The New York Giants possess the only quarterback to ever beat Tom Brady in the Super Bowl: Eli Manning, who managed to pull off the feat in both of his meetings with the England Patriots for the NFL title.
But four years before New York landed the Giants’ giant slayer, they almost had Tom Terrific to themselves.
If only Ernie Accorsi, the team’s general manager from 1998 to 2007, had listened to scout Whitey Walsh.
When the Giants’ sixth-round pick, No. 177 overall, came up in the 2000 NFL Draft, Walsh went mad trying to convince the powers that be in the draft room that Brady was the guy.
“He didn’t just bring it up,” Accorsi said of Walsh, according to 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.”
Except for Walsh.
When he went to Ann Arbor to scout Michigan’s crop of players ahead of the draft, he studied Brady even though the quarterback wasn’t on the list of players he was assigned to look at—and even though Brady was so skinny he looked “emaciated.”
“But I always thought you should look at any senior who is starting; maybe they have something,” Walsh said. “You watch four, five, six plays, and if they don’t show anything you leave them off the list. I watched Brady, and he was actually pretty good. He was very careful with his passes, very accurate, no interceptions. I wondered if his arm would be strong enough. If you saw him—and he was listed that day at 6-foot-5, 195 pounds—he didn’t look good. He looked kind of emaciated, with no muscle definition.”
Instead, the Giants selected Dhani Jones in the sixth round—still great value, considering the linebacker had a 10-year career almost exclusively as a starter. Just not the Hall of Fame value the Patriots got 22 picks later.
If only the Giants had listened to Walsh.
“I put him on the list, and figured, it can’t hurt,” Walsh said of a second visit to Ann Arbor. “Let’s give him a grade and at least we can talk about him. Turns out nobody else [with the Giants] had his name down. I gave Brady a middle-to-late-round grade, and when I was in the draft room I guess I got drowned out. Whoever heard of Tom Brady?”