In September 2001, Patriots starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was hit by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis in the fourth quarter. Bledsoe suffered a concussion, and the Patriots lost 10-3, committing four turnovers in their home-opener.
But a funny thing happened that day: Tom Brady came off the bench for New England.
He never went back.
“Man, he was cool as a fan,” former Patriot All-Pro Troy Brown said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “He didn’t really show any signs of nerves or anything else. The only thing that really changed with us is we got a little more conservative. Get that ball out of his hand quick – kind of like the way he’s playing now. A lot of little screen passes, give the ball to guys and let them do their thing with it. Nothing exotic with the game plan, but he was cool as a cucumber, man. He didn’t show any signs of nerves at all. We kind of had that feeling about him, that he would be okay in situations – and really, he was. He didn’t show any signs of nerves at all.”
Brown, who was in the huddle that day, had no idea he would go on to win three Super Bowls with Brady, but he’s sure happy he did.
Brown, 44, was asked to divulge some dirt on Brady but really couldn’t think of anything.
“As far as dirt, he doesn’t have a lot of dirt man,” Brown said. “He just kind of likes to hang out with the guys. He’s not really a leader in that situation. He just kind of hangs out and wants to be part of the guys and enjoy the time there. That’s about as far as I can go with the dirt.”
If you want more Brady insights from Brown, you should probably check out his new book, “Patriot Pride: My Life in the New England Dynasty.”
Brown, of course, accomplished a great deal with the Patriots but was not offered a new contract after the 2007 season. He retired in September 2008.
The Patriots might be the best organization in sports, but they have a tendency to get rid of guys just before they get over the hill. How does that not hurt player loyalty in the locker room?
“I think guys understand now – and I remember talking to (Vince) Wilfork about this even before I left the team,” Brown said. “Just look at the way Drew Bledsoe conducted himself when it was happening to him. It was probably one of the classiest things you ever see from an athlete at that particular time when Bledsoe was losing his job to Tom Brady. I mean, that was an unwritten rule that you couldn’t lose your job if you were hurt – and it happened to Drew Bledsoe, the team’s franchise player. And I remember him going through that, he was so classy about it. He never ruffled any feathers within the locker room. He may have had his words with Bill behind closed doors, but he never let it spill over into the locker room or let it affect the rest of the players. I remember that and telling Vince, ‘Theres going to come a time when you have a decision to make. Do I want to stay in New England, or do I want to chase the money?’
“Because if you play long enough or you play too long, you’re going to get cut by somebody,” Brown continued. “Don’t take it personal when it happens. I think guys really understand that. They realize it’s a pretty special place to play. It’s not easy to come and play for Bill Belichick and this team, but it’s a pretty special place to play because they put so much on the player and put so much responsibility on him. I get a lot of feedback from guys when they go other places and come back here, like, ‘There’s no other place like New England and the way they do things and the detail they go into to get ready for a game.’ So I think guys understand that stuff before they leave here. And when they do leave, they have a different type of appreciation for what they had in New England and the way they did things here when they go elsewhere.”