Tom Brady by no means deliberate to put on No. 12 and different fascinating tales from his oldest ex-teammate, Lee Johnson


Now that the summer time is right here, meaning the useless a part of the NFL offseason is formally upon us and though issues can get form of boring throughout this era, I made a decision to spice issues up this week by trying to find Tom Brady’s oldest ex-teammate. 

Brady goes to be 44 in August, in order that acquired me questioning, does he have any ex-teammates who’re getting near 60 years previous? I seemed into that and it took me down a rabbit gap that led me to probably the most fascinating gamers in NFL historical past and that participant is Lee Johnson, who truly does flip 60 this 12 months. (He was additionally drafted in 1985, which suggests Brady has an ex-teammate who was drafted 36 YEARS AGO. I don’t know how Brady continues to be taking part in.)

Johnson spent 18 years within the NFL with six completely different groups, together with the Patriots, who he performed for from 1999 to mid-2001. He was the visitor on Monday’s particular episode of the Choose Six Podcast and if you wish to hear every part he needed to say about his time within the NFL, make sure to hearken to the complete interview beneath. 

Though Johnson by no means received a Tremendous Bowl ring throughout his two and a half seasons in New England, he undoubtedly performed a small half in serving to to form the Patriots into what they might quickly change into: He made left-footed punters a virtually everlasting factor in New England and he is the rationale Brady wears No. 12. 

On the punting finish, Johnson was a left-footed punter and if you already know something about Invoice Belichick, you know that he is enamored with lefties. Throughout his first 19 seasons in New England (2000-18), Belichick had a left-footed punter and it began with Johnson, who he inherited from the prior Patriots regime. 

After all, Johnson’s extra lasting impression in New England might need been Brady’s jersey quantity. Popping out of school, Brady wished to put on 10 — as a result of that was his quantity at Michigan — however he did not get it as a result of Johnson was carrying it, which Brady as soon as talked about in a press convention. 

After Brady name-dropped Johnson on the press convention, the previous NFL punter says he began listening to from anybody and everybody. 

“As soon as he [said that], it was if I by no means performed soccer,” Johnson stated on Monday’s episode of the Choose Six podcast. “I used to be a much bigger celeb from that than from any of my 18 years as a participant.”

As for No. 10, the loopy factor is that if Brady had requested Johnson for the quantity, the longtime NFL punter says he would have given it up in a “heartbeat.”

“I do not recall him ever speaking to me or reaching out to me,” Johnson stated. “Had he reached out to me, I might have given him that quantity in a heartbeat.”

Johnson wore No. 11 for many of his profession, so he wasn’t overly tied to holding No. 10. After all, Brady most likely did not ask as a result of he was a rookie QB and Johnson was occurring his fifteenth NFL season at that time and that is simply not a request {that a} rookie would make as a result of how far down they’re on the totem pole… however that is how shut we got here to getting TB10 as a substitute of TB12. Ought to Johnson be getting a reduce of the TB12 royalties? In all probability.

One small twist right here is that Brady and Johnson truly had lockers that have been subsequent to one another in New England. 

“I used to be there for thus in need of time with Tom that the quantity was by no means introduced up,” Johnson stated. “I feel he was simply completely satisfied to be there.” 

Johnson is popping 60 in November, which makes him the oldest person who Brady has ever performed with within the NFL. Regardless that he is Brady’s oldest ex-teammate, Johnson’s NFL reminiscences are nonetheless recent. 

For example, Johnson had very low expectations when Brady took over because the crew’s starter after Drew Bledsoe was knocked out of the sport again in September 2001. Up till that time, the one time anybody had seen Brady play was in apply and the previous Michigan quarterback hadn’t precisely been crushing it. 

“I knew we did not have, on the time, a extremely strong, skilled backup,” Johnson defined. “I simply bear in mind watching Tom in apply and I am considering, “This man, OK, perhaps sooner or later in his profession [he’ll be good]. Possibly Invoice noticed one thing in him as a participant as a result of I used to be by no means in apply considering this man was ever going to be the inheritor obvious for the New England Patriots. Ever.”

After Brady went in for his first snap, Johnson thought the Patriots have been going to be in “hassle.”

“So after they put Tom in — it is an actual tribute to Invoice and [offensive coordinator] Charlie Weis, who had seen one thing about Tom that they’d actually appreciated — and so they went with him and I simply bear in mind considering, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re in hassle,'” Johnson stated. 

As soon as Brady acquired on the sector although, Johnson noticed a totally completely different participant. 

“You simply noticed a man who when he acquired on the sector, he simply grew to become a grasp common,” Johnson stated. “It was so spectacular to observe him from after I noticed him in apply and the issues he did early on when he was operating third- and fourth-team versus what he did on the sector. I virtually should be hit within the mouth for considering the way in which I believed as a result of this man was ready go on the market and do issues that I had not see many guys do at that age within the NFL. It was a good looking sight to observe him go in there and carry out the way in which he carried out.”

Though Johnson began the season with the Patriots, he was launched after a Week 5 win over the Chargers. Johnson fumbled a snap within the sport, which led to a Chargers landing. That exact sport is notable in NFL historical past as a result of it gave us Tom Brady’s first profession landing cross. 

“I used to be simply bummed out that I used to be there such a short while to observe this man do that factor,” Johnson stated. “He was magical. Do not ever choose a e-book by its cowl. You possibly can’t choose a man’s coronary heart, thoughts and skills.”

After Johnson’s launch, the Patriots would go on to win a Tremendous Bowl, however sadly, they did not ship him a hoop.  

“I used to be eligible for a hoop in the event that they wished to ship it, however they did not ship it to me,” Johnson stated. “I used to be bummed out. I wanted that factor. That will have been candy. I used to be there 5 video games, so I undoubtedly certified. Had I been there slightly bit longer perhaps they might have finished it, however since I used to be solely there two and a half years, I do not suppose I actually made a reputation for myself.”

If anybody deserves a Tremendous Bowl ring, it is most likely Johnson, who’s been on the dropping finish of a number of the most devastating losses in NFL historical past. 

  • He performed for the Browns after they misplaced the 1987 AFC title sport to Denver after an Earnest Byner fumble with 1:17 left to play.  
  • He performed for the Bengals when Joe Montana hit John Taylor for a TD with 34 seconds left to present the 49ers a 20-16 win in Tremendous Bowl XXIII. 
  • He was on the sector when Bo Jackson’s profession led to a playoff sport. After Jackson left the sport, the Raiders have been nonetheless in a position to beat the Bengals. That loss in January 1991 began a postseason dropping streak for the Bengals that is nonetheless energetic. 
  • Johnson was additionally on the sector for Brett Favre’s first comeback win in September 1992. Favre threw a TD cross with 13 seconds left that gave Inexperienced Bay a 24-23 win. 
  • Johnson has the ninth-most losses of any participant in NFL historical past and that is principally as a result of he performed for the Bengals through the Nineties, which was mainly a misplaced decade for the franchise. (Enjoying for a foul crew did imply he acquired a whole lot of work although: Johnson completed his profession with the seventh-most punt yards in NFL historical past.)

Though he is been out of soccer since 2002, Johnson nonetheless has loads of ties to in the present day’s sport. He performed for 10 completely different coaches in his profession, together with three who’re nonetheless teaching: Belichick, Pete Carroll and Andy Reid. He additionally performed for Jerry Glanville, Marty Schottenheimer, Denny Inexperienced and Sam Wyche.



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