For years around the Michigan football program, Tom Brady has been just a memory.
Thursday, though, he was a reality.
FULL TRANSCRIPT: What Brady said to team
The New England Patriots quarterback and former Wolverine stopped by Schembechler Hall for a speech to the team, hours before playing an exhibition game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
Michigan tweeted photos of him addressing the team and posing with Michigan coach Brady Hoke.
Considering Brady rarely has visited Michigan since becoming a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback in the early 2000s, this was a unique moment.
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Brady and Hoke have a strong relationship, dating to when Hoke was responsible for recruiting California and the West Coast as Michigan’s defensive line coach. Though Brady already was committed to Michigan when Hoke was hired, Hoke visited him in California, and they’ve been connected since.
Hoke said on the Rich Eisen podcast this summer that he wanted Brady to be involved in the program.
“I saw Tommy in Boston two weeks ago,” Hoke said at the time. “We were talkingabout a lot of different things. I saw his dad two nights ago in San Francisco.”
Hoke’s memories of Brady’s career in Ann Arbor are still vivid.
“He was skinny,” Hoke told Eisen. “He’s tall, as we all know. He’s a fighter. He’s a guy who’s a great competitor. That’s why he is who he is. I’m sure the experience you have when you come from a school like Michigan (helps).”
As for getting him to visit Michigan nowadays, Hoke knew it was a challenge.
“Him and I talk,” Hoke said then. “His schedule is crazy, as we all know. He is going to try and come out sometime and do some things.”
Hoke’s relationships with Brady and Charles Woodson has helped connect him with other legendary U-M players.
“No one is more humble than Tom; Charles is the same way,” Hoke said on the Eisen podcast. “We all came in the same year to Michigan, in 1995. Talk about guys who were highly competitive, were smart and had great work ethic. We all developed and gained things in those formidable years, (ages) 18-22. A lot of it came from inside but also came form the lessons learned at Michigan.”
Michigan holds Brady in high regard, despite his infrequent visits. In the recruiting lounge area that overlooks the indoor practice field, there are a few murals on the wall: one of Heisman Trophy winners, one of the Michigan Stadium, one of Bo Schembechler, one of the first night game and one of Brady.
Not bad for a quarterback who split time his junior and senior seasons and wasn’t really hailed by Michigan fans until his last game, winning the 2000 Orange Bowl in overtime.
Mark Snyder also writes for The Detroit Free Press, a Gannett property.