The Brady 6

The Brady 6

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

Key facts

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!

Start or Sit?

Start or Sit?

When Baker Mayfield was named the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, it was always going to be a question of when, not if, he would become the starting Quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. In Week 4 of the season, Mayfield made his first start after coming on in relief of the injured Tyrod Taylor the week before and leading the Browns to their first win since December 2016. After the hit-and-miss play of Taylor over the first 2 and a bit games, it’s highly likely that the Mayfield era has now begun in Cleveland. But is it right for a QB to become the starter (permanent, not just as injury cover) in their rookie year?

The NFL does have its stories of stars being picked early and quickly becoming stars in the league. Peyton Manning was an immediate starter for the Colts in 1998 and didn’t miss a start in the regular season until injury saw him miss the 2011 season, while his heir Andrew Luck was also starting from the very beginning.

But for every star like Manning and Luck, there are busts. Manning’s rival for the number 1 draft pick, Ryan Leaf is probably one of the most famous draft busts and was out of league by May 2002. One of Luck’s fellow 2012 first round picks, Brandon Weedon was a regular starter for only his first season and has predominantly been a journeyman backup since the 2013 season, having last played in the regular season in 2015.

As a Titans fan, the 2011 draft was one of the few I paid attention to as I knew the Titans would be going for a new QB with the number 8 pick. After everything I had read and heard, I remember hoping that Blaine Gabbert would be available at the spot. He was available, but the Titans chose to go for Jake Locker instead and Gabbert went to the Jags 2 weeks later. After 2 bad performances by Luke McCown, Gabbert was given his first start in Week 3, but he seriously struggled behind a questionable O-line and has only started 50% or more of his team’s games in 3/7 completed seasons for 3 different teams. He’s now made his way to Tennessee as a backup for Marcus Mariota.

Gabbert is a prime example of the issue for so many rookie QBs, being thrust to the fore without having the real chance to adapt from college football to the NFL. Most QBs coming out of college will not be used to a pro-style offense and instead be more used to hurry-up offenses or spread offenses. Suddenly as well they will be up against players 10 years their senior who know every trick in the book and many that aren’t. Let’s look at Baker’s first start, against the Raiders. He may have made some lovely plays and thrown for just under 300 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he also had a number of bad plays, being picked twice and losing 2 fumbles, the second of which came on a fumbled snap likely caused by his lack of experience under center (he never played there in college).

For me, the ideal situation for a team is to go down the route of 2 of the best QBs currently playing. Tom Brady was never meant to be a star judging by his 6th round pick, but after a season on the bench behind Drew Bledsoe, he took over the reins of the Patriot following Bledsoe’s injury in the 4th quarter of their Week 2 match during the 2001 season and has never looked back since. Perhaps a more comparable tale is that of Aaron Rodgers. Picked by the Green Bay Packers 24th overall in 2005 (behind Alex Smith), Rodgers only appeared in 7 matches over his first 3 seasons as he sat behind the legend that is Brett Favre. Rodgers was made starter for the 2008 season following Favre’s retirement (he later returned but was traded to the Jets) and he has since gone on to win a Super Bowl and be named NFL MVP twice, while being regarded as one of the greatest QBs of all time.

Sitting a QB for their rookie makes sense as they can get used to the environment and adapt to the way football is played in the NFL. The big problem is that the NFL is a business and if a team is not getting results, then the people in charge won’t be there long enough to sort things out. Too often a team is taking a QB in the first round because they need someone who they feel is good enough to start and win immediately. A rookie QB may be able to do enough in the first season or two to keep a coach in their job while they build a team around their star.

But if a coach was brave enough to let that young lad sit for the first year, would the lack of results in year 1 be outweighed by the benefits down the line? I think so. A good QB is a comfortable QB and one year on the bench is surely worth it for potentially developing the franchise QB of the next 10 years. Now teams just need to start thinking a couple of years ahead and picking up a promising rookie while they still have a reliable veteran there to learn from.

How will Baker, Sam Darnold and the other rookie QBs work out down the line? Only time will tell…