Tom Brady Combine Photo Explained: A Look Back at One of the Most Infamous Pictures in the NFL

Tom Brady’s career got off to a rocky start with his poor performance at the NFL Scouting Combine and a particularly unflattering photo from the event.

Tom Brady had 30 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 23 games as a junior and senior at Michigan. The Wolverines won 20 of 25 games during his final two college seasons. Performing well and winning at a major college is usually enough to get NFL teams interested in drafting a player.

Brady had a chance to increase interest from NFL teams at the Scouting Combine.

Tom Brady’s Trip to the Combine

Brady’s picture at the combine is always brought up around this time of year as NFL hopefuls work out for teams ahead of the draft. In the photo, he is wearing gray shorts without a shirt and standing next to a dry-erase board with his name and NFL Combine ID numbers.

Brady’s underwhelming NFL Combine photo is probably not the most underwhelming performance during his time at the event. His 40-yard dash time was 5.28 seconds, which is one of the slowest for a quarterback this century.

Brady also posted unimpressive numbers with a 24.5″ vertical leap and an 8′ 1/4″ broad jump.

Brady told Dan Patrick in 2020, “A lot of time in the last 23 years to get in a little bit better shape. I was a college kid. I was coming out of college. Oh my God, that probably wasn’t my finest moment, but I always joke about that picture, like no one else has a picture like that. Where’s Peyton Manning’s picture? He didn’t look great in those gray shorts either, so, but somehow never see a picture of that.”

Patrick asked Brady what he would pay to have the NFL Combine picture removed from civilization. “I wouldn’t pay anything. It serves as a great reminder from where I come from. At this point, I’m pretty cool with it.”

Brady Had Another Option

Even though he didn’t look like a great athlete in his NFL Combine photo, Brady was a star left-handed hitting catcher out of Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif. The Montreal Expos selected Brady with the final pick of the 18th round of the 1995. He had already committed to play football at the University of Michigan. MLB teams knew that a football scholarship with the Wolverines would reduce their chances of signing Brady.

Expos scout John Hughes told the Hartford Courant in 1999 that, “He was drafted in the 18th round because everyone knew how difficult it would be to sign him. He was very talented. I mean, on talent alone, he would have been projected a late second-round pick.”

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Hughes said he believed, as a catcher, Brady would have made it to the major leagues. He was impressed with Brady’s personal makeup, and that made him stand out.

Five years later, the New England Patriots selected Brady with the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.

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