Twenty years ago, the world got introduced to Tom Brady in earnest.
Then just a 24-year old sixth-round pick out of Michigan, it didn’t take very long for Brady to get thrust into the national spotlight — a place he’s stayed for the last two decades.
Brady was taken in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft and appeared in just one game during the 2000 season.
Three games into the following season, a very green and inexperienced Brady was called upon to start after then-Patriots starter Drew Bledsoe got knocked out of the Week 2 contest against the Jets on a hit from Mo Lewis.
From there, it was Brady’s team and Brady’s job to lose, even if his first start on paper didn’t make it appear that way.
The Patriots routed the Colts 44-13 in Foxborough on Sept. 28, 2001, and though kicker Adam Vinatieri (three field goals) and running back Antowain Smith (94 yards and two rushing touchdowns), had impressive showings, Brady was fairly pedestrian.
He went just 13-for-23 with only 168 yards and was sacked once.
But his performance impressed some simply beyond the box score.
Here’s what Sporting News made of Brady’s first starts in the NFL 20 years ago from the pages of our Oct. 8, 2001 and Oct. 15, 2001 issues.
Oct. 8, 2001 edition: ‘The Brady Bunch’
Second-year QB Tom Brady was impressive in his first NFL start. He did a good job of recognizing the blitz and completing short, touch passes.
He also had a good feel on third down, converting several chances just past the sticks.
Despite his inexperience, he was unfazed by the pressure and unable to lead the team.
Drew Bledsoe probably will be out for six-to-eight weeks as he recovers from internal injuries.
When he comes back, though, things could get interesting.
— Michael Felger
Oct. 15, 2001 edition: Brady ‘biggest surprise’
Biggest Surprise: QB Tom Brady wasn’t drafted until the sixth round last year, then spent most of the 2000 season as the fourth quarterback on the roster.
Now, Brady is the starter, having jumped past Damon Huard to take over for injured Drew Bledsoe.
But if Brady’s ascension has been surprising, it also has been well-deserved.
For a player of his inexperience, Brady has shown poise, leadership and confidence.
Someday, maybe sooner than we think, Brady should be a full-time starter.
— Michael Felger