Hard to figure. Somewhat curious.
In the pantheon of “words that can come back to haunt you,” those rank up there. They were uttered in the spring of 2000 when the New England Patriots selected Michigan quarterback Tom Brady in the sixth round.
While everybody can be forgiven for not recognizing that the course of pro football history had been changed — that Brady’s career would surpass the 198 players taken ahead of him collectively — a look back at what was said then is more than a reminder the draft is a crapshoot.
“Brady pick hard to figure” said the headline in The Boston Herald. “What’s with that?” the paper went on to say. “Why another quarterback? The Patriots already have their franchise starter in Drew Bledsoe, a proven veteran backup in John Friesz, and a young developmental player in Michael Bishop.”
Absolutely. Let the first stone be cast by any of those among us who has never said you don’t need Tom Brady when you have Michael Bishop.
But there’s more. Massachusetts’ Telegram & Gazette called the Brady pick “somewhat curious.” The Boston Herald used a similar description, only not being in such a gracious mood, it dropped “somewhat” as a qualifier.
Days later, as the Patriots began rookie orientation camp, The Herald speculated on which quarterbacks would be the odd men out, concluding Brady and Bishop “would be trade possibilities.” At least the report warned against picturing Brady on the practice squad. Another team probably would claim him, it said.
A calming voice belonged to Belichick, who said Brady was simply the highest-rated guy left on his board.
“He’ll make everybody forget Drew Bledsoe, win five Super Bowls for us, become a Hall of Famer and supplant Joe Montana as the consensus pick as the greatest quarterback ever,” Belichick said at the time.
In reality, Belichick did not say any of that.
“We’ll put him out there, let him compete and see what happens,” is what Belichick did say.
Entering the draft, the consensus was there were at least a half-dozen quarterbacks more coveted. The Los Angeles Times rated the best as Chad Pennington (who would eventually play for the Dolphins), Chris Redman, Tee Martin, Todd Husak and Giovanni Carmazzi. Lumped under the label “the rest” was Brady, at No. 10.
Carmazzi actually warrants a moment of attention. Coming out of Hofstra, he was taken by San Francisco in the third round. He never played a down in the NFL.
So Carmazzi did not become the GOAT. He did, however — and we absolutely are not capable of making this up — become a goat farmer who practiced yoga.
In more bland matters, the one visit Carmazzi took was to the Dolphins.
“I’m not going to say that we wouldn’t draft a quarterback,” then-Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt told Newsday. “We’ve got a couple of guys who are rated really high. … But with our quarterback situation right now, we’ve got three young guys — Jay Fiedler, Jim Druckenmiller and Damon Huard — who we’re trying to develop.”
Absolutely. Let the first stone be cast by any of those among us who has never said you don’t need Tom Brady when you have Jim Druckenmiller.
Brady had a very Brady-like reaction to not going as high as he’d hoped all those years ago.
“I don’t think disappointment is the word,” Brady said back then. “Whether it’s the second or sixth round, I think everyone starts on the same level.”
In truth, almost every franchise can pinpoint a time they lucked out in the draft. Don Shula had a chance to stick out his chest years ago when asked about one of the “smartest” picks he ever made — receiver Mark Clayton in the eighth round in 1983.
“He was there,” Shula said. “When you take somebody that late in the draft, obviously you don’t have great convictions about him. Otherwise you would have taken him a lot earlier.”
So give the Patriots credit for taking Brady.
Give Belichick credit for being a genius.
Just use a little caution in putting those two together.
In Brady’s class?
Much has been made of quarterbacks taken in the 2000 draft before Tom Brady, starting with the first QB selected, Marshall’s Chad Pennington at No. 18 to the New York Jets. But little has been said about passers evidently considered equal to Brady in terms of where they actually were drafted. Keeping in mind Brady was the 199th player taken, here’s a look at the passer taken directly before him and all four drafted after him.
Rd. (pick) ;Player ;College ;NFL
6. (183) ;Spergon Wynn ;Texas St. ;Browns
Comment: Two NFL seasons; career rating 39.5.
6. (202) ;Todd Husak ;Stanford ;Redskins
Comment: Never threw incompletion (2 for 2 career totals).
7. (212) Tim Rattay ;La. Tech ;49ers
Comment: Best career of bunch; 4,853 yards; 81.9 career rating.
7. (214) Jarious Jackson ;Notre Dame ;Broncos
Comment: Only 22 attempts in four seasons.
7. (234) Joe Hamilton ;Ga. Tech ;Buccaneers
Comment: Four seasons, 0 passes, but did lose 2 yards with one rushing attempt.
Patriots’ higher priorities?
Here are the six players the Patriots drafted in 2000 before they got around to Tom Brady.
2. (46) ;OL ;Adrian Klemm ;Hawaii
Comment: Six seasons in NFL but never started more than four games in a season for Pats.
3. (76) ;RB ;J.R. Redmond ;Arizona St.
Comment: 406 yards as rookie by far his best of six NFL seasons.
4. (127) ;OT ;Greg Randall ;Michigan St.
Comment: Starter in ’01 but career lasted only four seasons.
5. (141) ;TE; Dave Stachelski ;Boise St.
Comment: Two seasons with Saints; one catch for 5 yards.
5. (161) ;DE ;Jeff Marriott ;Missouri
Comment: Never played in NFL.
6. (187) ;CB ;Antwan Harris ;Virginia
Comment: Started total of two games in six NFL seasons.
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