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TOM BRADY AS YOU FORGOT HIM
MICHAEL ROSENBERG
January 09, 2012
Before he became the premier postseason performer of his generation, the Patriots icon was a middling college quarterback who invited skepticism, even scorn, from fans and his coaches. That was all—and that was everything
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January 09, 2012

Tom Brady As You Forgot Him

Before he became the premier postseason performer of his generation, the Patriots icon was a middling college quarterback who invited skepticism, even scorn, from fans and his coaches. That was all—and that was everything

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Carr didn't promise Brady anything. In fact, the only promise to come out of the meeting was from Brady: "I'm gonna prove to you that I'm a great quarterback."

"That was a recommitment to the marriage," Tom Sr. says. In the younger Brady's mind, he had forfeited the right to complain.

Still, there would be, a year later, the issue of Henson.

"Drew Henson was special," says Temple offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, a former Michigan quarterback, a longtime quarterbacks coach and one of Brady's best friends. "He was a freak of nature in my opinion. He had remarkable talent. Unbelievable talent."

Greg Harden, a longtime employee of the football program who advises and counsels Michigan players, says Henson was like Superman, Brady like Batman. Batman doesn't have any superpowers, but as Harden says, "Batman believes he can whip Superman's ass."

Brady's resolve stiffened. He went to Schembechler Hall, the team's football facility, almost every night to watch extra film. He soaked up everything: schemes, opposing players' tendencies, the minds of Michigan's defensive coaches. Slowly, a different quarterback emerged. Brady recognized defenses before the ball was snapped. He knew which receivers would be open and, in what would become his hallmark, became unshakable in the pocket, able to maintain both his concentration and his accuracy when he was about to get hit. On the bus after games Brady could go through every incompletion in order and tell his teammates what went awry: wrong route, wrong read, bad throw, missed block. He had not yet watched film.

After that 0--2 start, Brady rallied Michigan to eight straight wins. But Carr mostly remembers a 31--16 loss to Ohio State in the regular-season finale. Brady was sacked seven times and drilled on several others. Yet he completed 31 of 56 passes, and Carr realized that with the biggest, fastest Buckeyes homing in on him, Brady never looked down.

And still, Superman lurked over Batman's shoulder.

The following summer, Henson, the man chasing Brady, wasn't even in Ann Arbor. He spent the spring and summer of 1999 playing third base for the Yankees' Class A team in Tampa, but his natural talent was so outlandish that when he returned to campus in August, he competed evenly with Brady.

That summer, Dan Henson attended every practice. When the season began, Carr told Dan his presence at practices could be a distraction and asked him to stay away. He did ... sort of. People within the program would see Dan sitting on an embankment underneath a bridge on Stadium Boulevard, watching practice.

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