Tom Brady at the Combine

Tom Brady wasn’t born this way.

We like to think that athletes are people too. That, as the cliché goes, they bleed and get their hearts broken just like us. This week, Brady reminded us just how accurate that cliché is.

Before he had the perfect life with all the fame and all the Super Bowl titles, Brady was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. 

The NFL released the highlights video of Brady’s stellar Combine showing, the one that allowed him to go from being a part-time senior starter with the Michigan Wolverines… to the 199th pick in the 2000 draft. As you’ll see for yourself, calling these “highlights” might be putting it kindly.

The video lasts 81 seconds and I certainly can find seven things that I love about it. (But no more than seven.)

1) That striking pre-snap pose. The people who uploaded this video certainly knew what they were doing, because the video isn’t even started and the greatness is here. The picture, of Brady mimicking a snap and readying to get the snap from a non-present center, is perfect and all you want to do is click “Play.” Which you do.

2) That hair. You want to make fun of that Tom Brady bowl-like haircut, because it would be so easy to do it. But you can’t. You can’t because just when you’re about to say something witty/silly/dumb, you remember what your hair looked like when you graduated from college, or in the year 2000. That’s when you realize that Brady’s hair really isn’t too bad.

3) Those khaki jeans. Let the record show that before the NFL had the Jim Harbaugh khaki pants, it had the Tom Brady khaki shorts. (It makes sense that both would be Michigan men.) I almost feel like Brady’s career cheated us out of something perhaps even more special—think of the possibilities of what we might have seen him do with those shorts in a non-football environment. Are those Super Bowls worth it???

4) That throwing hand. Except that in this close-up at the 0:10 mark, the throwing hand is not throwing. It is simply holding a football, proving that it is perfectly capable of doing the one task it will be asked to do more than any other in the NFL. Good job, hand.

5) That non-smile. The close-up of that throwing hand also leads to a close-up of Brady’s serious face—or, as I like to call it, his non-smile. Funny how his current smile can look so different when the person doing the smiling doesn’t have the hundreds of millions of dollars, right? Back in 2000, that million-dollar smile looked utterly broke. Somehow, that smile seduced and married Gisele Bundchen.

6) That… is it a false start? The Combine is a showcase of the physical prowess of football players who may one day perform move X or Y in actual, live, in-game action. But I’ll dare say that Tom Brady has never showcased in an NFL game the kind of agility he is asked to showcase at the 1:02 mark. Yet, he soldiers on, because Tom Brady backs down from nothing and no one.

7) That music. The perfect soundtrack to a perfect video.

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And yet, Brady wears the No. 1 practice jersey through it all. Because the NFL Combine powers that be knew it—even at his dorky best, Tommy Boy was already No. 1 in our hearts.

Please understand that I am a very big New England Patriots fan, that the Super Bowl XLVIX was my favourite ever and that Tom Brady will forever be my quarterback. Even more so now that I know about those highlights.