A $2B Mistake: How 31 NFL Teams Ignored the Inherent Talent of Tom Brady

Tom Brady. Overlooked by every NFL team. Talent mistakes are costly.

On April 16, 2000, in a bustling Madison Square Garden in the heart of New York City, a 22-year-old quarterback from the University of Michigan was selected in the 6th round at number 199 in the National Football League (NFL) Draft.

Tom Brady 2000 Nfl Draft Card Pick 199
Tom Brady Draft Card, courtesy NESN

In NFL Draft terms, there is little fanfare for being selected as #199. Few so-called late or “high round” selections have ever distinguished themselves as elite or Hall of Fame players since the NFL draft began in 1936. An elite NFL player is one who is remembered long after their playing days, which NFL stats show is brief: the average NFL career is 3.3 years.

6 other quarterbacks were selected earlier in the 2000 Draft.
2 of them had good careers. The others never achieved their draft potential.

One never played a single NFL game.

By pick number 199, EVERY NFL team in the NFL had looked at this player. And passed.

Some teams passed on him 4 times.

Others passed on him 8 times.

Draft choice #199 was unremarkable when compared with traditional NFL selection metrics: height, weight, hand span, vertical jump, bench press, 40-yard dash speed, and the 50 question Wonderlic Personnel Test score.

Experts missed

His battle from 7th string to starter at Big Ten football powerhouse University of Michigan earned him no respect. NFL Scouts – player selection experts who are paid millions of dollars – had few positive remarks about #199.

Tom Brady, From Unheralded Pick #199 To 7 Time Super Bowl Champion
A $2B Mistake: How 31 NFL Teams Ignored the Inherent Talent of Tom Brady

“Poor build. Skinny. Lacks great physical stature and strength. Lacks mobility. Lacks a really strong arm. Gets knocked down easily.”

Enough about his good points.

Despite the low enthusiasm about pick #199, Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. beat the odds.

Actually, he destroyed them.

And he is not yet done breaking and rewriting the record books.


Tom Brady is the greatest NFL quarterback to ever play the game. Most regular season wins. Most Super Bowl wins. Most touchdowns. At age 44, he remains known as one of the hardest-working players in the league. That is after enduring a career 6 times longer than the average NFL player.

So, how is it that EVERY expert in the NFL missed on Tom Brady? Multiple times.

With all of the film studies, player research, testing, workouts, scouting reports, and data analytics, how could EVERY team repeatedly ignore the greatest quarterback ever?

Evaluating talent is hard. Mistakes can be costly. Like $2B

The ability to accurate choose told talent is hard. Really hard. Ridiculously hard.

But it is well worth every ounce of sweat required to thoroughly consider every talent decision.

The value of great talent choices is difficult to pinpoint with precision. The reality is that extraordinary choices create extraordinary value. Using the specific case of Tom Brady, his estimated financial impact for the New England Patriots during his 20-year career is a breathtaking $2B.

A study by consulting firm McKinsey showed that in highly complex occupations, high performers are an astounding 800 percent – 8 times more productive. That means for the same cost input, you get 8X more productivity when you choose an extraordinary well suited choice.

So how do we do that? As it relates to sales, and especially sales leadership, how do we improve?

How do we, as leaders and executives get dramatically better at selecting remarkable talent?

Further, how do we pick remarkable talent who are themselves remarkable at picking top talent?

Why is that so important? Because leaders pick other leaders. Sales leaders pick salespeople. Some leaders pick dozens, or even hundreds of salespeople. Each year.

Are they only as good as the NFL scouts who miss and overlook the best players?

What is needed is a system for doing dramatically better at selecting top talent and fully developing your team.

It is what StrikeZone can help you do in your company.