It wasn’t a hit or a crushing interception that Tom Brady felt had been his official “welcome to the NFL” moment.
During the second installment of the ESPN+ series, “Man In the Arena,” Brady opened up about his fourth year in New England, which included the stunning release of safety Lawyer Milloy ahead of the 2003 season.
“That was, for me, that was the one that hit hard,” Brady said in Tuesday’s episode. “You know, I remember driving home after that happened and I drove right over to his house, and I didn’t even know what to say.”
Milloy had been drafted in the second round by the Patriots in 1996. He had been at the core of New England’s defense and earned what would be his only Super Bowl ring following the team’s win against the St. Louis Rams in February 2002.
Leading up to the 2003 season, the Patriots signed fellow safety Rodney Harrison in March of that year. About six months later, the Patriots released Milloy after he had refused to take a pay cut to stay with the team. He had been in the fourth year of a seven-year, $35 million deal.
One day after his release from the Patriots, Milloy signed a four-year, $15 million contract with the Bills, to whom New England would eventually lose, 31-0, in their season opener.
“It was the first time that I recognized that this was, you know, a really tough business,” Brady said of Milloy’s departure, adding that he “couldn’t understand” why the Patriots would let a four-time Pro Bowler walk.
“I didn’t know they brought Rodney in to replace Lawyer, I thought they brought Rodney in to complement Lawyer,” Brady said. “I just was so mad that we let him go, and I just couldn’t understand why we let this guy go, who had meant so much to the team.
“That was kind of the welcome to pro football moment,” the quarterback continued.
Despite the shaky start, Brady and the Patriots finished the 2003 regular season with a 14-2 record. They later advanced to the Super Bowl and defeated the Carolina Panthers in February 2004.
Credit: Notigroup Newsroom.
[This article may have been written with information from various sources]