The top 10 athletes of the 2000’s….No. 3

December 21, 2009

"With the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL draft...."

The number three athlete began the decade as an obscure backup, but closes it as the most accomplished player in the nation’s most popular sport.  This quarterback is a three-time champion whose persona has transcended football.   In addition, despite appearing in just four Pro-Bowls and winning “only” one MVP, this athlete has been the epitome of clutch in the big spot, leading his team to some of the most memorable victories of the 2000’s.  Some players have passed him in terms of individual accolades and honors, but nobody can match his accomplishments when championships are on the line.

The number three athlete after the jump!

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots was a 6th round pick in the 2000 NFL draft, after losing his starting job while playing for Michigan.  After a devastating hit on Drew Bledsoe (by the Jets of all teams), Brady took over the reigns and led the Patriots to dominance in the 2000’s.  He has played in four Super Bowls, winning three of them while winning  two Super Bowl MVP awards (XXXVI and XXXVIII).  Moreover,  Brady holds the NFL record for most touchdown passes in a single regular season (50) and has the sixth-highest career passer rating of all time (93.2).  Brady was named as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, in 2005 and also helped set the record for the longest consecutive win streak in NFL history with 21 straight wins over two seasons.

In 2004 and 2007, Brady was named “Sportsman of the Year” by The Sporting News  as well as 2007 Male Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press.  It was the first time an NFL player has been honored since Joe Montana won in 1990.

Brady also holds numerous regular season and postseason records in addition to most touchdown passes in a regular season.   Tom Terrific has the highest single-game completion percentage, regular season or postseason (26/28, 92.9%), most completions in one Super Bowl, most completions in Super Bowl history (career), the highest winning percentage of any quarterback ever during his first 100 starts (76 wins), and the longest streak of games with 3 or more touchdown passes (10 games).  Likewise, Brady is the fourth-fastest player to reach 200 career passing touchdowns (116 games) and is the first quarterback in NFL history to have reached said mark with under 100 career interceptions (he had 88 interceptions).

What kind of player is this sixth-round draft pick, who started out as a nobody only to become the NFL’s version of Bruce Springsteen?   He’s a winner, a leader, and a clutch performer. The phrases used to describe Montana, Marino, Unitas — they all apply to Brady.

“I play in a team sport, so leadership is of paramount importance,” he says. “All of us in that locker room push each other, and we communicate well. I’ve never felt that leadership consists of empty words. Instead, I feel that you lead by showing up every day ready to work hard, and be accountable for what you do for yourself and toward others.”

Even as a Jet fan, tip of the cap to you, Mr. Brady. 

Honorable Mention-

Today’s athlete who just missed the cut dominated the NBA in the early years of the 2000’s, but slowly began to fade off into mediocrity.  Shaquille O’Neill began the decade as the league’s MVP, and appeared in 8 All-Star games (some by default, to be fair).  Furthermore, he was a member of the All-NBA team six times as well as the All-Defensive team three times.  O’Neill’s play fizzled out after the ’05-06 season, and age seemed begin to catch up with the big man.  I will say though that there was no other player teams feared as much as they did the Diesel in the 2000’s.


One comment

  1. […] No. 3- Tom Brady […]

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