What If Tom Brady Had Come to Cal?

Posted by: Avinash on Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

NOTRE DAME @ MICHIGAN FOOTBALLYeah, sounds like a far-fetched premise off the top. So when I figured out how close Brady had actually come to being a Golden Bear I pretty much echoed Marshawn: “WHAT?!” (well, except the two of us were talking about different things and everything, but close enough).

Nevertheless, the premise presented by this author is laughable.

It may be Cal football’s greatest loss ever: the 1995 recruiting battle for Tom Brady. He went to Michigan. Cal went into depression.

Bears fans must wonder, what if they could have cheered for him in Strawberry Canyon in the late 1990s? What if Cal was his springboard to an NFL legacy, one the Bears could use to recruit the next Tom Brady?

Um, we might have gone to the Sun Bowl? My memory of football history is short, but I don’t believe the late 90s sported great Cal football teams, with major deficincies at skill positions and eroding defensive talent. 3-8, 6-6, 3-8, 5-6, 4-7 during Brady’s possible years of starting.

In any case, this article reeks of hindsight bias. “Oh, if Tom Brady had come to Cal, we’d have gotten rid of the Rose Bowl jinx years ago.” The way I understand it, Brady would have been the starter upon reaching Cal, and wouldn’t have had to work as hard to reach his goals. Whether the Bears would have improved that significantly with Brady at the helm is at best a dubious claim. But thanks for the idea, mainstream media.

But there is an interesting idea that isn’t explored as much as Cal’s “tragedy”. Namely, would Brady have become the quarterback he is today if he was a Golden Bear?

I’d love to say yes just for blatant homerism. But Brady’s shortcomings that buried him on the bench at Ann Arbor, sharing field-time with Lloyd Carr favorite Drew Henson would never have been an issue. Brady had to work harder than most quarterbacks to make their way to the path they’d chose. He never had the physical gifts of a Peyton Manning–he had to utilize his mind and rebuild himself on pure effort.

And that’s what ultimately made him the winner he is today–determination to realize his Personal Legend against all odds. And today he can reach the culmination. As a Golden Bear, I think he might have still reached those goals when he made it to the NFL, but it would have been tougher for him to discover those obstacles and he might have lost the edge. Who knows.

Let me turn it over to the readers. If Tom Brady had come to Cal, would things have changed for the program’s current state? And more interestingly, would Brady have become one of the NFL’s greatest QBs if he had

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