After warming the bench for most of the 2000 season (he threw three passes for a total of six yards), Brady got his chance in 2001 when starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured in an early-season game against the New York Jets. By the end of that season, Brady had led his team to a Super Bowl victory, which earned him the first of two Super Bowl MVPs.
In 2007, Brady and the Patriots concluded a 16-0 season, a winning streak that was only snapped in a 17-14 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. Brady was injured for all but the first few minutes of the 2008 season, but in 2009 he has made his Patriots a contender once again.
Like Joe Namath, Brady’s exploits off the field have often commanded as much attention as his play. For example, his recent marriage to supermodel Gisele Bündchen kept the tabloids busy for months.
But fans will hang onto his 2000 Upper Deck and Leaf rookie football cards and collect his signed Playoff Contenders card from the same year because of his Sportsman of the Year awards in 2004 and 2007 and his Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year Award in 2007—the last football player to win that honor was Brady’s idol, Joe Montana.