San Diego Chargers: Biggest Draft Day Regret In Franchise History
The San Diego Chargers have been guilty of getting rid of or negligent in drafting Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. Just look at their history: they traded the rights to Eli Manning, released Drew Brees and passed on selecting Tom Brady in the NFL Draft. The common thread between all three is the ability to play at their best in big games.
How often does a franchise regret their sixth-round draft pick, but Brady has won four Super Bowls and is destined for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame once his playing career has ended. Bear in mind, the Chargers weren’t alone passing on him, as 198 times, other franchises chosed someone else off the draftboard before the New England Patriots finally selected Brady with the 199th pick in the sixth-round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
Let’s not forget the Chargers were in the midst of the Ryan Leaf era, as he quickly became the main source of the fans displeasure over another disappointing season. Also, Leaf was becoming a distraction inside his own lockerroom. To outsiders, it seemed like a no-brainer for the front office to rebuild with another young quarterback.
Let’s go back in time, as the main culprit of this colossal mistake was then Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard, who was a nonconformist that always betted on the moment rather than the future. Often, he traded away future first-round draft picks to acquire extra selections in that current year’s draft. Sometimes, these moves (WR Mikhael Ricks and WR Brian Stills) backfired horribly.
Beathard was a firm believer that a head coach and his staff should coach and let the front office build the roster. Never should the two intertwine. His goal each offseason was to acquire impact players either through the draft or via trade and free agency. With each passing year, Beathard was becoming more frustrated with the entire process.
Brady caught the eye of Mike Riley during his tenure as the offensive coordinator of the USC Trojans. In fact, Riley thought he had the talented prep star signed, sealed and delivered to Southern Cal until then Trojans head coach John Robinson put a wrench in that plan. He informed him there wasn’t an available scholarship for Brady, as the final one was awarded to incoming freshman sensation, quarterback Quincy Woods.
Once, he became the Chargers head coach, Riley lobbied hard to the front office to use a late round pick on Brady. Beathard wasn’t convinced, as Brady’s combine workout graded out average. The team’s final evaluation report of him read that he was nothing more than a serviceable backup quarterback.
All of this talk is pure speculation and doesn’t guarantee that Brady would have the same success in San Diego as he achieved in New England. No one can argue that he has played his entire NFL career with a giant chip on his shoulder. Brady is always trying to prove the experts wrong, as this motivation has prompted him to become one of the best to ever play the quarterback position.
This is what we do know about Tom Brady, he went into his first professional training camp with the Patriots as a fourth-string quarterback. After an impressive preseason, Brady elevated himself into the primary backup role behind starter Drew Bledsoe, as he seized an opportunity given to him and never looked back.
Why and how? Well, winning does matter to him.