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The NFL history books might have been different if former NFL coach Sean Payton had his way.
Payton joined former NFL defensive end Chris Long on the “Green Light” podcast on Friday and revealed that while he was with the New York Giants as an assistant coach, he tried to convince the organization of selecting Tom Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft.
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Payton was the Giants’ quarterbacks coach in 1999 and was later promoted to offensive coordinator, under Jim Fassel. He then became the head coach of the New Orleans Saints and led the team to many successful seasons and a Super Bowl championship.
He said he considered Brady a third- or fourth-round pick.
“Okay, so I’m in New York and my agent is Don Yee, and Don is also representing Tom Brady. Don would call me periodically with a client he just signed, and he’d be like, ‘Hey, you want to call? Tom Brady? He’s in Michigan and I have him, and I’m just helping him with things that would be important to him at the combine,” Payton said. “Basically, I remember it was a half-hour phone call about what’s important, making a good impression, being ready to answer questions about football. Interviews were much more informal back then.
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“Now I’m kind of connected to this player just because Don introduced me. We were doing [scouting] Brady, now it’s been around the room and everyone saw Tom running the 40 at the combine. Everyone saw, you know, you get the body, weigh in pictures, all that. So you have a guy who is not fully developed yet who was about a year old beginner. You could say he needs the weight room. But Lloyd Carr [Michigan head coach] said it, I will never forget it, he said he was the toughest player he ever coached. It meant something.”
Payton admitted he didn’t have enough votes in the room for the Giants front office to make the pick. He said Giants scout Raymond Walsh agreed with his assessment.
In 2000, New York made running back Ron Dayne its first draft selection, 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.
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Brady fell in the sixth round to the New England Patriots, won six Super Bowls with them and became one of the greatest players in NFL history.