One of the most interesting “what ifs” in NFL history is, What if some other team had drafted Tom Brady before the Patriots finally took him late in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft? Former Giants General Manager Ernie Accorsi admits that team could have been the Giants, if only he had listened to one of his scouts.
Brady was so far off the Giants’ radar that when longtime scout Whitey Walsh, a longtime Giants scout, first went to Michigan to scout players, Brady wasn’t even on the list of players to look at. But Walsh took notice of Brady and loved him so much that he begged Accorsi to draft him. When the Giants drafted Brady’s Michigan teammate Dhani Jones with the 177th overall pick, Walsh was pounding the table in the draft room for Brady, who would ultimately go 199th to the Patriots.
“He didn’t just bring it up,” Accorsi told Ian O’Connor of ESPN. “He was very forceful. Fought hard. No one listened. . . . It’s my fault that I didn’t act on his urging to draft Brady. Truly, the Brady story is one of the great mysteries of all time. It’s not like he was playing at Augustana. He threw four touchdown passes in the Orange Bowl against Alabama. . . . We were all asleep.”
There have been other stories in which scouts, with 20/20 hindsight, have insisted they knew all along that Brady would be good. But this story is different: Accorsi has no incentive to embellish how much Walsh loved Brady, as the story is ultimately about how Accorsi made a huge mistake.
All 31 NFL teams (the Texans didn’t exist yet) made a huge mistake by passing on Brady — including the Patriots, who chose a guard named Jeff Marriott, who never played a down in the NFL, in the fifth round before taking Brady in the sixth. So the Giants aren’t much different from other teams. Except the Giants had one person in their draft room who knew they were making a mistake.