Now playing in his sixth Super Bowl, Tom Brady needed a giant stroke of luck just to make it into the New England Patriots' starting lineup.
After an injury to Drew Bledsoe in the second game of the 2001 season, Brady took over as the starter for the Patriots and never looked back. We did some digging in the Sports Illustrated Vault to see what those around Brady had to say about the quarterback in November 2001, before any Super Bowl victories - and before Brady turned into the ruthless, UGGs-wearing, touchdown-throwing mercenary he is today.
David Patten, Patriots wide receiver, on Brady during minicamp:
"Tom carried himself like this was his team. I thought, If he's this confident as a backup, I can only imagine how he'd be running the show."
J.R. Redmond, Patriots running back, on Brady in the huddle:
"Some guys just say the play. He makes you think we're about to do something big."
John Mobley, Denver Broncos linebacker, on playing against Brady:
"Every time he got to the line against us, he was looking over the defense and calling audibles. He was very much in command."
Charlie Weis, Patriots offensive coordinator, on Brady responding to a poor performance with a win:
"Inexperienced quarterbacks need to show they can deal with the highs and lows of this league. The jury is still out until you face adversity, and Tom proved he can deal with it."
Drew Bledsoe, Patriots quarterback, on Brady's growth in his second season:
"He's been asking questions in meetings you normally wouldn't attribute to a second-year guy. Instead of wondering who his second receiver on a play was, he wanted to know about reading the defense or where to put the ball when he saw a specific coverage."
Brady, on if he should remain the starter:
"I'm still only a second-year player. People can talk about a quarterback controversy, but one thing I learned in college is that the coach decides who plays, and when he says to go in there, you play your butt off. That's all I've been trying to do."
Read the full story by Jeffri Chadiha here.