- Tom Brady thought being a captain in college was his greatest achievement in football, a book says.
- Brady started as the 7th-string quarterback at Michigan and worked his way to being a starter.
- Brady’s comments came in 2013 before he won four more Super Bowls.
For a long time, Tom Brady’s most prized achievement on the football field did not occur in the NFL.
According to Seth Wickersham’s new book about the New England Patriots, “It’s Better To Be Feared,” Brady used to consider being named captain of the Michigan football team his greatest achievement.
As Wickersham documented, Brady had a difficult time in college. At one point, he was the seventh-string quarterback on the roster. He eventually moved up to third-string but still worried he wouldn’t get a chance to pass the two quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart.
According to Wickersham, Brady began working with Greg Harden, a counselor at Michigan, who motivated Brady and gave him perspective on his uphill battle to become the starter.
When Brady expressed disappointment with only taking three snaps per practice, Harden reportedly told him: “Three reps is a heck of a lot better than zero reps. I want you to do with best you can with those three reps they give you.”
That advice motivated Brady and helped form his perfectionist approach to training.
Even by Brady’s senior year, when he was the starter, he still battled Drew Henson, a younger, athletically gifted quarterback from Michigan. Head coach Lloyd Carr split game reps between Brady and Henson, which bothered coaches and other players who believed it was “needlessly stringing along not just the better quarterback but an unquestioned team leader.”
Perhaps as a tribute to Brady’s hard work over the years, before the tip-off the 1999 season, teammates named Brady a captain.
According to Wickersham, during a preseason trip to play the Detroit Lions in 2013, Brady visited his alma mater and spoke to the football team.
“I didn’t have an easy experience,” Brady said. “I didn’t come in as a top-rated recruit. I didn’t come with the opportunity to play right away. I had to earn it.”
Brady eventually became the full-time quarterback over Henson. In 11 games as a senior, Brady threw for 2,217 yards, completed 61% of his passes, and threw 16 touchdowns to 6 interceptions.
As Wickersham wrote in the book, Brady’s 20-5 record as a starter caught Bill Belichick’s eye in the 2000 draft.
Brady said of being named a captain: “That, to this day, is the single greatest achievement I’ve ever had as a football player because the men in this room chose me to lead their team.”
Of course, this was said before Brady would win four more Super Bowls, including a 28-3 comeback over the Atlanta Falcons in 2016 and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 43 years old. Brady’s bar may have been raised as he cemented himself as the greatest quarterback of all time.