If Tom Brady is indeed retiring as ESPN reports on Saturday indicated, it will be the end of an era for a player considered by many to be the greatest of all time.
Through 22 seasons, Brady was a seven-time Super Bowl champion and five-time Super Bowl MVP, three-time regular-season MVP, 15-time Pro Bowler and the all-time leader in passing touchdowns, passing yards, completions and wins.
Recruiters and analysts saw talent in him in high school, but nothing like this.
With minimal recruiting attention as a senior, Brady and his father, Tom Brady Sr., mailed out tapes of his play to about 54 schools. At the time, only Cal had interest in the local star from Junipero Serra High School (San Mateo, Calif.), Brady Sr. told Bleacher Report, but the highlight clips helped garner more attention.
College coaches found this on their desk:
Brady had special moments throughout his high school career. After serving as the backup quarterback on the 0-8 freshman team as a freshman, Brady became the starter on junior varsity in his sophomore season. As his teammate John Kirby remembers, after that freshman season, Brady said “We’ve got to keep working out. I never want to have another losing season like that.”
He never would again. In the first game of his sophomore season, Brady led the team to a game-winning drive. On the receiving end of the winning score was Kirby.
That season, Junipero Serra got to the championship game. They lost on the final drive, one that Kirby said was interrupted twice when the opponent’s sprinklers went off on the field.
Brady’s two-year varsity career is splattered across the Junipero Serra record book, including top-five in career, single-season and single-game passing yards and career and single-season touchdowns.
As a senior, he passed for 2,121 yards and 20 touchdowns, according to the Junipero Serra record book.
Brady didn’t start playing football seriously until he was 14, according to the Athletic. As such, he was a three-sport athlete who truly excelled in baseball. His skill as a catcher and left-handed hitter led the Montreal Expos to draft Brady out of high school in 1995, but with college football offers in his pocket, he was intent on pursuing the gridiron.
Brady Sr. told Bleacher Report that the final five schools on the list were Cal-Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Michigan and Illinois. Brady ultimately chose the Wolverines.
As a starter over his junior and senior season at Michigan, he passed for 4,644 yards and 30 touchdowns to 16 interceptions while completing over 61% of his passes.
The rest is history. The New England Patriots drafted Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. He took over after an injury to starter Drew Bledsoe in 2001 and led New England to the Super Bowl. He went on to win six more, one coming with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And, like he told Kirby as a freshman, he found a way to make losses few and far between.