Who Is Tom Brady?
Tom Brady was drafted by the NFL's New England Patriots in 2000, and the star quarterback has won three NFL MVP awards, four Super Bowl MVP awards and a record six Super Bowl championships. In an incident known as "Deflategate," Brady was suspended after an investigation into the charges that he knew about the illegal deflation of footballs before an important playoff game in 2015. Despite sitting out the first four games of the 2016 season, Brady went on to lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl LI victory over the Atlanta Falcons and added to his collection with a historic win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. After 20 seasons in New England, Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March 2020. He is also known for his marriage to supermodel Gisele Bündchen.
Early Life and College Career
Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. was born on August 3, 1977, in San Mateo, California, Brady excelled at both football and baseball at Junipero Serra High School. After graduating in 1995, Brady passed up a chance to play professional baseball to go to the University of Michigan.
Although a member of the school's football team, Brady did not spend much time on the field in his first two college seasons. In his junior year, however, he served as the starting quarterback. That season, Brady threw 350 passes for 2,636 yards. In his final season, he helped lead his team to an Orange Bowl victory.
Moving on to the NFL, Brady was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. Initially, he served as a backup quarterback and played in only one game during his first season.
The 2001 season was a different story: After starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured, Brady took over, proving himself a strong leader with a powerful arm. Anyone who doubted his abilities only had to look at the team's record, an impressive 11 wins to 3 losses in the 14 games that Brady started. In the postseason, he helped the team secure a win over the St. Louis Rams at Super Bowl XXXVI, and Brady received the game's MVP award.
Two years later, Brady led his team to another win at Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Carolina Panthers, for which he earned a second Super Bowl MVP award. And in the 2004 season, Brady again led the team to Super Bowl success, taking down the Philadelphia Eagles, 24-21.
In 2005, Brady signed a new six-year contract with the Patriots, and for the 2006 season, the team had a 12-4 record in the regular season.
Near-Undefeated Season and Injury
With star wide receiver Randy Moss in the fold, the Patriots developed one of the most explosive offenses in NFL history in 2007. Brady passed for a then-record 50 touchdown passes to pick up his first MVP award, and the Patriots ran roughshod over the rest of the league en route to an undefeated regular season, before suffering a gut-wrenching loss to the New York Giants at Super Bowl XLII.
During the first game of the 2008 season, Brady was quickly sidelined with a knee injury. He had several surgeries and extensive rehabilitation to repair the damage, forcing him to sit out the entire season. While some wondered whether the injury would be a career-ender, Brady came back to prove the doubters wrong. He signed a new contract with the team in 2010.
In the 2011 season, Brady pulled out all the stops, helping the team secure their place at Super Bowl XLVI. The Patriots once again battled the New York Giants in football's ultimate game. Before the big event, Brady's wife, model Gisele Bündchen, sent out an email to friends and family. She asked them to pray for Brady and to "envision him happy and fulfilled, experiencing with his team a victory." Unfortunately, these prayers went unanswered, as the Giants beat the Patriots, 21-17.
Brady made headlines in December 2012, following a close game between the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. Brady had led the Patriots back from a 28-point deficit by the fourth quarter, but the 49ers ultimately took the game 41-34. Brady later commented on the outcome of the game, stating on WEEI-AM, "I'm really proud of the fact our guys never blinked an eye down 28 points against probably the best defense in the league."
'Deflategate' and Super Bowl XLIX Triumph
After the 2014 season, a new word entered the lexicon of Tom Brady lore: "Deflategate." After Brady's Patriots trounced the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game, it was discovered that several of the 12 game balls used by the Patriots were underinflated, one of them measuring 2 pounds per square inch below the minimum mark allowed by the NFL. Accusations of cheating followed, with Brady saying, "I didn't alter the balls in any way, [and] I would never have someone do something that was outside the rules."
Making the accusations more notable than they otherwise might be, in 2007 Patriots coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 for an incident in which the Patriots were caught videotaping the signals of an opposing coach, in direct violation of league rules.
Amid the media frenzy that accompanied the cheating accusations, Brady tried to stay focused on preparing to play the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. En route to setting a Super Bowl record with 37 completions, Brady led his team back from a 10-point deficit to notch a thrilling 28-24 victory. With the win, he became the third quarterback to win four championships and the second to earn three Super Bowl MVP awards, cementing his standing as one of the greatest ever to play his position.
The subject of Deflategate returned to the headlines in May 2015, when a report released by investigator Ted Wells revealed that Brady was "generally aware" that a locker room attendant had tampered with footballs prior to the AFC Championship game. The quarterback was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season, and Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the punishment in July following an appeal. Brady and the NFL Players Association then filed a lawsuit to have the suspension overturned, their efforts proving successful in early September when a federal judge ruled in the quarterback's favor, on the grounds that the suspension was premised upon legal deficiencies.
The NFL appealed in 2016 and a judge overturned the decision to block Brady's suspension. Brady appealed again, but in July 2016 he said he would accept his suspension.
Historic Super Bowl LI Victory
Despite missing the first four games of the 2016 season, Brady helped the Patriots clinch another spot in the Super Bowl, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs. Before the championship game, Brady told reporters that he wanted to win the game for his mother, who was suffering from an undisclosed illness. “She’s the one I want to win for,” Brady said.
With his mother in attendance at the NRG Stadium in Houston and millions of fans watching, Brady did not disappoint. In a thrilling game, the first that went into overtime in NFL history, Brady led the Patriots to a 34-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. With this historic win, Brady became the first quarterback in NFL history to take home five Super Bowl rings. He surpassed quarterbacks Joe Montana, one of his idols, and Terry Bradshaw, who both have four Super Bowl wins. He also was awarded his fourth Super Bowl MVP for leading a 25-point comeback and throwing a Super Bowl-record 466 passing yards. Super Bowl LI marked Brady's seventh appearance in the big game, also an NFL record.
More Records and Super Bowl LIII Win
Showing no signs of slowing down at age 40, Brady threw for an NFL-high 4,577 yards while guiding New England to a 13-3 record in 2017. He shrugged off an ESPN report of a supposed rift between the QB, his coach and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, but a more serious issue surfaced in mid-January 2018 when Brady hurt his throwing hand in practice days before the AFC Championship Game. Although the injury reportedly required more than 10 stitches to close, Brady proved able enough to outlast a robust defensive effort from the Jacksonville Jaguars, throwing for a late touchdown to complete the comeback win and claim an amazing eighth AFC title.
Brady lived up to his big-game reputation yet again in Super Bowl LII vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, surpassing his previous year's mark by throwing for a record 505 yards. However, the Patriots were forced to play catch-up nearly all evening, thanks to the inspired play of opposing quarterback Nick Foles, and Brady's last-second heave into the end zone was knocked away to seal the heartbreaking 41-33 defeat.
Even with the disappointing finish, there was little doubt that Brady remained the gold standard at the game's most important position, as illustrated by the NFL Network's designation of him as the league's top-ranked player heading into 2018. While there were signs of slippage — Brady threw 11 interceptions, his highest total since 2013 — the veteran QB continued to come up big when it counted, guiding New England to the Super Bowl for the ninth time in his remarkable career.
Unlike matchups from previous years, Super Bowl LIII between the Patriots and Los Angeles Rams was a low-scoring affair, and Brady didn't even throw a touchdown. Yet, there he was engineering a pair of fourth-quarter scoring drives that helped the Patriots pull away for the 13-3 win, giving the quarterback an incredible sixth Super Bowl victory — the most for any player, at any position.
Farewell to New England
Even with critics carefully scrutinizing the 42-year-old quarterback's play, New England began the 2019 season with eight consecutive wins. The Patriots lost three of their final six games, however, the fears raised by their rocky finish coming to fruition when they were sent packing in the first round of the playoffs by the Tennessee Titans.
Following a season in which his passer rating slipped to 88.0 and he failed to earn a Pro Bowl selection for the first time since his injury-marred 2008 campaign, Brady's NFL future became a source of debate for fans who wondered whether he would retire, re-sign with New England or play elsewhere.
On March 17, 2020, the QB answered one of those questions with a statement posted to his social media accounts that revealed his intention to continue his career elsewhere. Thanking the Patriots faithful, he wrote: "My children were born and raised here and you always embraced this California kid as one of your own. I love your commitment and loyalty to your teams and winning for our city means more than you will ever know."
Three days later, Brady announced that he had signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Along with being a football champion, Brady was chosen as one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2002 and hosted the popular comedy show Saturday Night Live in 2005.
He and longtime girlfriend Bridget Moynahan split up in late 2006. The next year, she gave birth to their son, John Edward Thomas Moynahan, in August. Brady married Bündchen in February of 2009. The couple welcomed a son named Benjamin in December of that same year and a daughter, Vivian, born in 2012.
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