Remembering Tom Brady- A Story You Haven’t Heard

How most people remember Tony Brady's time at Michigan.
How most people remember Tom Brady’s time at Michigan.

To many Tom Brady was merely a stopgap falling in the shadow of Brian Griese (who led Michigan to a National Championship) and Drew Henson who was destined to lead the Wolverines to 3 or 4 National Championships, while leading the Yankees to World Championships during the football off-season.

No disrespect to Drew Henson but the hype surrounding him was completely out of control. The spotlight on Henson obscured Brady and many fans couldn’t wait for him to make way for Henson.

While Brady was technically the starter, Lloyd Carr employed the dreaded dual QB system giving Henson ample to time to challenge. At the time it seemed like a concession to keep Henson from bolting and playing baseball full time.

But Brady held on as the starter for two seasons and capped his career with an OT win over Alabama in the 2000 Orange Bowl.

During his time at Michigan no one could have predicted the success he’d have in the NFL.

I always thought that Brady would be successful at something– he had that air about him. A quiet determination and confidence. No matter how obnoxious fans would be, “Hey Tom, how long until Drew takes your job?” he stayed calm, cool, and collected.

Only later did we learn how close he came to transferring.

Brady liked this photo because it included his teammates

But there was one indication of his character. I took this picture during the 1998 season and was determined to get all three players who were featured prominently to autograph it.  At 1999 Media Day fans had an opportunity to meet the players and I quickly tracked down center Steve Frazier (#64) tight end end Aaron Shea (#36) but couldn’t find Brady anywhere.

I went from line to line looking for him. Finally, I tracked him standing practically alone near the sideline. When I showed him the photo his first reaction was to ask how I took it (from my seats) and how cool it was that it showed all three players together in the same shot. I found out later that Aaron Shea was one of his best friends in college which helps explain why he liked the photo so much.

He signed the photo and said, “Go Blue!” and thanked me for taking the picture.

It always struck how classy he was. At the time there was a huge line of people waiting for Drew Henson’s autograph while Brady, the starter, stood by watching.

A lesser man may have been resentful, but Brady was a Michigan Man.

I wondered how he felt when he found himself drafted by the Patriots and was again overshadowed by  another quarterback phenom named Drew (Bledsoe).

I have no doubt that he handled himself with the same class he showed at Michigan.

And his hard work and dedication have made him one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

2009 M Football- Lloyd Carr gets Rick rolled

Lloyd Carr retired two seasons ago but his shadow still looms large over the Michigan football program.

Just ask former Wolverine QB Rick Leach, who this week blasted the former coach on local sports radio.

Leach, who has been a vocal supporter of Carr’s successor Rich Rodriguez, accused Carr of high treason for attending the Michigan/Iowa game and having “…the audacity, the unmitigated gall…” to not sit with the Michigan contingent.

It’s an ironic turn of events for two men who are both so closely identified with Michigan football.  Leach for his outstanding college career and Carr for leading the Wolverines to the 1997 National Championship.

Leach, who is revered by many Wolverine fans, seems to represent a vocal minority of Wolverines fans who were critical of Coach Carr and pushed for his departure.  What’s puzzling is why nearly two years after Carr’s retirement that the attacks continue.

My impression is that Leach wasn’t exactly one of the Lloyd’s favorite people.  When Rodriguez become coach Leach got a new lease on life as a program insider.  Since then Leach has been front and center in defending Rodriguez while continuing to take shots at Carr.

But Leach’s campaign against Carr will do nothing to stop the Detroit Free Press’ inquisition of current Coach Rich Rodriguez.

His radio tirade only exposes a fissure between two legends of the Michigan football program.

In times like this I wonder what Bo what would say about the situation.

My guess is he’d chide Lloyd for his choice of seating at the Iowa/Michigan football game.

But it wouldn’t anything compared to the ass chewing that he’d give Leach.

Go Blue!

2008 Michigan Football- The Undiscovered Country

 

Every offseason I spend time watching and re-watching games from the past Michigan football season.

 

While preparing for the Capital One Bowl, the realization hit me that none of what I was watching has any bearing on the future of Michigan football.

 

Every coach except for one is gone next season.

 

On offense, it should come as no surprise that receivers Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington have departed for the NFL.  QB Chad Henne, RB Mike Hart, and OL Jake Long have exhausted their eligibility.  QB heir apparent Ryan Mallett, who filled in this season when Henne was injured, has decided to transfer rather than try and fit his skills into the spread offense.

 

It is completely possible that along with a new offensive philosophy we may see different starters at every position the next time a Wolverine QB snaps the ball.

 

And while I’m excited about the potential of the spread offense,  Michigan fans are facing the great unknown.

 

Even Michigan Stadium will be vastly different as the largest renovation in its history has begun.

 

Ground has been broken on the new indoor practice facility and football weight room has been cleared out in preparation for new equipment.

 

Forget everything you’ve come to know about Michigan football.

 

Between the coaching change and facility upgrades we are oberving on the greatest periods of change in the history of Michigan football.

 

Are you ready?

2007 Michigan Football- Henne and Hart- Invincible?

 

Recently I watched the movie Invicible, which tells the true story of a Vince Papale, a 30 year old bartender who becomes an NFL player after being discovered at an open tryout.  In the movie, Papale freezes and blows a play during his first NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys.  As he leaves the field the head coach screams at him, “I stuck my neck out for you!”

 

The message was clear- it didn’t matter that Papale was a folk hero to the team’s fans, or that the coach personally liked him- if he couldn’t do his job and help the team win he wouldn’t play.

 

I thought about this scene in the movie as I watched QB Chad Henne and RB Mike Hart struggle against Ohio State Saturday.

 

 

It would have been a great story to have them return from injury and lead the Wolverines to victory over the Buckeyes.  It would have awesome to have Lloyd’s loyalty to his seniors validated with a victory in his final game at Michigan Stadium.

 

 

But it didn’t turn out that way.

 

The Michigan mantra is supposed to be “The Team, The Team, The Team” but on Saturday I’m not sure if the best interests of the team were served.

Lloyd Carr- Michigan Man

I remember how unenthused I was when Lloyd Carr was named interim head coach of the Michigan Wolverines.

 

It had been a tough week.  Bo’s handpicked successor, Gary Moeller, had been involved in an embarrassing off-the-field incident.  Mo had gotten drunk, got into a verbal altercation with the police (which was taped and played on the local TV news) and resigned in shame.

 

Barring the complete meltdown of Gary Moeller, being Michigan’s Head Football Coach probably would not have been in Lloyd’s future.  I had met Lloyd Carr a few times and my impression was that he was the nice guy on the staff compared to Bo and Mo’s tough guy personas.  I didn’t have high hopes for Michigan football under his leadership.

 

During Lloyd’s first game as head coach the Wolverines were getting embarrassed by Virginia at the Big House.  With 13 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter, the Wolverines were losing 17-0.  Hardly a great start for the interim head coach.

 

 

But then something amazing happened.  The Wolverines got off that mat, fought back and won on the last play of the game when QB Scott Dreisbach found WR Mercury Hayes in the corner of the end zone.  The Wolverines ended up 9-4 and Lloyd was named permanent head coach.

 

I still didn’t have a lot of faith in Lloyd.

 

And yet, two seasons later in was at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena watching the Wolverines clinch their first National Championship in 50 years.  He did something that Bo never was able to do.  He won it all.

 

And still there were critics.  Going undefeated wasn’t good enough.  And Lloyd didn’t care.

 

Over the years I have to come to have great respect for Coach Carr.

 

Gary Moeller had been destroyed by the pressure of succeeding Bo Schembechler while Lloyd embraced the pressure and eventually thrived.

 

All Lloyd needed his team, a field and an opponent.  Everything else was superfluous.

 

 

There’s no doubt that Lloyd had little interest in pandering to the press.  Lloyd treated them all same- taking a page from Bo’s playbook- like dogs.  He understood that they really didn’t matter.  Michigan didn’t need people in the press to drum up interest for the Wolverines.

 

It has been amazing to see the transformation of Lloyd Carr from the all around nice guy to someone who outsiders consider to be grouchy and mean.  To anyone who has had a chance to observe Lloyd interacting with his players or recruits this misperception is hilarious.  Whenever I saw Lloyd being gruff with a reporter I always imagined he was doing his best Bo imitation.  But it wasn’t him.

 

 

Lloyd was coach who honestly cared about his football players as people.  Someone who considered himself foremost a teacher.  He was fiercely loyal to his players and coaches no matter what the public thought.  He could also be brutally tough on players who he believed didn’t have the team’s best interests in mind.

 

The following is one of Lloyd’s favorite quotes:

 

I am wounded but not slain
I will lay me down and bleed a while
And then rise up to fight again.

 

I think of this quote whenever the Wolverines would rally back from a deficit.

 

Lloyd Carr coached teams were never defeated.

 

They simply ran out of time before being able to mount a comeback.