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The NFL history books may have been different if former NFL coach Sean Payton had his way.
Payton on Friday joined former NFL defensive end Chris Long on the “Green Light” podcast and revealed that while he was with the New York Giants as an assistant coach he was trying to convince the organization to select Tom Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft.
Payton was a quarterbacks coach for the Giants in 1999 and later was promoted to offensive coordinator, serving under Jim Fassel. He’d later become the head coach of the New Orleans Saints and lead the team to many successful seasons and one Super Bowl championship.
He said he saw Brady as a third- or fourth-round pick.
“All right, so I’m in New York and my agent is Don Yee, and Don also represents Tom Brady. Don would periodically call me with a client that he just signed, and he said, ‘Hey, will you call up Tom Brady? He’s at Michigan and I’ve got him, and just help him out with things that would be important for him at the combine,'” Payton said. “Basically, I remember it being a half an hour phone call on what’s important, make a good impression, be prepared to answer some football questions. The interviews were much more informal at that time.
“Now I’m a little bit connected to this player only because Don introduced me. We were doing [scouting] Brady, now this is going around the room and everyone’s seen Tom run the 40 at the combine. Everyone’s seen, you know, you get the body, weigh in pictures, all of that. So, you have a guy who is not fully developed yet who was pretty much a one-year starter. You could tell that he needs the weight room. But Lloyd Carr [Michigan head coach] said this, I’ll never forget it, he said he’s the toughest player that he’s ever coached. That meant something.”
Payton admitted he didn’t have a big enough voice in the room to get the Giants’ front office to make the pick. He said one Giants scout, Raymond Walsh, agreed with his assessment.
In 2000, New York made running back Ron Dayne their first selection of the draft, 11th overall. The Giants mostly went defense during the draft – Cornelius Griffin, Brandon Short, Ralph Brown, Dhani Jones and Jeremiah Parker. Wide receiver Ron Dixon was taken in the third round.
Brady fell to the sixth round to the New England Patriots, won six Super Bowls with them and became one of the greatest players in NFL history.