With New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady 60 minutes from his fifth Super Bowl ring, it’s time for a stroll down memory lane.
Do you remember where you were April 16, 2000, the second day of the NFL draft, a date that lives in infamy for Browns fans?
I was at Browns headquarters in Berea, Ohio, making frequent trips to the frozen yogurt machine. Organizational giddiness abounded after the first day’s selection of Penn State defensive end Courtney Brown with the No. 1 overall pick, then receiver Dennis Northcutt in the second round and Miami University running back Travis Prentice in the third.
Now it was time to find those hidden gems on Day 2, the players who sometimes make or break these annual exercises.
With the 15th pick in the fourth round, the Browns selected a tight end named Aaron Shea from Michigan – significant only because it meant somebody in the team’s hierarchy, perhaps GM Dwight Clark, had studied him on film and had to notice him catching passes from Brady, who had spent the early part of the season trapped in a platoon with future two-sport bust Drew Henson.
Soon the sixth round was upon us, the frozen yogurt was still flowing and the Browns made the first of their many ill-fated quarterback decisions.
They chose scatter-armed Spergon Wynn, who had completed less than half his passes as a senior at Southwest Texas State with 13 interceptions and 14 touchdowns. (He had a strong arm and could throw the ball high, which later came in handy when they needed to simulate punts in practice, but that’s about it).
Sixteen selections later, the Patriots stumbled across Brady with the 199th overall pick. Six quarterbacks were picked ahead of him.
Everyone else passed on Brady for five rounds, so why fault the Browns? Because three teams picked quarterbacks in the sixth round (Marc Bulger went at the top of the round to the Saints) and the Browns got the only one who couldn’t play a lick, that’s why.
My question, in retrospect, is this: If they wanted insurance for Tim Couch, why reach for a no-name when Brady had sparkled just up the road in Ann Arbor? Sure, nothing about him jumped off the charts athletically and his combine performance was humorous, but he had just beaten Ohio State in dramatic fashion and then Alabama in the Orange Bowl, when he threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns.
Guess that explains why Clark’s career as a talent evaluator never quite took off.
Had the Browns chosen Brady, there is no guarantee it would have worked out, of course. Couch was their franchise quarterback, remember. But Bruce Arians hopped on board as the offensive coordinator in 2001 and surely would have spotted the talent that has Brady ticketed for the Hall of Fame. Couch was gone after the 2003 season.
It never happened, and the Browns still don’t have a quarterback.
Call it the Curse of Tom Brady.
All in all, just another good reason not to watch the Super Bowl if you’re a Browns fan.