The time Tom Brady got locked in Notre Dame Stadium

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Long before Tom Brady became the GOAT, he was competing for a starting quarterback spot at Michigan. After the Wolverines split a national title with Nebraska in 1997, Brady entered his junior year set to replace Brian Griese in the starting spot.

It just so happened that roughly a month before Brady and Michigan were to open the 1998 season at Notre Dame, Brady was driving back to Ann Arbor from Chicago when he saw a sign for South Bend. What followed next was the future football legend having to escape Notre Dame Stadium.

Brady shared the story almost two-decades ago with NFL Films but it recently started to again make the rounds thanks to Tim Prister of Irish Illustrated.

So here is how the greatest quarterback the NFL has ever seen (this isn’t open to debate) got locked in Notre Dame Stadium.

First: A wedding in Chicago…

Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

“It was probably right around when ‘Rudy’ came out so there’s Touchdown Jesus…and this kind of aura of Notre Dame and I’m figuring I’ve never been to the stadium. There was a wedding in Chicago that I was a part of so on the way back to Ann Arbor from Chicago I drive by and see signs for South Bend. It’s about a month before we’re playing so I’m thinking I’ll stop in to see what it’s like so when I go down here and run onto the field for the first time it’s not the first time I’m here and getting used to the environment.” – Brady to NFL Films

He didn’t call it “The most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen” like Rudy’s dad did in the film but it does certainly sound a lot like Rudy when he first finds his way onto the Notre Dame Stadium grass.

Next – Sneaking In…

Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

“I pull up, its a Sunday afternoon, its probably about five or six o’clock and I had never been there but there is this huge steel gates to get in. It’s locked and I think ‘how the hell am I going to get in?’ so I think if I walk around maybe somebody left a gate open and sure enough halfway around there’s a gate that’s unlocked and there’s a lock hanging off but it’s not fastened to the gate.” – Tom Brady

Just out of curiosity have you ever tried doing this at Notre Dame Stadium or any other venue? I’ve been successful getting into Louisville, West Virginia and Vanderbilt but have remained locked out of Tennessee, Michigan, and West Lafayette’s during non-game days.

Next: Brady sees the sights from inside…

(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File

“I’m thinking, wow if somebody walks by from the outside they might lock it and lock me in so I lock it (and keep it) open and around and there isn’t anybody in the stadium. All I see is no trespassing signs so I’m kind of creeping my way through the stadium and walking on the field..”

“I just kind of took it all in. I walked up to the top of the stands and walked out and stood on our sideline and stood in the middle of the field real quick and I kind of ran across and you go and look at Touchdown Jesus from the stadium and it was cool.” – Tom Brady

Next: Uh-oh.

By USA TODAY Sports

“So I’m walking back out to the gate I guess someone had come into the stadium because that had unlocked the gate and then fastened the two sides of the gate together. So I’m thinking I’m locked in the freaking stadium, it’s six o’clock at night, my car is sitting out there in some illegally parked zone and I’m thinking I’m playing here in a month and I’m going to be on SportsCenter for breaking into the stadium!” – Tom Brady

Next: Brady’s great escape…

By USA TODAY Sports

“I’m trying to get out and I go up to one end of the stadium and there’s a big handicap ramp that goes up the side of the stadium and about 20 feet up there’s an open window that you can jump down onto the grass and I get up there and am looking down thinking I’m going to break my ankle. What’s worse, going to jail or breaking my ankle?

I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have a phone on me so I get into this maintenance tent and find a sledgehammer…I start beating the hell out of this extension ladder to get it off the wall and knock it off after about 10 times. This ladder was so busted up but I carried it halfway around the stadium where I was going to jump, climbed down, got in the car and drove out of South Bend faster than I ever drove in my life.” – Tom Brady

Brady says that he never told anyone about it at Michigan out of embarrassment but said there were a group of people watching him climb down and I turn around and they’ve got this camcorder…

It goes without saying but if you know anyone who may have a video tape from 1998 of a man in his early-20’s climbing out of Notre Dame Stadium, you know where to send it.

Finally: Did the early visit pay off for Brady and Michigan?

RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

The early visit to Notre Dame Stadium might not have hurt Tom Brady but it didn’t seem to do him any help either as the Fighting Irish had one of their biggest wins of the Bob Davie era with a 36-20 win over the defending (split) national champions.

Brady was 23 of 26 passing on the day for 267 yards didn’t throw any touchdown passes. See more photos from Brady’s only game (not visit as we now know) to Notre Dame Stadium here.