Tom Brady's 40 greatest moments: Nos. 40-31

(Yahoo Sports graphic by Amber Matsumoto)
(Yahoo Sports graphic by Amber Matsumoto)

Tom Brady has had one of the most storied careers in NFL history. With Brady set to turn 40 on Aug. 3, Shutdown Corner is counting down the 40 most memorable moments from Brady’s career, on and off the field.

40. The infamous courtroom sketch

It’s not often Brady looks bad. But when scenes from Brady’s August 2015 appearance in federal court over the deflate-gate case appeared online, it was hard to tell the man sitting at the courtroom table was supposed to be Brady; his hair was disheveled, his eyes were sunken, his cheekbones sharper.

Sketch artist Jane Rosenberg apologized, which was unnecessary, but her work launched a thousand memes. Our favorite? The one that put Courtroom Brady into the iconic Edvard Munch painting “The Scream.”

39. When he grew his hair out. And the Uggs. Ugh.

Speaking of Brady looking bad …

Brady has never been shy about changing his hairstyle – in early 2002, when he led the Patriots to the Super Bowl for the first time, it was pretty typical early-2000s young guy look: gelled and spiked in the front. A few years later, he sported a buzz cut, and at one point his hair was almost blonde. But in 2010, he let it grow.

And grow.

And grew a beard too.

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And let’s just say, there may have been more words written about Brady’s hair that season than his play.

Tom Brady experimented with a new hairstyle in 2010. (AP)
Tom Brady experimented with a new hairstyle in 2010. (AP)

(Thankfully, it was gone by the 2011 season.)

About the same time, he signed an endorsement deal with UGG Australia, which was previously known mostly for its ubiquitous shearling-lined suede boots seen on teenagers and their moms all over the U.S. But Brady made men’s UGG boots cool, and he also made sure his teammates benefited: everyone in the locker room started getting a pair of boots and a pair of slippers left at his stall at Christmastime.

38. Brady’s almost-perfect 2007 playoff game vs. Jacksonville

Brady was great during the 2007 regular season, then he was nearly perfect in New England’s postseason opener. In a divisional playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars he completed 26-of-28 passes – an unreal 92.9 completion percentage that’s the highest ever in a playoff game. He was perfect in the first half, not recording an incompletion until there was 10:32 left in the third quarter, on a pass intended for Ben Watson; he second miss came with 6:46 left in the game, on a short pass for Wes Welker.

It was the continuation of a stellar season for Brady, who won his first NFL Most Valuable Player award after his 50-touchdown 2007 regular-season performance.

37. Brady ends QB competition with Drew Henson with comeback over MSU

While he was head coach at Michigan, Lloyd Carr’s rule was that in the event of a tie between players in terms of who was better, the playing time went to the upperclassman.
That was all well and good until the 1999 season, when Carr welcomed highly-recruited local star Drew Henson to Ann Arbor. Henson was a standout prep quarterback and baseball player, and despite Brady winning 10 games the season before and being chosen a team captain, Carr decided to have to freshman split time with the fifth-year senior. The fear was that if Henson didn’t play, he’d leave the Wolverines for baseball, since he’d been a third-round draft pick of the Yankees coming out of high school.

In the sixth game of the season against rival Michigan State and with Henson under center, Michigan fell behind by 17 points. With the Wolverines’ undefeated record on the line, Carr turned to his senior and asked him to bring them back.

Brady nearly did, throwing for 241 yards over the final 18 minutes, but Michigan fell 34-31.
Still, Brady had made his point. He was the starter.

He ended his Michigan career with a brilliant performance against Alabama in the Orange Bowl, bringing the Wolverines back from a 14-point deficit twice – 14-0 and 28-14 – to win in overtime.

36. Brady and Bill O’Brien have a heated sideline exchange

By the start of the 2011 season, Brady had long been entrenched as the Patriots’ starter. Bill O’Brien was in his first official year as offensive coordinator, though he’d been de facto coordinator the previous two years.

But outside of New England fans, O’Brien was basically unknown.

That changed in a big way during a December game against Washington, when CBS cameras caught Brady and O’Brien in an expletive-filled shouting match on the bench. The reaction of many NFL fans was, “who the heck is that guy screaming at Tom Brady?”

It was O’Brien, whom Brady and backup Brian Hoyer had nicknamed “Teapot” because of how he boils over. O’Brien, now the head coach of the Houston Texans, laid into Brady after the quarterback’s fourth quarter end-zone interception, when he tried to get the ball to a well-covered Tiquan Underwood and the ball was picked off by Josh Wilson.

After the game, Brady admitted that he deserved the tongue lashing after a “stupid” play, and quarterback and coach moved on. It wasn’t the first time the two had butted heads.

35. Tom knows baseball? Brady selected in MLB Draft by the Montreal Expos

Brady started working with a personal quarterback coach to improve his throwing mechanics when he was 15, but he played other sports, baseball among them. At Junipero Serra High (alma mater of Barry Bonds) Brady was a catcher, and was good enough that the now-defunct Expos drafted the tall, left-handed backstop in the 18th round of the 1995 draft.

It sounds like hyperbole now, more than 20 years later, but former Expos general manager Kevin Malone told Bleacher Report this year that believes Brady “could have been one of the greatest catchers ever. I know that’s quite a statement, but the projections were based on the fact that we had a left-handed-hitting catcher, with arm strength and who was athletic,” Malone said. “But his first love was football.”

Funny: Brady the NFL player has always been mocked for his lack of athleticism, but Malone saw otherwise.

34. Live from New York, it’s Tom Brady hosting “Saturday Night Live”

Hosting “Saturday Night Live” is a sign you’ve made it in American pop culture, but NFL players don’t get to host that often: there have been fewer than 10 in the show’s 42-year history. Brady got to add his name to that list in 2005, and he did a pretty good job.

Among the skits Brady was part of was a trip to the carnival with friends that saw everyone – including an old woman in a motorized wheelchair – able to throw a football through a hole and win a giant teddy bear, except the football star.

Brady was also in a send-up of an old school employee instructional video, “Sexual Harassment and You” in which we learn it’s ok to be incredibly inappropriate with co-workers as long as you’re as good looking as Brady.

33. Brady arrives with his dominant big NFL game

After taking over for injured Drew Bledsoe early in the 2001 season, Brady’s first two starts can be kindly described as unspectacular; against the Colts and in Miami, he was a combined 25-for-47 (53.2 percent) for 254 yards and had no touchdowns and no picks.
But his third start gave the outside world a glimpse of what Patriots players had been seeing on the practice field.

Against San Diego, New England was down 26-16 with 8:48 to play and Brady brought them back for an overtime win. In staging the first of his 39 (and counting) fourth-quarter comebacks, Brady was 10-of-16 for 110 yards and a touchdown to Jermaine Wiggins that forced overtime.

The Patriots got help in overtime – the Chargers’ Alex Molden was flagged for a 37-yard defensive pass interference on New England’s first offensive play, putting Brady and his bunch in San Diego territory – but Brady got them in field-goal range for Adam Vinatieri, who converted the winning kick.

On the day, Brady was 33-of-54 for 364 yards and two touchdowns. The win was the start of a 10-2 finish for New England, an AFC East title and a postseason appearance that ended with a Super Bowl crown.

32. Brady the prankster takes the wheels off Matt Cassel’s car

In front of cameras and notebooks, Brady is generally reserved. But that isn’t always the case when he’s away from the spotlight.

One day during the 2006 season, reporters who walked into the Patriots’ locker room were amused to see three large car tires stacked in front of backup quarterback Matt Cassel’s locker. Turns out, they were the tires off Cassel’s car.

Brady and Cassel, then a rookie, had been engaged in an escalating prank war. According to Cassel, when he wouldn’t apologize for dumping trash on Brady’s car, Brady paid someone to put Cassel’s car on blocks, remove the tires, and put three of them in the locker room.

The fourth one was hidden, and Cassel couldn’t put his car back together until he found it.

31. Steelers DB Anthony Smith guarantees win over Pats .. and Brady torches him

Everyone has something they regret saying, the knee-jerk insult or misguided boast that ends up either making you feel bad – or look bad.

The latter was the case for Pittsburgh Steelers Anthony Smith in 2007. In the days leading up to the Steelers’ December visit to New England, Smith, a second-year safety, told reporters that his team would be the one to end the Patriots’ bid to go 16-0.

To say Brady and the offense picked on Smith is an understatement. Randy Moss torched him for a 63-yard touchdown, and to add insult to injury, the Patriots ran a double-pass trick play in the third quarter: Brady threw a long lateral to Moss, who threw it back to Brady, who launched a long ball to Jabar Gaffney … who had blown past Smith.

Brady made sure to get in Anthony’s face after that play, but wouldn’t repeat his message postgame, saying his mom wouldn’t be very happy if she read what her son said.