One of the many, many sweet perks of a dynasty is that there’s always a plentiful supply of both history and hagiography about everyone from the players to the coaches to the actual games, and often that line in the sand between history and hero worship gets gleefully jumped over to use that sand to build a rad sand castle. Meaning, like, a lot of the biographers and team historians are really, really good at staying mostly objective, but, I mean, we’re also talking about a team here where they have fans going to college now that have never seen a losing season in their lives. There’s gonna be some “here’s another firsthand account on why the Patriots have been so awesome at football” moments in there somewhere.
And another related perk to that collection of Patriots books, documentaries, longform pieces, and enough episodes of America’s Game and A Football Life to fill a whole day (if one were so inclined) is that we frequently get to dismantle some of the common bar-argument myths and takes that we’ve all heard from everyone from your friends to that dork at work.
“Bill just gets lucky in the draft”
“Brady can only throw deep to Moss and Gronk”
“They could be 0-9 in Super Bowls with just a few plays”
“Belichick’s defense carries them every time”
“The kicker always bails them out in Super Bowls”
And so on, and so on, and so on.
I say all that because today, we get to take a flamethrower to an all-time Patriots myth that seems like one of those things that’s just accepted as fact anywhere south of Danbury, CT. You’ve definitely heard this one:
“Belichick just got lucky taking Tom Brady, he had no idea Brady would be any good”
According to an excerpt from The Dynasty, a new book on, you guessed it, the Patriots dynasty, by author Jeff Benedict that just dropped this week, that’s not how it actually went down. Far from it. In fact, Bill was absolutely baffled that nobody was taking Tom Brady, round after round, and eventually pulled the trigger after days of wondering why on earth he was still on the board.
From Tom Curran’s Friday article on NBCSN last week:
On an April weekend 20 years ago, every team in the NFL repeatedly walked right past the equivalent of a billion-dollar lottery ticket left on the sidewalk.
Over and over for the better part of two days, Tom Brady just lay there. Either teams thought he wasn’t good enough or they had quarterback plans in place that didn’t include a subpar physical specimen with an average arm and a bunch of great “intangibles.”
Three times, according to the soon-to-be-released book “The Dynasty” written by Jeff Benedict, Bill Belichick wondered aloud why nobody was drafting him.
“Brady’s still on the board. Why is he still there?” asked Belichick after the Saints took Marc Bulger at 168.
After the Patriots used the 187th pick on Antwan Harris, Belichick said again, “Brady’s too much value. Why’s he still there?”
Finally, at 199, the Patriots said, “Enough.” And this franchise that didn’t really need a quarterback because it also had other plans took a quarterback anyway.
Things went really well for a couple decades.
Couple that with the Patriots alums that say New England’s draft board is famously one of the smallest boards in football, and then add Bill’s obsession with improving every position from quarterback to punter with competition, and there you go. Obviously, Bill probably didn’t see a future GOAT in Tom, cause nobody did (sorry Bill Polian), but to say that Bill picking Brady at pick 199 was the equivalent of letting autodraft do it’s thing in your fantasy draft is pretty clearly the opposite of real life.
Instead, Bill had done enough homework on Tom Brady - who, need I remind everyone, had to play in a quarterback platoon with Drew Henson in his final season at Michigan - to know that he was NFL-caliber talent and was looking at the draft board round after round like “....are you serious right now? He’s still there? How?? Eh, we’ll take him even though we’re set with a number 1 overall pick in Drew Bledsoe. Can’t pass that value up.”
Feel free to use this information as you see fit when we can actually go to bars again and the haters come at you with silly takes like “Bill just gets lucky”.