Hall of Fame Game rewind: A look back at Tom Brady’s NFL debut in 2000

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In 2000, the New England Patriots were rolling with a new head coach in Bill Belichick, and a roster that Belichick and his staff were looking to overturn pretty severely. 1999, the last year of the Pete Carroll era, left the team with some underperforming veterans who were bleeding the salary cap, so Belichick looked to remake the team in an image that made him comfortable. One factor, though it was a negligible one early on, was the team’s sixth-round pick in 2000 — a quarterback from Michigan by the name of Tom Brady.

Belichick’s first look at his new team in a competitive situation came in the 2000 Hall of Fame game on July 31, at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, against the San Francisco 49ers.

The day before the game, Brady spoke with Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe about his first NFL opportunity, backing up starter Drew Bledsoe. Michael Bishop — s seventh-round pick in 1999 — was also in the quarterback rotation, and as a similarly low draft pick, Brady had his work cut out for him.

“I know that Drew is likely going to start the game, and he’s going to go out there and do well,” Brady said. “Then, Mike is going to go in and do well, and then, I am going to follow that up and play as well as I possibly can.”

Brady’s head was still spinning a bit with the rigors of the NFL, but he knew what he had to do.

“You’ve got to go out there and get the repetitions, and learn from your mistakes, and each day, get better — or else. Coach always says you get better, or you get worse, and hopefully as a quarterback, you get better every day.

“I’d like to [go out there tomorrow], make the good reads, to always be going to the right place with the ball. You know, I don’t care if we run the ball 15 times in a row, as long as we score touchdowns, that’s fine with me. The name of the game is winning, and when you are out there as a quarterback, you want your team to score points.”

The Patriots scored 20 points in their shutout of Steve Mariucci’s team. Brady didn’t see action until the fourth quarter, completing three of four passes for 28 yards in mop-up duty. But hey, it was a start.

Brady appeared in just one game in his rookie regular season, completing one of three passes for six yards. It wasn’t until 2001, when Jets linebacker Mo Lewis just about killed Bledsoe on a tackle near the sideline, that Brady got his real starting shot. That season ended with the Patriots beating the Rams in a major upset in Super Bowl XXXVI, and last we heard, Brady went on to do a few good things in a pretty decent career.

And it all started at the Hall of Fame Game. Who knows which players may emerge from 2021’s version between the Steelers and Cowboys?