Welcome to Sport on the Silver Screen. In this series, I will be looking back over sports movies and series that I have recently watched/re-watched and giving my thoughts on them. Getting into the Schmoedown and starting to follow a number of the personalities from the show has given me a much greater appreciation of movies and seen me starting to watch more, while a resolution for 2022 has also seen me making a resolution to watch more series.
Being a fan of both movies and sports, I have taken the chance to start highlighting the sheer volume of sports movies out there, while also now throwing in the occasional series. In each article I will be giving some details about the movie/series and then a quick review, including a section giving a sports fan’s perspective of the action’s realism.
This series has been heavily influenced by Ben Bateman and Andrew Ghai of Action Industries, but I will not be looking at the traditional “Fist-pump moment” and “Favourite line” sections due to just how much more content a series provides compared to a movie, instead talking about the prospects for the future of the show. Be aware, there will be spoilers, but I will try to keep them to a minimum.
Today, I will be looking at an episode in the ESPN documentary series Year of the Quarterback called The Brady 6
Released in 2011
Distribution (UK) Not currently streaming anywhere but can be found in full on YouTube, on the NFL Films channel
Starring Tom Brady
Synopsis A documentary looking back at the 2000 NFL Draft and the careers of the 6 Quarterbacks who were picked ahead of Tom Brady
I really enjoy documentaries about Tom Brady. As someone who has paid some form of attention to the NFL since the mid-noughties and has closely followed the league since the 2009 season, he has been a constant in the league. The undeniable GOAT, Brady’s achievements are incredible and deserve respect, but are made into an even better story when you remember that he was a sixth-round draft pick!
That is what this episode focuses on, looking at the draft itself and why Brady dropped as low as pick #199 (he and his family were expecting him to go in the 2ⁿᵈ or 3ʳᵈ round) and looking at the careers of the 6 Quarterbacks who were picked ahead of him (spoilers: none will be considered in contention for GOAT status, some never even started a regular season game!). But really it could be called the Brady 7, as by looking at why Brady dropped down draft boards we see that a big part of it was the way that despite being the better QB, his senior year in Michigan saw him splitting time with Drew Henson—the one most people would have expected to go on to greatness at the time—and so he gets the same recognition and comparison as the Brady 6.
To put in perspective where we were at this point: Brady had just been named League MVP for the second time. He had led the Patriots to 4 Super Bowls, winning 3 and being named Super Bowl MVP in 2 of them. He also held the record for the most passing touchdowns in a season (50 in 2007), which has to date only been beaten once (Peyton Manning threw 55 in 2013) and matched once (Patrick Mahomes, 2018). If his career ended there, he was already probably a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Similar to Man in the Arena, we get input from Brady and a number of other people involved: the 7 QBs the show focuses on, Tom’s father, Bill Belichick, a number of coaches who drafted members of the Brady 6, draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr, a couple of the Michigan football staff, Aaron Shea (NFL Tight End and Brady’s teammate at Michigan) and more!
What this show manages in less than 50 minutes is to show just how easy it is for a player to be overlooked. Brady’s measurables were nothing special and the way that the coaches were splitting his time with Henson just added doubt in everybody’s mind. And in so doing it shows how Brady developed the chip on his shoulder and motivation that would take him to become the GOAT. Meanwhile it showed how big the jump can be from college to the NFL, or how injuries or a lack of quality around a QB can ruin a promising career by looking at the careers of the Brady 6.
Having just watched Man in the Arena, this actually worked as a great accompanying documentary, as its focus is more on Michigan and the Draft, while just touching on some moments from the first half of his career. And it’s a great reminder of just how special Brady’s success is from Pick #199 when you compare to the players picked ahead of him at his position, and also the other Patriots picked ahead of him that year—2 of whom never even made the main roster!
What did you think of The Brady 6? Let me know in the comments. Until next time!