Transferring wasn’t quite as easy or popular 25 years ago as it is in today’s world of college athletics, but that doesn’t mean the thought didn’t cross Tom Brady’s mind. The former Michigan quarterback had his doubts about whether staying in Ann Arbor was the best thing for his football career in the mid-1990s.
After a few seasons at Michigan, Brady thought about transferring back to his home state. The school he was considering? Cal.
In an interview with Howard Stern recently, Brady discussed why he nearly decided to transfer from Michigan and head back to his home state. His position on the depth chart with the Wolverines had an awful lot to do with it.
“My second year…and the guy who was playing, he was very much their guys. He had a great start to his career and I was looking up at all of these guys on the depth chart who were ahead of me and I thought ‘I’m never going to get a chance here,'” Brady said in the interview. “So I remember talking to the people at Cal because that was my second choice to go to Berkeley. I was thinking maybe I should go there because I’d get more of an opportunity to play there. I went and I talked to Lloyd Carr, who was the head coach, and said ‘I don’t think I’m going to get my chance here.’ He said ‘Tom, I want you to stay and I believe in you. You can be a good player but you have to start worrying about the things you can control.’
“In a team sport, you have to sacrifice what you want individually for what’s best for the team. It’s a disservice to the team if you’re somehow forced to play. If I’m going to be the best, I have to beat the best. If the best competition is at Michigan, then I’ve got to beat those guys out if I’m going to play. I just committed to being the best.”
Brady earned the starting job in 1998 and was “the guy” under center at Michigan for two years. He was 20-5 as the starter for the Wolverines, and threw for 4,644 yards and 30 touchdowns while completing over 61 percent of his passes in those two seasons.
Despite being selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, Brady has now become the greatest quarterback in NFL history, winning six Super Bowl titles during a 20-year career in the league.
How different might his career have been if he did decide to leave Michigan? It’s a great “what if” question to ponder.