FOXBORO, Mass. — The NFL preseason officially kicks off Sunday night with the annual Hall of Fame Game.
Speaking before Sunday afternoon’s training camp practice, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick shared an interesting story about 2000 Hall of Fame Game, the last one to feature the Patriots.
That also was first professional contest of Tom Brady’s career, and it pitted him against another quarterback the Patriots considered selecting in the 2000 NFL Draft, Louisiana Tech product Tim Rattay.
New England ended up picking Brady 199th overall, the San Francisco 49ers nabbed Rattay 13 picks later, and New England and San Francisco squared off in Canton, Ohio, on July 31, 2000 in the preseason opener for both teams.
“That was an interesting game, because we started out a little bit on the Tim Rattay trail,” Belichick said. “(Former Patriots quarterbacks coach) Dick Rehbein went down there and worked him out at Louisiana Tech, or wherever he was from. They ran a big spread offense, and he had a lot of big numbers and all of that, and we kind of liked him and thought that might be a late-round pick.
“Then we got on Brady, so it was kind of Brady and Rattay in that (sixth) round. Then, as luck would have it, we took Brady and they took Rattay, and then they were playing against each other. And so we kind of got a look at that, those two quarterbacks in the sixth round, or whatever Brady was, but the same thing.
“I guess we took the right one.”
Indeed they did.
Rattay went on to play in 40 career games with the 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals and played two seasons in the now-defunct United Football League before officially retiring in 2010. Brady’s career, of course, has turned out just a bit better.
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images