If I could go back to September 2001 and have an honest conversation with Bill Belichick, Id make one statement and ask him one question:
The statement: Bill, theyre going to find out about the videotapes, man. Abort the mission. ABORT the mission.
The question: So, whats your best-case scenario for this Brady kid?
Come on, havent you always wondered exactly what Belichick saw in Tom Brady? I mean, obviously there was something. At the very least, he went into that 2001 season believing that Brady was the best quarterback on his roster. But what did he really think? Was it, OK, well at least hes better than Bledsoe. Or was it more, Holy crap, we've found our Phil Simms! Or did he see something even better?
How high was his ceiling on Tom Brady?
Not that it matters one bit. But I'd love to know. For history's sake.
Anyway, Mary Paoletti has a good story up today with quotes from Belichick on the thought process that goes into narrowing a roster down to 53 players. And within those quotes, the coach tells an interesting story about Bradys rookie season, and the rare decision to keep four quarterbacks:
"Kind of a unique situation, Belichick said. We had really two third quarterbacks between Brady and Michael Bishop. One of them could have been on the practice squad . . . So then the question is, as an organization, which players do you want to protect? You can protect the ones on the 53. To some degree you can't protect the ones on the practice squad. In that particular case, that's why we didn't put Brady on the practice squad -- we wanted to make sure we had him, not so much for that year, but for the following year."
So, as you can see, its clear that Belichick saw something in Brady from the start. He didn't want to lose him. But at the same time, he still wasnt even sure if Brady was better than Michael Bishop. Right? I mean, at this point, Belichick had had a full season with Bishop a freak athlete, but also a seventh round pick who was out of football the next year. If he was so sure about Brady, he could have just parted ways with MB. Or maybe Belichick wasn't sure, and that one year (plus training camp) of watching Brady work behind the scenes was enough to convince him that No. 12 was a star?
Who knows? But I'd love to. And Im sure well find out someday. Maybe the details will be revealed in Belichicks first post-football biography, or maybe as he's presenting Brady at Canton. Whatever it is, the full story will eventually come out.
Until then, I'll settle for at least a few more years of watching these two run the show in Foxboro. (And, effective immediately, at least 10 minutes of googling Michael Bishop)