Tom Brady's Video Game Career Dates Back To The 20th Century

Screenshot:  MilesDawkins247
Screenshot: MilesDawkins247

You can hear someone tell you Tom Brady’s age (45!) and it doesn’t really hit you, because the guy still looks pretty fit and healthy. To fully grasp the length of Brady’s tenure on this Earth, then, you need to realise that the man has appeared in a video game for the PlayStation. Like, the original PlayStation.

Brady, born in 1977, was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft—as the 199th pick—and spent his first season in the league as a fourth-string QB. He was so far down the NFL pecking order, in fact, that for his first appearance in MaddenMadden 01, which was released on the PS1—he wasn’t even named, he was just listed on the Patriots depth chart as “QB #12".

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A year later, having moved up to the backup spot, he took over from the injured Drew Bledsoe, led the Patriots to a championship and the rest is history. Note that his ascent to stardom happened so quickly that he didn’t even appear in most versions of Madden 02, the year he would go on to win the Super Bowl; in the PC, PS1, PS2 and N64 editions the Patriots only had the three QBs above him in the depth chart from the previous season, meaning only the Xbox and GameCube versions—released months later, after the 2001 season had already begun and Brady was the Patriots’ starting QB—had him in the game.

Brady retires as the statistical leader in almost every category that matters for a QB, from passing yards to passing attempts to TD passes, while also leading the league in ball deflation controversies, crypto scam endorsements and weird ways to kiss your kid on the mouth.

To celebrate his career—or, for many more of you, to celebrate his retirement, announced today—I’ve put together this slideshow showing his video game career, from those early days on the PS1 through to the NFL 2K series, Madden and some other stops in between. It won’t be every game from every year, that would be boring—and for recent Madden games incredibly repetitive—but still, it’ll be a nice little walk down memory lane. Unless you remember playing any of these first few games, in which case I’m sorry for reminding you how old you are.

NCAA Football 99

Screenshot:  NCAA 99
Screenshot: NCAA 99

Tom Brady’s very first video game appearance came while he was still in college, at the University of Michigan. EA’s NCAA Football 99 released on August 6, 1998, on the PlayStation 1 and PC. Here is the song that was top of the charts on the date:

Brandy & Monica - The Boy Is Mine (Official Video)

Madden 2001

Screenshot:  Madden 2001
Screenshot: Madden 2001

Brady’s first Madden appearance came during his rookie season, when he was a fourth-string QB. He was deemed so unimportant by both developers and the league that he wasn’t even named, just listed as “QB #12", and his stats were about as bad as a Madden player’s could be.

Screenshot:  Madden 2001
Screenshot: Madden 2001

NFL Gameday 2002

Screenshot:  NFL Gameday 2002
Screenshot: NFL Gameday 2002

This one’s for the six people who still remember the NFL Gameday series, a third-rate competitor to Madden and 2K which stuck around for a decade in the 90s and 00s before EA’s exclusivity deal (more on that soon) killed it off. It was made by SISA/989, the same team behind early MLB games and Warhawk, and was not great.

Brady did, however, make the cover of the series in 2003:

Image:  NFL Gameday 2003
Image: NFL Gameday 2003


Screenshot:  NFL 2K3
Screenshot: NFL 2K3

Here’s a screenshot of Tom Brady in NFL 2K3. There’s nothing remarkable about Brady’s appearance here, I just want to put on record once again that this was the best football series ever made, with a blocking and running system that’s still better than Madden, even today, and I miss it dearly.

Madden 06

Screenshot:  Madden 06
Screenshot: Madden 06

Back to Madden now, because...this game came out in 2005 and was the first release under the terms of an exclusivity deal signed between the NFL and EA Sports which meant only the latter could make official football games based on the league. It’s a deal which lives on to this day and has been a disaster for fans the world over, with the Madden series looking increasingly tired without any competition to drive it.

While we’re talking about Madden 06, please note the quality of the in-game screenshot above, then compare it to the one below, and know that this was a very big deal at the time.

Screenshot:  “Madden 06"
Screenshot: “Madden 06"

Madden NFL Arcade

Screenshot:  Madden NFL Arcade
Screenshot: Madden NFL Arcade

Don’t mind Brady’s weirdly cartoonish appearance here; this is Madden NFL Arcade, a casual, NBA Jam-style game released in 2009 for the PS3 and Xbox 360, and everyone looked like this. Featuring a small field, small teams and no kicking, plays could be juiced up with power-ups (like freezing players and throwing multiballs) and if you didn’t score within four downs you’d turnover possession. I loved this game with all my heart, and really wish EA would dust it off for the modern age.

Madden NFL Football

Screenshot:  Madden NFL Football
Screenshot: Madden NFL Football

Did you know a Madden game was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2011? Me neither, until I had to look stuff up for this feature.

Madden 13

Screenshot:  Madden 13
Screenshot: Madden 13

This is Madden 13, released in 2012, and by now the series is trying very hard to give players an accurate likeness under their helmets. They’re not succeeding, of course, as you can see, but they are trying.

Madden 18

Screenshot:  Madden 18
Screenshot: Madden 18

Things are looking better here for 2017's Madden 18, and with good reason: this was, somehow, the first time that Brady—already established as probably the greatest QB of all time—managed to land on the cover of the series.

Image:  Madden 18
Image: Madden 18

Madden 23

Screenshot:  Madden 23
Screenshot: Madden 23

Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of this slideshow comes the end of our look back on Tom Brady’s virtual career. Madden 23 has proven to be Brady’s final video game appearance, bringing to an end there era where we could say that a dude who had been in an N64 game was also in a PS5 game.


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