of Michigan fans
Bottom line: Michigan signed in-state quarterback Drew Henson, the nation's No.1 high school quarterback in 1998, with the promise he would be able to come in and compete for the starting job right away.
Brady, at this time a junior and in his fourth year at Michigan, beat Henson out for the starting job in 1998. He also started every game and was named honorable mention All-Big Ten.
It was an early lesson for the world to never doubt Tom Brady.
Forced to Split Time
Who were the haters: Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr (again)
Bottom line: Feeling pressure from the outside, Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr named Tom Brady as the starting quarterback in 1999 with the caveat Brady would split time with highly touted recruit Drew Henson.
This was a disaster. Brady played the first quarter, Henson played the second quarter, and Carr decided on the quarterback for the second half. The experiment imploded in Michigan's first loss of the season, when Carr went with Henson in the second half against Wisconsin.
Michigan went down 34-17 before Carr turned back to Brady, who orchestrated a furious comeback but lost 34-31. Brady was the full-time starter the rest of the season.
Alabama Tries to Steal Orange Bowl
Who were the haters: University of Alabama's defense
Bottom line: Tom Brady concluded his career at Michigan with perhaps the best two performances of his career — a game-winning drive to beat Ohio State in the regular-season finale and in the Orange Bowl against Alabama.
Against the Crimson Tide, Brady threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns and rallied the Wolverines from a 14-0 deficit in the first half and a 28-14 deficit in the second half on the way to an overtime win.
The final score? Michigan 35, Alabama 34.
NFL Scouts Are Not Impressed
Who were the haters: NFL draft analyst Joel Buchsbaum
Bottom line: Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr did a number on Tom Brady's draft stock by making him split time with Drew Henson for part of his senior season.
And we've all seen the famous photo of Brady at the NFL combine and watched his disastrous, 5.28-second 40-yard dash time.
The most damning evaluation came from NFL draft analyst Joel Buchsbaum, who said about Brady: "He is not what you're looking for in terms of physical stature, arm strength and mobility."
NFL Draft Turns Into Freefall for Brady
Who were the haters: Every single NFL team
Bottom line: After his disastrous showing at the NFL combine, Tom Brady was projected as a mid-to -ate-round pick in the 2000 NFL draft.
It would be the late rounds. A distraught Brady watched as he freefalled through the draft, until the New England Patriots selected him with the No. 199 overall pick in the sixth round.
To add insult to injury, six quarterbacks were taken before Brady — Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger and Spurgeon Wynn.
Meeting Robert Kraft for the First Time
Who were the haters: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (kind of)
Bottom line: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft became Tom Brady's biggest champion, but their first meeting was something we'll probably be reading about for a long time.
Kraft spotted Brady, who he called "very skinny," walking down a hallway at the old Foxboro Stadium holding a pizza box. Kraft says Brady told him, "Picking me was the best decision this franchise has ever made." And thought the rookie was crazy.
Brady disputes this. He says he told Kraft, "You'll never regret picking me." Whatever the actual words, Brady lived up to them.
Back Down the Depth Chart
Who were the haters: New England Patriots coaching staff
Bottom line: Tom Brady found himself in a familiar place when he joined the New England Patriots as a rookie — at the bottom of the depth chart.
Brady started training camp at fourth on the depth chart behind starter Drew Brees, John Friesz and Michael Bishop.
It wasn't long before Brady began to prove himself, working his way up to become Bledsoe's backup by the end of the season.
Doubts About Stepping in for Bledsoe
Who were the haters: Mainly Patriots fans
Bottom line: In March 2001, Drew Bledsoe signed the richest contract in NFL history when the Patriots inked him to a 10-year, $103 million contract. Just six months later, his career was changed forever with a vicious hit from New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis in the second game of the season.
Enter Tom Brady — a player few Patriots fans had faith in. He did little to assuage those fears in his first two games as a starter, but he hit his stride in the fifth game of the season and won 11 of the 14 games he started to win the AFC East, make the Pro Bowl and earn a first-round playoff bye.
Nobody Can Beat the Rams
Who were the haters: Super Bowl oddsmakers
Bottom line: The St. Louis Rams were trying to win their second Super Bowl in three seasons when they faced the New England Patriots and second-year quarterback Tom Brady in Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans.
The Rams were favored by 14 points but trailed 17-3 before rallying to tie the score at 17-17 with 1:30 left in regulation. Brady got the ball back at his own 17-yard line and drove the Patriots into field-goal territory, where Adam Vinatieri nailed a 48-yard field goal as time expired for the win.
It was one of many big game-winning drives Brady led in his NFL career.
Falling Flat After Super Bowl
Who were the haters: Most of the media covering the NFL
Bottom line: Tom Brady's fame shot through the roof after winning the Super Bowl, and the Patriots traded Drew Bledsoe to the Bills, cementing Brady's place as the franchise's quarterback of the future.
Brady had one of his worst seasons in 2002, posting a career-low 85.7 passer rating with a career-high 14 interceptions. The Patriots tied with the Browns and Dolphins for the AFC's wild-card playoff spot but were kept out when the Browns won the tiebreaker.
A Career in Jeopardy
Who were the haters: Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard
Bottom line: Tom Brady returned to the mountaintop in 2003 and 2004, winning back-to-back Super Bowls with the Patriots, then guiding them to an undefeated regular season in 2007 before losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl.
In the 2008 regular-season opener, Kansas City safety Bernard Pollard hit Brady low, in the pocket, tearing his ACL and MCL at the same time. Complications from the ensuing surgeries led to infections and put Brady's career in jeopardy.
Somehow, he returned in time to start the 2009 season opener for the Patriots.
Patriots Mystified by Giants
Years: 2008, 2012
Who were the haters: New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning
Bottom line: The New England Patriots lost to the New York Giants twice in the Super Bowl, with the first loss in 2008 considered one of the greatest upsets in professional sports history.
The second loss may have hurt even more, with Giants quarterback Eli Manning throwing a game-winning touchdown pass on the final drive of the game for the second Super Bowl win over the Patriots in four years.
Manning still has nothing but respect for Brady. "I don’t have any bragging rights with Tom," Manning told The New York Post in 2021. "This is his 10th Super Bowl. I’m so impressed with his whole career."
One Decade, No Rings
Who were the haters: Almost everyone
Bottom line: One of the crazier stats about Tom Brady's career, when we look back, will be that for all of his Super Bowl wins he went an entire decade without winning the big game.
Brady went a full decade after winning a Super Bowl in 2004 without winning another one, bringing home his fourth championship following the 2014 season with a thrilling, improbable win over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.
He also tied Joe Montana's record with his third Super Bowl MVP honor.
Deflategate Shines Harsh Spotlight
Who were the haters: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the Indianapolis Colts
Bottom line: In May 2015, just three months after the Patriots' Super Bowl win over the Seahawks, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced there was "serious and substantial" evidence Tom Brady and Patriots employees tampered with the air pressure on footballs used in the AFC championship game win over the Colts.
Goodell suspended Brady for four games, and Brady's appeal was denied by the NFL. The two sides went to court, with the U.S. Southern District of New York overturning Brady's suspension, saying Goodell had "manipulated testimony" at Brady's appeal hearing.
Brady was allowed to play the entire 2015 season.
The World vs. Tom Brady
Who were the haters: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Bottom line: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found "overwhelming evidence of tampering" with footballs and reinstated the NFL's four-game suspension of Tom Brady.
Brady had his appeal turned down by the second court and gave up the fight, agreeing to sit out the first four games of the 2016 season.
This was one of the few times in his career — and life — where Brady didn't come out on the winning end. It wouldn't be for long.
Backs Against the Wall
Who were the haters: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and most of the sports media
Bottom line: In the history of the NFL, players who have killed, raped, maimed and sexually abused children have served shorter suspensions than Tom Brady did when he sat out four games for deflating footballs to get a better grip.
Brady took the shame from his suspension and turned it into an internal motivation few players have ever tapped into in the history of professional sports, leading the Patriots through the AFC and back into Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons.
Comeback for the Ages
Who were the haters: Atlanta Falcons
Bottom line: The New England Patriots and Tom Brady's quest for revenge against the NFL — mainly commissioner Roger Goodell — seemed to come to a screeching halt in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons.
But trailing 28-3 midway through the third quarter, Brady led the Patriots to 25 unanswered points and a 34-28 win in overtime. Brady won his fifth Super Bowl and his fourth Super Bowl MVP.
The icing on the cake? Goodell had to hand Brady the Lombardi Trophy in front of the entire world.
Too Old? Might Want to Think Again
Who were the haters: Father Time
Bottom line: For the sixth time in his career, Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl win, this time taking down the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
It wasn't just that Brady won the Super Bowl, however. It was how he did it. Brady became the first 40-year-old quarterback to start every game for his team and had one of the best seasons of his career, becoming the oldest player to ever win NFL Most Valuable Player honors.
Max Kellerman's Coldest Take
Who were the haters: Max Kellerman
Bottom line: After Tom Brady won his sixth Super Bowl in February 2019, and second in three seasons, few takes in sports media history came under as much scrutiny as ESPN host Max Kellerman's infamous evaluation of Brady before the 2016 season.
Kellerman, who said Brady's career was about to "go off a cliff" suffered through three years of the Patriots winning and two Super Bowl wins (and they came close to winning three straight).
The longtime Giants fan and boxing expert has been a pretty good sport about it over the years.
Patriots' Drama Plays Out in Public
Who were the haters: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
Bottom line: Few pieces of journalism about off-field drama and team politics have caused as much of a stir as Seth Wickersham's ESPN piece on the behind-the-scenes drama between New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft that came out in January 2018.
The biggest scoop? The revelation Belichick had been forced to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo against his wishes — a move mandated by owner Robert Kraft at Brady's request.
Belichick wanted Garoppolo to be the Pats' future. Brady didn't want to look over his shoulder anymore. Brady won.
Let's Take a Quick Timeout … for UGGs
Who were the haters: Pretty much everyone who never wore UGGs
Bottom line: Few endorsement deals by a professional athlete have drawn more scorn than Tom Brady's with shoe company UGG, where he's been a pitchman from the 2010s.
Most of the people who are hating on UGGs have quite simply never worn a pair before. They're incredibly comfortable and fashionable and Brady has rode that to even more riches.
He earns a reported $6 million per year from endorsements with UGG, Tag Heuer watches and Under Armour.
Florida Man Tries to Win Super Bowl
Who were the haters: NFL sports media, NFC opponents
Bottom line: Tom Brady and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's relationship fell apart during the 2019 season, when Belichick seemed to heap more and more criticism on the team's offense, which Brady of course took personally.
By the end of the year, it was clear that the two would part ways after 20 years together, and we'd finally get to see, once and for all, who was the real reason behind the Patriots' six Super Bowl wins.
Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for $50 million for two years. Belichick stayed put.
That's What Friends Are For
Who were the haters: People who thought Rob Gronkowski wouldn't come out of retirement
Bottom line: Tom Brady's beef with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had ripple effects — and caused even more problems for Belichick.
Brady had a fiercely loyal teammate in All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had openly stated he wasn't going to play with any other quarterback and actually retired from football following the Patriots' Super Bowl win in 2019.
Brady talked Gronkowski out of retirement and onto Tampa Bay's roster. And it wasn't even that hard.
Two Bulls in a China Shop
Who were the haters: Armchair psychologists
Bottom line: One of the main criticisms of Tom Brady signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was about how he would mesh with head coach Bruce Arians.
Brady, largely beyond reproach in New England, was going to play for a coach known for his upfront (sometimes abrasive) style and for calling players out in public.
The first time he did it to Brady, would they be able to coexist? Not only did they coexist, they thrived. The Bucs went 11-5 and earned a wild-card spot in the NFC playoffs.
What Do These Men Have in Common?
Who were the haters: New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers fans
Bottom line: There's a cold truth for fans of the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers — and for future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.
That truth is that in one season, Tom Brady matched the number of NFC titles that both Brees and Rodgers have earned in over a decade in the NFC. One each.
That he did it by beating both teams further adds to the humiliation.
And the Next Hater Is …
Who were the haters: Everyone in America (outside of Tampa Bay)
Bottom line: Super Bowl LV has given us perhaps the most hater-ific moment of Tom Brady's career.
At 43 years old, Brady played against 25-year-old Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the player who is perhaps the next in line to try and take Brady's mantle as the best to ever do it. Brady led the Buccaneers to a 31-9 win, picked up his seventh Super Bowl win and took home the Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time.
If there's one thing we know about Brady, these are the situations he thrives in the most.
Related: Most Amazing Tom Brady Facts l Why Patrick Mahomes Is the $500 Million Man