Tom Brady: From Sixth Round to Stardom

Tom Brady waves at the crowd.

Who is the greatest quarterback in NFL history? | Rob Carr/Getty Images

Thomas Brady Jr. was born on August 3rd, 1977, and grew up in San Mateo, California. His parents, Gaylnn Patricia and Thomas Brady Sr., also had three other children — all girls. Growing up, Brady was a three-sport athlete at Junipero High School in San Mateo, and he may have had a bright future in baseball had he not chosen to continue playing football. Brady was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 18th round of the 1995 draft.

Brady really did love football, but he struggled early on in his football life. Junipero’s varsity team didn’t place him in the starting quarterback role until his junior season. Even once he finished playing, a ton of colleges weren’t interested in him. That prompted him to send out highlight videos of his play to various schools, which lead to Brady ending up at the University of Michigan.

At Michigan, Brady once again found himself sitting on the bench as an underclassmen. Through the end of his sophomore season at college, Brady only got into six games for the Wolverines. He had yet to throw a touchdown, adding an interception and 15-for-20 passing to his ledger. He backed up future NFL starter Brian Griese, who led the team to a 12-0 record and a victory in the National Championship Game in 1997.

Beginning his junior season, Brady took over as the starter and started to draw attention to himself. That wasn’t always a good thing. Michigan fans weren’t all that enthusiastic about Brady, with a lot of them thinking that freshman QB Drew Henson would be better to lead the team on the field. That even led to fans booing Brady at times during the year. As a junior, Brady completed 61.9% of his passes with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The Wolverines had a 10-3 record that year, winning the Citrus Bowl over Arkansas.

Brady returned again as a senior in 1999, leading the team to a 10-2 record and a win in the Orange Bowl over Alabama. Brady finished the year with 16 touchdowns to six interceptions, along with a 61% completion percentage. It wasn’t good enough to draw any real attention to himself in the NFL, with teams widely considering Brady to be a not-so-serious prospect. On draft day, he was finally taken 6th round — 199th overall — by the New England Patriots.

2000 and 2001

New England Patriots' quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady run drills side-by-side. | Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images

New England Patriots’ quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady run drills side-by-side. | Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images

In his first season, Brady sat on the bench behind veteran Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe. It made sense, with Brady being such a late-round draft pick and Bledsoe having lead the Pats to a Super Bowl just a few seasons prior. Brady got into just one game in his rookie season, going 1-for-3 passing in a 5-11 year for New England.

But in his second season, Brady finally got a chance on the field. Bledsoe began the season as the starter yet again, but he lost the season opener to the Cincinnati Bengals and left trailing in the second game against the New York Jets with an injury. Brady came in and finished out that game, going 5-for-10 passing for 46 yards in a loss that dropped the Pats to 0-2 on the season.

There wasn’t a lot of hope for New England at that point, coming off a bad year and staring down at another one. But Brady and the Patriots beat up Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts the next week, winning by a score of 44-13, and they finished up 11-3 after their ugly 0-2 start. That was good enough to earn the Pats a postseason spot with the rookie Brady taking over for Bledsoe as the starter.

In his first playoff game, Brady was 32-for-52 for 312 yards, an interception, and a rushing touchdown against the Oakland Raiders. He helped lead the team in a comeback that featured 10 fourth quarter points to tie the game, leading into an Adam Vinatieri field goal that won it in overtime. Brady’s bunch then beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game, 24-17, but the quarterback had to leave the game with a knee injury. Bledsoe finished things up, going 10-for-21 with a touchdown to seal the victory and send New England to the Super Bowl.

Brady was back in the starting lineup for Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams. Although he didn’t have the prettiest stat line, he did end up winning the Super Bowl MVP award with 145 passing yards and a touchdown. The Patriots won the game, 20-17, on a last-second field goal by Vinatieri.

All in all, it was a successful first full season for Brady. He finished with 18 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, 2,843 passing yards, an 86.5 passer rating, and his first Pro Bowl selection.

2002 and 2003

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots looks on as he prepares to win yet another playoff game.

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots looks on as he prepares to win yet another playoff game. | Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Brady had a fine season in 2002, by most standards, but in reality it ends up being one of the worst of his career. He posted a passer rating of 85.7 (the worst of his career to date) with 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He led the Patriots to a 9-7 record, which was a bit disappointing coming off the Super Bowl victory just a season prior. The team finished in a three-way tie for first place, but because of the tie-breaker scenarios, ended up missing the postseason.

2003 was pretty similar for Brady, but very different for the Pats as a whole. The team finished 14-2 on the season, going 14-1 down the stretch after an ugly, 31-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills in the opening week of the season. Brady once again had a season that was fine by most standards but really doesn’t represent what he’s become known for. He finished the year with 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions to go along with 3,620 passing yards and an 85.9 passer rating. After making the 2001 Pro Bowl team, Brady was not selected to the team in 2003, his second consecutive season of missing it.

But he was back playing in the playoffs, which is what matters. Brady was a bit shaky against the Tennessee Titans in the opening round, squeaking out a 17-14 victory on 21-for-41 passing (51.2%) with 201 yards and one touchdown. He wasn’t much better in the AFC Championship against Manning and the Colts, going 22-for-37 with a touchdown and an interception but earning the victory, 24-14. That sent the Patriots back to the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons.

This time, they met up with the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. The Patriots held the lead for most of the game, thanks to an excellent performance from Brady. He finished the game 32-for-48 (66.7%) with 354 passing yards and three touchdowns to one interception, good for a 100.5 passer rating. But the Panthers tied the game up at 29-29 with a late touchdown, leaving Brady just one minute to work with before the game would go into overtime.

It never got there. Brady went 5-for-6 for 67 yards on the final drive, setting up a 41-yard field goal with just seconds remaining on the clock. Vinatieri drilled it, and the Pats won again. Brady, of course, won his second Super Bowl MVP and had solidified his reputation for being one of the biggest clutch performers in the game.

“Who would you rather have running a two-minute drive than Tom Brady?” Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said. “I’ll take him 10 times out of 10 times.”

2004

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots starts the play during Super Bowl XXXIX against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots starts the play during Super Bowl XXXIX against the Philadelphia Eagles. | Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It was another banner year on the field for the Patriots, and Brady also had a decent year on the field. The team was 14-2 yet again, starting the season with seven consecutive wins after finishing the previous season with 11 consecutive — making it 18 straight regular season victories. Losses in Pittsburgh and Miami were the only blemishes on their regular season record that year.

Brady started all 16 games again, finishing with a passer rating of 92.6, 28 touchdowns to 14 interceptions, 3,692 passing yards, and a completion rate of 60.8%. He received Pro Bowl honors for the second time in his career, and the 27-year-old QB rolled into the playoffs with a little more swagger than before — after all, he was a two-time Super Bowl champion and MVP.

Brady didn’t have to put up much of a fight against Manning and the Colts in the opening game, winning an easy 20-3 contest. The Patriots QB was 18-for-27 (66.7%) passing with 144 yards and a touchdown in the game. In an AFC Championship rematch against the Steelers — who were at fault for breaking up New England’s 7-0 perfect season — Brady was precise, going 14-for-21 with 207 yards and two touchdowns, finishing with a 130.5 rating in a 41-27 beatdown of Ben Roethlisberger’s team.

That sent the Pats to the Super Bowl yet again to face the Philadelphia Eagles and their two stars, Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens. The two teams went into the fourth quarter tied, but a rushing touchdown by Corey Dillon and a Vinatieri field goal put the Pats up 24-14, and they’d end up winning the game 24-21. Brady didn’t get his third MVP award, but he did have an excellent game: 23-for-33 passing, 236 yards, and two touchdowns.

2005

Tom Brady plays against the Houston Texans.

Tom Brady plays against the Houston Texans. | Getty Images

Brady had another solid season, coming off his third Super Bowl win. In 2005, he started all 16 games and finished the year with 26 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, a career-high 4,110 passing yards, 63% completions, and a 92.3 passer rating. The Patriots had a rough start to the season, sitting at just 6-5 with five games remaining. But they’d finish out the season 5-1, with an overall record of 10-6 and their third consecutive AFC East Division title.

In the postseason, the Pats would go up against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the wild card round. The score remained close early on, with the Patriots clinging to a 7-3 lead at halftime. But New England took control in the second half, scoring three touchdowns and winning the game by a score of 28-3. Brady was good, going 15-for-27 passing with 201 yards and three touchdowns. That sent the Patriots into a matchup against Jake Plummer and the Denver Broncos.

And while Plummer wouldn’t have the best day against the Patriots, Brady struggled even worse. He threw two interceptions on the day with just one touchdown, going 15-for-26 passing with 197 yards. The Pats fell behind 24-6 heading into the final minutes, when Brady threw a meaningless four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver David Givens. The final score was 27-13, with the Patriots’ season coming to an end and Brady losing the first playoff game of his career.

But on the positive side, Brady’s 4,110 passing yards led the NFL and he made his third career appearance in the Pro Bowl.

2006

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots yells to his teammates.

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots yells to his teammates. | Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

While the Patriots had a better year on the field in 2006, Brady’s numbers declined just slightly. The team went 12-4, finishing tied for the third-best record in the AFC behind the Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers. And while Brady started all 16 games, he finished with just 3,529 passing yards, 24 touchdowns with 12 interceptions, and a passer rating of 87.9. He didn’t lead the NFL in any major categories, and this was the first year since 2003 that he wasn’t selected to play in the Pro Bowl.

The best game of the season for the Patriots quarterback came against the Green Bay Packers following back-to-back losses to the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets. Brady was a man on a mission in that game, throwing four touchdown passes on 20-for-31 passing with 244 yards and a passer rating of 128.4. New England won that game in a blowout, 35-0, and they got back on the winning track before heading down the stretch toward the playoffs.

In the wild card round against the 10-6 Jets, the Patriots breezed to a 37-16 victory. Brady was phenomenal, going 22-for-34 passing with 212 yards and two touchdown passes. The next week, the Pats had to travel to take on the San Diego Chargers and first-year starting quarterback Philip Rivers. The Chargers were 14-2 on the year, which was the best record in the NFL. With a LaDainian Tomlinson touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Chargers were up 21-13 and looking like they were headed to the AFC Championship game.

But Brady wouldn’t give in. He led the Patriots on a drive that ended in a game-tying, four-yard touchdown pass to Reche Caldwell with 4:36 left on the clock, and after getting the ball back he took the team back down the field once more for a 31-yard field goal from kicker Stephen Gostkowski. That gave the Pats a 24-21 lead and eventually a victory over the Chargers.

That sent New England back to the AFC Championship, this time to face off against Manning and the Colts. New England held a 28-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but this time it was Manning and not Brady to step up and be the hero. With the score sitting at 34-31 with the Patriots leading, Manning took the Colts on a drive that finished with a three-yard touchdown run by running back Joseph Addai.

With one minute on the clock, Brady was able to drive the Patriots down to the Colts 45 yard line, needing to score a touchdown to win the game. But his final pass of the game was picked off by Marlin Jackson, sealing the victory for the Colts.

“I said a little prayer there on that last drive,” Manning acknowledged.

The Colts would go on to beat the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl while the Patriots went home for the winter.

2007

Tom Brady on the sidelines at the Metlife Stadium.

Business as usual for Tom Brady. | Elsa/Getty Images

Following the loss to the Colts, Brady came out more determined than ever in 2007. The Patriots were the first team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to finish the regular season without a loss, going a perfect 16-0. They were number one in offense, scoring 36.8 points per game, and number four in overall team defense in allowing just 17.1 points per game — nearly an average of a 20-point victory per week.

Brady had his best season, and one of the best of all time. He put up an outstanding 117.4 passer rating, 68.9% completions, 4,806 passing yards, and 50 touchdown passes to just eight interceptions. The passer rating, completion percentage, passing yards, and touchdowns all were good enough to lead the NFL, and the 50 touchdowns was actually an NFL record at the time.

Rolling into the playoffs, the Patriots looked like an unstoppable force. The first test for New England was the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were 11-5 during the regular season. Although things were interesting early, with the two teams being tied at 14 at halftime, the Patriots pulled away thanks to two second half touchdown passes from Brady and won, 31-20.

In a rematch against the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship game, Brady and the Patriots pulled away late with a six-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker that put them up 21-12. And with that, the stage was set. The Patriots were still perfect and heading to the Super Bowl to face Eli Manning and the New York Giants.

New York had gone 10-6 in the regular season, and at times they didn’t even appear like they were going to actually make the playoffs. But they did, and they made it all the way to Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots took a 7-3 lead into halftime, and a six-yard touchdown pass from Brady to receiver Randy Moss put them ahead 14-10 with just under three minutes remaining in the game.

But Manning’s Giants pulled a stunner on the Patriots. Staring at a third-and-5 from mid-field with just 1:15 on the clock, the Pats looked to have had Manning sacked. But he escaped the defense, throwing one up into a group of four players, three of which were New England defenders. But wide receiver David Tyree caught and trapped the ball against his helmet, pulling it in for the catch as he went to the ground.

With 35 seconds left, Manning hit wide receiver Plaxico Burress for a 13-yard touchdown that gave New York the lead and the Super Bowl, 17-14. It was a disappointing end for the nearly-perfect Patriots, but it wasn’t a total loss for Brady. He was selected to the Pro Bowl and got his first First-Team All-Pro, as well as winning his first AP Offensive Player of the Year and NFL MVP awards.

2008 and 2009

Tom Brady stands up with the aid of the Patriots staff after tearing his ACL against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Tom Brady stands up with the aid of the Patriots staff after tearing his ACL against the Kansas City Chiefs. | Elsa Garrison/Getty Images

Following the amazing 2007 season that ended in disappointment for New England, there were high hopes for the 2008 team. Those hopes would be dashed quickly. In the first quarter of Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Brady was hit as he threw the ball and went down awkwardly. His knee bent in an unnatural way and he had to exit, just seven-and-a-half minutes into the game. An MRI would later confirm what the Patriots feared: Brady had torn his ACL and would be done for the year.

“He’s still upbeat,” said (Randy) Moss. “You would expect the guy to really be down. I think he was more down on Sunday. But just having a few conversations, a few text messages, he’s still positive. That’s what you can hope for in a guy like Tom.”

Brady was able to work his way back and into the starting lineup, ready to play the next season. Now 32 years old and with basically a year-and-a-half off, Brady wasn’t quite back to his ’07 form just yet. He had a solid season, finishing with 28 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 4,398 passing yards, and a passer rating of 96.2. Those numbers were good enough to lift the Patriots to a 10-6 record and win Brady the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.

“I think missing all of last season was a very challenging experience because I love to play the game,” Brady said during the season. “I love to play the sport, and to not have the opportunity to be out there with my teammates in a season where we had some great opportunities to repeat what we had done in the 2007 season … things happen.”

Things happened in their wild card round game against the Baltimore Ravens, and they weren’t good. The Patriots fell behind early, 24-0 at the end of the first quarter, and never recovered in a 33-14 loss. Brady was 23-for-42 passing with 154 yards, two touchdowns, and three costly interceptions—two of which came in the first quarter and led to 10 of Baltimore’s 24 points.

2010

Tom Brady continues to win NFL games | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

2010 was yet another great season for Brady and the Patriots. The quarterback had the best touchdown to interception ratio to this point in his career, throwing 36 TDs with just four getting picked off. Overall, he started all 16 games yet again and finished with 3,900 passing yards on the button, 65.9% on completions, and a 111 passer rating. The passer rating, along with the touchdowns, led the NFL.

His team also led the NFL in wins, going 14-2 in the regular season and finishing on an 8-0 run. That run included quality victories over the Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, and Green Bay Packers—all four teams that advanced to the conference championship games and both Super Bowl teams. The Patriots were looking like the favorite to win yet another Super Bowl.

But it wasn’t meant to be. New England ran up against the Jets, who had finished 11-5 on the season behind quarterback Mark Sanchez and head coach Rex Ryan. Brady threw two touchdowns with an interception and 299 passing yards in the game, but New England fell behind early and trailed, 14-3, at halftime. They mounted a late comeback, but it wasn’t enough to ever get within more than seven points of New York.

The Jets moved on, eventually getting to the AFC Championship Game before losing to the Steelers. It was a second straight embarrassingly quick end to the season for the Patriots and Brady, which didn’t sit well with anyone on or around the team after such a great run of success.

But the good news from 2010 for Brady was that he got a contract extension from the team, signing a four-year, $72 million deal in September to make him the highest-paid player in the NFL. He was also named the AP Offensive Player of the Year and the NFL MVP–his second such award.

2011

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots

Tom Brady celebrates a win | Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, the Patriots were very good yet again in 2011. They started out a somewhat pedestrian 5-3, with losses to the Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Giants. But Brady was a man on a mission yet again. In the season opener against the Miami Dolphin, he threw for a career-high 517 yards with four touchdowns. That would be a precursor to a career-best in passing yards.

The Pats went on another major run in the second half of the season, turning the 5-3 start into a 13-3 regular season record and the best record in the AFC. Brady finished the season having started all 16 games, completing 65.6% of his passes, garnering 5,235 passing yards, and throwing 39 touchdowns to 12 interceptions with a 105.6 passer rating. At the time, Brady was just the fourth quarterback to throw 5,000 or more yards in a single season.

There would be no early upset for New England in the playoffs this year, with the Patriots welcoming the surprise Denver Broncos and quarterback Tim Tebow to open their playoff run. Brady and the Pats easily dispatched of Tebow, 45-10, with the New England QB completing 76.4% of his passes with six touchdowns in the game.

That pushed the Patriots into the AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco, the Ravens quarterback, outdid Brady throughout the course of the game by throwing two touchdowns and finishing with a passer rating of 95.7. Brady threw zero touchdown passes and two interceptions, and the Patriots trailed by a score of 20-16 heading into the fourth quarter. But Brady led an early drive that culminated in him taking off for a one-yard touchdown run, and that ended up being the difference in the game.

So the Patriots were in another Super Bowl, this time facing off against a familiar foe: The New York Giants. Eli Manning’s team was just 9-7 in the regular season, and yet again the Pats were a heavy favorite. And yet again, they took a lead into the fourth quarter, up 17-15. But a touchdown run (and failed two-point conversion attempt) by the Giants with just 57 seconds remaining in the game put them ahead, 21-17, which would be the final score when Brady was unable to move the Patriots past mid-field.

2012

om Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Can anyone stop Tom Brady? | Elsa/Getty Images

The next year, Brady’s Patriots got off to a rough start. After a Week 1 victory over the Tennessee Titans, New England lost two games in a row and three of their next five to sit at just 3-3 heading into a Week 7 matchup against the New York Jets. The Patriots were up 23-13 heading into the fourth quarter of that game, but a Jets comeback sent the game to overtime and it looked like the Pats might fall to 3-4 on the season.

But the Patriots scored, pushed their record to 4-3, and then went on to finish the year 12-4. Brady did his usual thing: 16 games started, 63% completion rate, 4,827 passing yards, 34 touchdowns, eight interceptions, and a passer rating of 98.7. The 35-year-old was playing at the top of his game, leading the Pats into the playoffs against the Houston Texans.

In that matchup, Brady was outstanding. He finished the game with a 115 passer rating with three touchdowns and 344 passing yards, defeating Houston 41-28. That set up a rematch of the previous AFC Championship Game against Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens.

But Brady didn’t have his best game in this one. He threw two huge interceptions, both in the fourth quarter and one on the final drive of the game for New England. The Patriots took a 14-13 lead into the final period, but two touchdowns by Baltimore put the game away. The Pats were stunned yet again, being sent home early and without any championship rings yet again. Even still, the Patriots and Brady agreed to a three-year contract extension after the season to keep the franchise quarterback in New England.

2013

focus on Tom Brady's face at a game

Tom Brady sits on the bench and watches the action | Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Patriots repeated their excellent regular season performance again in 2013, finishing with a 12-4 record. Brady had a monster game in a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, going 23-for-33 passing with 434 yards and four touchdowns. The Pats won the game, 55-31. Brady finished the season with a slight dropoff in numbers, but still good enough to qualify as one of the best in the game. He had a completion percentage of 60.5 with 4,343 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a passer rating of 87.3—his lowest passer rating in 10 years.

Even still, Brady made his ninth Pro Bowl that year. Against the Indianapolis Colts and Andrew Luck in the playoff opener, the Patriots pulled away late for a big 43-22 victory. Brady wasn’t great in the game, completing just 13-of-25 passes with 198 yards and no touchdowns, but it was good enough to vault the Patriots into the AFC Championship Game against the Denver Broncos.

But again, Brady and the Patriots would see their season come to an end earlier than they’d like. New England went into the fourth quarter trailing, 23-3, and mounted somewhat of a comeback. But it wouldn’t be enough, as the Broncos and Peyton Manning would thoroughly dominate them, limiting Brady to just one touchdown pass in a 23-16 Denver win.

“It’s very gratifying to be part of this team,” Manning said. “We kept our nose to the grindstone, kept persevering. It feels good to get this win today.”

Once again, the Patriots went home early. Brady would end up winning no major awards at the end of the season, due to his personally mediocre performance.

2014

Tom Brady celebrates another Super Bowl victory | Elsa/Getty Images

Things would be good again in 2014, despite not getting off to the best start–the Patriots lost Week 1 to the Miami Dolphins, 33-20. After four weeks of the season, the team was 2-2 with another ugly loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and a squeaker of a victory over the Oakland Raiders. Fans in New England likely weren’t worried, with the season being a quarter of the way through and the history of second-half success in their back pocket, but it wasn’t pretty to watch.

Of course, Brady led the Pats to another outstanding record. 2-2 turned into 12-4, with the Patriots winning the AFC East and tying the Broncos for the best record in the conference. That earned them the bye in the first round of the playoffs.

Brady turned in good numbers compared to the season before, finishing with a 97.4 passer rating, 64.1% completions, 4,109 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He was selected to yet another Pro Bowl, as well.

And this time, he actually took his game to another level in the playoffs. After trailing for much of the game, Brady led the Patriots on a fourth-quarter comeback against the Baltimore Ravens that concluded with his 23-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon LaFell. That erased a three-point deficit and turned it into a four-point victory. His stat line in the game was a 99.3 passer rating with three touchdowns, one interception, and 367 passing yards.

Facing the Colts in the AFC Championship, Brady was outstanding yet again but it didn’t come without controversy. The Patriots won the game, 45-7, with Brady going 23-for-35 with three touchdowns and one interception. In what would commonly be referred to as Deflategate, Brady was cornered by the NFL with accusations of relieving some of the pressure in the footballs used in the game to make it easier to throw the ball in the cold weather.

The investigation would drag on and attempts to punish Brady would drag all the way through to the 2016 season, but the final report from the NFL was clear: They believed the Patriots had purposely deflated footballs.

Outside of the cloud hanging over the team, they continued playing as if everything was normal. New England matched up with the reigning champion Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, and it was looking like the Seahawks would be taking home their second consecutive trophy early in the fourth quarter. Seattle was up, 24-14, with just over eight minutes to play before Brady threw a four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola, making the score 24-21.

New England got the ball back, and Brady went 8-for-8 with 65 yards on the scoring drive with a touchdown pass to Julian Edelman that put the team up, 28-24. Seattle got the ball down to the one-yard line with under 30 seconds remaining, but quarterback Russell Wilson’s pass was picked off by cornerback Malcolm Butler to seal the game. Having lost their last two Super Bowl’s, Brady understood exactly how it would’ve felt had the Seahawks punched the ball into the endzone.

“We’ve had some great teams that haven’t won it and I think you’ve got to just enjoy the moment,” Brady said. “We’ve been on the other end of this twice now.”

For his performance in throwing four touchdowns with 328 yards and leading the comeback, Brady took home the Super Bowl MVP award.

2015

Tom Brady hangs his head in shame | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Because Tom Brady appealed the suspension handed down by commissioner Roger Goodell over the deflated footballs, he was yet again able to play all 16 games in 2015. The Patriots again won the AFC East, and generally stuck it to the NFL by starting the season 10-0 and looking like the favorite yet again to win the Super Bowl.

But things went downhill in the latter portion of the regular season, with New England going 2-4 to finish 12-4 overall. Brady led the NFL in touchdown passes with 36 and had an excellent season overall, with 4,770 passing yards, a completion percentage of 64.4, and a passer rating of 102.2. He also, yet again, made the Pro Bowl. Not too bad for a 38-year-old quarterback.

In their opening playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Patriots would never trail in winning 27-20. Brady was precise, going 28-for-42 passing with 302 yards and two touchdowns. That pushed New England into the AFC Championship Game, again facing off against Manning’s Denver Broncos.

Brady struggled against Denver in a 20-18 loss that wasn’t actually as close as the final score might indicate. He was just 27-for-56 passing, with 310 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions—including one early in the second quarter that turned into an easy Denver touchdown. While the Broncos would move on to win the Super Bowl in Manning’s final game of his career, the Patriots would go home and begin planning for another season.

2016

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime | Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Prior to the start of the 2016 season, the ruling on Brady’s suspension came down: It was being upheld, with the quarterback to be held out of the first four games of the season for New England. The team did fine, going 3-1 in those games. Brady made his return in Week 4 against the Cleveland Browns with a bang, going 28-for-40 passing with 406 yards and three touchdowns in a blowout.

In the end, the Pats finished the regular season with a 14-2 record. Brady started all 12 games that he was eligible for, with the 39-year-old completing 67.4% of his passes, throwing for 3,554 yards and 28 touchdowns to just two interceptions, and totaling a passer rating of 112.2—the second-highest rating of his career.

Going into the playoffs, Brady gave everyone a bit of a scare with a clunker in the opening game against the Houston Texans. He completed only 18-of-38 passes against Houston, throwing two touchdowns and two interceptions. Fortunately, the Patriots were able to escape with a 33-13 victory, but seeing Brady struggle so mightily was cause for concern. After all, he was 39 with a ton of mileage on his body.

But Brady was able to put those fears to rest with a convincing win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. He went an impressive 32-for-42 passing with 384 yards and three touchdowns, leading New England to a 36-17 victory. That set up yet another Super Bowl appearance, this time against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons.

Things didn’t go well for Brady and the Patriots early in Super Bowl LI, with Atlanta taking a commanding 28-3 lead early in the third quarter—including an interception that Brady threw that was returned by the Falcons defense for a touchdown. But starting late in the third quarter, Brady and the Patriots stormed back. Brady ended up 43-for-62 passing with a Super Bowl record 466 passing yards. He threw two touchdown passes, and New England finished the game off with two rushing touchdowns from James White—one to send the game to overtime, and one to finish the game with a 34-28 final score.

Brady was named the Super Bowl MVP yet again, his fourth such award, in what was certainly his most personally satisfying victory of his entire career.

“We all brought each other back,” said Brady of his team-mates after the game. “We never felt out of it. It was a tough battle. They have a great team, I give them a lot of credit. We just made a few more plays than them.”

Personal life, charity, and political affiliation

Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady at the Costume Institute Gala. | Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Brady dated and had a child, John Edward Thomas, with actress Bridget Moynahan. The relationship didn’t last, however, and Brady eventually married Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen in February of 2009. They’ve had a happy marriage, seeing the birth of two children, and only a few personal speedbumps reportedly around the time of the Deflategate issues.

“Tom under pressure wasn’t something Gisele liked being around and so she decided to give herself some distance. Says a friend, “Gisele took off several times with her sisters and friends to get away. There was the Paris trip in July for her birthday. It was a good break to have some space. It was much needed.”

Brady has also been fairly involved with charity during his career, including but not limited to Best Buddies International, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Entertainment Industry Foundation, and KaBOOM! Brady has at times been outspoken with his support of President Donald Trump, but since the 2016 election has chosen not to comment publicly on that topic.

This has created some confusion, given that Bundchen has definitively claimed that she does not support Trump and many of his policies.

Brady is under contract with the New England Patriots heading into 2017, being set to make $14 million at the age of 40. He’s also signed for 2018 and 2019, but the Patriots can release him after 2018 and suffer only $7 million of dead cap. As of now, Brady has announced no definitive plans about his retirement.

Statistics courtesy of ESPN and Pro-Football-Reference.

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