Skip to main content

Sean Payton Says He Tried Convincing Giants to Draft Tom Brady in 2000

After more than two decades spent coaching in the NFL, Sean Payton has a trophy case that’s plenty full. But like any football lifer, the successes come with missteps and missed opportunities.

Speaking as a guest on the Green Light podcast with Chris Long on Friday (April 8), Payton recalled perhaps his biggest NFL draft-related regret, when, as an assistant for the Giants, he tried (and failed) to convince his team to draft a relatively low-profile quarterback from Michigan: Tom Brady.

As Payton recalls, he and Brady shared the same agent, Don Yee, who called up Payton and asked if he could talk with Brady to help him out in advance of the NFL combine. Payton did, and came away impressed with the former Wolverine to the point that he thought he should be drafted in the third or fourth round.

When the New York brass met to go over prospects, Payton quickly figured out that his opinion was on the more bullish side. The rest of the room had largely evaluated Brady with a seventh-round or undrafted grade, and he knew that he was unlikely to persuade others to reconsider their views.

“Everyone’s seen Tom run the 40 at the combine. You get the body weigh-in pictures and all of that,” Payton said. “You have a guy who’s not fully developed yet, who’s pretty much a one-year starter. You can pretty much tell he’s gonna need the weight room. But (Michigan coach) Lloyd Carr said he’s the toughest player he’s ever coached, and that meant something.”

Scroll to Continue

SI Recommends

Payton said that he had one person on his side: veteran scout Raymond “Whitey” Walsh Jr., who he knew wouldn’t be enough to convince the powers that be that Brady deserved mid-round consideration.

“I kind of went through the report, and I’m feeling pretty good about it … When I finished, Whitey said, ‘I couldn’t agree with Coach more, I had the same grade,’” Payton said. “And right at that time I thought, ‘Ah, frick, I’m teaming up with Whitey here to fight this battle.”

Brady ended up being drafted in the sixth round with the 199th pick by the Patriots, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“He’s by far the best sixth-round pick in the history of our league,” Payton said.

More NFL Coverage: