He might be regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time, but his sporting career could’ve taken a very different turn. Five years before debuting for the Patriots, Tom Brady was drafted by the Montreal Expos and, by all accounts, had the potential to be a star baseball player, too.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion announced his retirement from football on February 1, 2023, in a teary announcement shared to Twitter. “I know the process was a pretty big deal last time, so when I woke up this morning I figured I’d just press record, and let you guys know first,” Tom filmed his retirement speech on a beach. “It won’t be long-winded, you only get one super-emotional retirement essay and I used mine up last year, so. I…really thank you, guys, so much to every single one of you, for supporting me, my family, my friends, teammates, my competitors. I could go on forever. There’s too many. Thank you guys for allowing me to live my absolute dream. I wouldn’t change a thing. Love you all.”
When was Tom Brady drafted by the Montreal Expos?
Five years before he would find his way onto the New England Patriots roster, Brady was picked up in the Major League Baseball amateur draft in 1995. John Hughes, the Expos scout who drafted Brady, told the Hartford Courant in 2019 that Brady’s athletic ability made him a highly attractive rookie who looked like he “belonged” in a professional locker room. (Sidenote: Brady is not the only NFL star to have been eyed off by the MBL, as Broncos QB Russell Wilson and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, whose own father is a baseball legend, could’ve easily made careers as baseball players, too.)
“I never had as much fun scouting a player that we eventually didn’t sign,” chuckled Hughes, now an area scout with the Marlins. “We knew we didn’t have a good chance to sign him because he had the scholarship [to play football for the University of] Michigan.” He continued: “He was drafted in the 18th round because everyone knew how difficult it would be to sign him. He was very talented. I mean on talent alone he would have been projected a late second-round pick. And I believe he would have made it, as a catcher, he would have gotten there.”
In an interview with the Dan Patrick Show, Brady was asked where he would be today if he’d pursued baseball instead of football. “I’d be selling insurance,” he said with a chuckle. “Baseball was not my sport. I loved it, but football was the one I chose for a reason. Although I did love baseball, it was a great sport, especially growing up in California… That was my first love and then once I started playing football it was game over.”
Brady obviously made the right decision to choose football over baseball. Just two years into his starting career at the Patriots, he’d be the league’s top passing touchdown leader and would lead the New England team to their first Super Bowl victory—defeating the St. Louis Rams by three points in 2002. Brady would take the Pats to nine Super Bowls and win six of them. He’s a five-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player and three-time Most Valuable Player in the NFL. Brady also holds records for most career quarterback wins (251) most passing touchdowns (649) and most career passing yards (89,214).
But NFL scouts weren’t as hot on Brady as the MBL ones were. He didn’t exactly have an outstanding career at Michigan and he ran a slow 5.28 40-yard dash. Brady was picked up by the New England Patriots in the 2000 NFL Draft in round six—199th overall and six QBs were picked before him. Below Chad Pennington, Giovanni Carmazzi, Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Marc Bulger and Spergon Wynn (Who? Exactly), Brady was selected with an underwhelming scout report. In a 2017 Instagram post reflecting on his time as a youth athlete, Brady noted scouts observed in him a “Poor build, Skinny, Lacks great physical stature and strength, Lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush, Lacks a really strong arm, Can’t drive the ball downfield, Does not throw a really tight spiral, System-type player who can get exposed if forced to ad lib, Gets knocked down easily.” He concluded with some advice he got from fellow Pat, Julian Edelman, who told him: “You can prove em right or you can prove em wrong!”
Before his retirement, Brady signed the most lucrative deal in sports broadcasting history, joining Fox Sports for $375 million over 10 years to be a lead NFL analyst on-air. “We are pleased to announce that immediately following his playing career, 7-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady will be joining us at @foxsports as our lead analyst,” said Lachlan Murdoch via Fox Sports’ Twitter. “Over the course of this long-term agreement, Tom will not only call our biggest NFL games with Kevin Burkhardt but will also serve as an ambassador for us, particularly with respect to client and promotional initiatives. We are delighted that Tom has committed to joining the Fox team and wish him all the best during this upcoming season.”
“They approached me after the season. And there’s a lot of history that I have with Fox,” Brady told Variety in July 2022 about the deal with Fox Sports. “I spoke with their executives, and I really had to evaluate if that’s what I wanted to commit to. I have a very unique perspective on football and how it should be played, and what good plays look like and what bad plays look like. I feel like I can still have a great impact on the game. I could stay in the game, doing what I love to do, talking about this incredible sport.”
For more about Tom Brady, read his book, The TB12 Method. The New York Times bestseller, which has been described as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers player’s “athlete’s bible,” takes readers through Brady’s revolutionary training, conditioning and wellness system that kept him at the top of the NFL for more than two decades. The book dives into Brady’s TB12 Method, a performance lifestyle brand he co-founded in 2013, that focuses on a more natural, healthier way of exercising, training and living and how to maintain one’s own peak performance while decreasing injury risks.
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