John Madden knew Tom Brady would be 'for real' in 2002
Does John Madden have a crystal ball? He predicted Tom Brady was special all the way back in 2002 when it wasn't as clear. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady is 44 years old and still a star in the NFL. He’s played beyond what anyone figured he would. And he’s played at a level higher than most figured he could. His career trajectory has been truly unfathomable.

But nearly 20 years ago, announcer John Madden thought Brady was the real deal.

During Thursday night’s season-opening game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys, NBC played a clip from the Monday night game in Week 1 of the 2002 season. That game was between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brady was the quarterback of the defending champion Patriots at the time. But he was just a sixth-round pick who took over for Drew Bledsoe the year before and had only 413 regular-season attempts under his belt. There were still many questions about how good Brady would be.

Madden, who was the analyst alongside Al Michaels, said he thought Brady would be “for real.”

That wasn’t such an easy call to make back then, but it seems silly in hindsight. The Patriots went 9-7 that season and missed the playoffs. But they followed it up by winning consecutive Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004.

If Brady put together a Hall of Fame resume in the first half of his career, the second half has been even more impressive. That’s truly incredible.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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