Upon Further Review

What if Tom Brady Never Became the Patriots’ Quarterback?

In this alternate reality, the Pats are the Patsies and no one knows Brady’s name.

Tom Brady seemingly on the verge of tears at a microphone
Tom Brady talks with the media about the Patriots ’ win over the Atlanta Falcons at the Super Bowl Winner and MVP press conference on Feb. 6, 2017, in Houston. Bob Levey/Getty Images

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Back in week two of the 2001 NFL season, Drew Bledsoe, star quarterback of the New England Patriots, took a vicious hit and was pulled from the game. A little-known backup replaced him. His name was Tom Brady.

Brady, of course, went on to become the hero of Pats Nation, leading the team to multiple Super Bowl victories. But what if Bledsoe never got hurt and Brady, a 199th draft pick, never got off the bench?


Funny you should ask. That’s the “Kelly’s Roast Beef Question of the Day” on WRNT Boston’s fantastical sports talk radio station, hosted by Dougie and the Donk.

In the final episode of Upon Further Review, we travel to a world where the Patriots are mediocre and no one knows Brady’s name.


Upon Further Review is the podcast miniseries from Slate’s Mike Pesca, based on his book of the same name. The podcast examines some of the greatest sports “what ifs” in sports history through a combination of speculative fiction, investigative journalism, and sound-rich narrative.

Get Episode 1 of Upon Further Review, “If Nixon Was Good at Football, History Might Be Different,” here. Get Episode 2, “How Actor Jesse Eisenberg Doomed the Phoenix Suns,” here. Get Episode 3, “What if the Dodgers Never Left Brooklyn?” here. Get Episode 4, “What if the 1999 U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Had Lost the Women’s World Cup?” here.

Podcast production by Bradley Campbell and Derek John.
Special thanks to Robert Lewis, Sara Rose Brenner, and Steve Dyer.