This will be coming during March for the inaugural class of the new California High School Football Hall of Fame, which is going to open later in 2022 at the Rose Bowl. The newly retired NFL quarterback from Serra of San Mateo only went 4-6 in both seasons of high school football, but there is one voter on the 25-person committee who will have no problem voting for him. Go inside for reasons why.
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One of the biggest no-brainer votes in the history of any pro sports hall of fame will come in five years when quarterback Tom Brady becomes eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Brady, who officially retired on Tuesday after it was reported over the weekend that it would happen, won seven Super Bowls and played in 10 of them in 22 seasons (20 with the New England Patriots and two with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
Brady will never be eligible for the College Football Hall of Fame because one of the prerequisites is that a player has to be named to at least one All-American first team. That didn’t happen for him at the University of Michigan.
On the same day Brady retired, a list of nominees for the first-ever inaugural class to the new California High School Football Hall of Fame was sent to a group of 25 on a committee (including several prominent journalists, CIF officials, former players and other names many people would know) who will begin to vote in a few weeks for those who will be in that first class.
Brady’s name is among those on the list.
Cal-Hi Sports already has served the formation of this new Hall of Fame through research and in helping to build the list of nominees. We get a vote, too, and will be voting for Brady.
Some might think that Brady doesn’t belong in any high school hall of fame besides at his own alma mater at Serra (San Mateo). The Padres, after all, were only 4-6 and 4-6 in his two seasons there (1993 & 1994).
But we covered him back then and saw him perform at the first major recruiting combine ever held in our state, which was at St. Mary’s College in Moraga in the spring before Tom’s senior year at Serra. He was as accurate with his throws as you’d expect and was as much of a sponge soaking up every ounce of what he could learn from everyone there as any kid we’ve ever seen at any combine. He was easily one of the top two QBs there, along with San Benito of Hollister lefty Cade McNown.
It’s funny looking back that McNown, who moved to Oregon for his senior season, was ranked ahead of Brady all through college and was a first-round pick out of UCLA by the Chicago Bears in the same NFL Draft in which Brady went in the sixth-round to the Patriots.
Given today’s world in which QBs go to all sorts of showcases and camps plus social media plus the Elite 11 (which like combines was developed by Student Sports’ and former Cal-Hi Sports publisher Andy Bark), we’re pretty sure Brady would have had even more offers than the two he did get from Cal and Michigan.
Brady’s college recruiting was much different than what happened with two later, current NFL superstars from Pleasant Valley of Chico (Aaron Rodgers) and Firebaugh (Josh Allen). Neither Rodgers or Allen got a sniff from colleges during high school, instead bulking up and breaking loose at junior colleges.
The two 4-6 records at Serra also were a bit misleading. Then and now, the Padres were competing in one of the two or three strongest leagues in California, the West Catholic Athletic League. If a team goes 4-6 today in the WCAL, with competitive equity based playoffs, Brady could have gone 4-6 in the regular season and still could have won a CIF state title or two in lower divisions.
Despite being on a team without much talent around him, Brady still put up more than solid passing totals. At one point toward the end of his senior season, Brady was third in the state in passing yards and he finished with just under 2,000 yards.
We wish we could say that we knew the future and that Brady was first team all-state. He wasn’t and he wasn’t second team, either. That’s where QBs from teams that won championships have an edge. But he would have been third team at quarterback or multi-purpose and he was first team All-Bay Area.
One of the people who did an All-Bay Area team for many years, the late Merv Harris (who was a friend as well), saw Brady play at Serra several times on Saturday afternoon games. Merv once said Brady was one of the best high school QBs he’d ever seen. Merv and some others knew that Brady also was a top MLB prospect as a catcher and he was drafted in 1995 by the Montreal Expos. None of us were surprised he went for football at Michigan.
Another factor to keep in mind about this first California High School Football Hall of Fame is that it will have 100 inductees, which is part of the Rose Bowl’s 100-year anniversary celebration. If it were a much smaller number, than Brady getting voted in would be more difficult. Plus, there figures to be perhaps as many as 15 to 20 QBs who will be among the first class. Of course, John Elway (Granada Hills) and Carson Palmer (Santa Margarita) and perhaps a few others had prep careers that were sensational and were far superior to Brady’s. It’s just that Brady’s later career in the NFL is superior to any other QB who has ever played.
Brady’s high school career can be looked at as well alongside the other greatest pro sports athlete (in terms of championships) who’s ever played in Boston or New England. That would be basketball’s Bill Russell (who also is from a Bay Area high school, McClymonds of Oakland). Russell was clearly a late bloomer at Mack in the early 1950s who didn’t start to show how great he would become until playing at USF.
The joke we’ve always had surrounding Tom is that he wasn’t the best high school athlete in his family. That’s still true as older sister Maureen set numerous state softball records as a pitcher at nearby public school Hillsdale of San Mateo from 1988-1991 (her daughter and Tom’s neice, Maya, is currently starring in softball at UCLA). But Maureen would easily go into any California high school softball hall of fame, too, if one was ever created.
And if remaining connected to your school is part of the criteria, Brady has been like a Super Bowl MVP with Serra. He and his family have made generous contributions (Brady Family Field) and in the build-up to help get California kids back on the field for a spring season in 2021, Serra head coach Patrick Walsh didn’t have to ask twice for Tom to appear on a video conference with him and others voicing their support for the state to lift some of its restrictions. Brady’s involvement in the cause likely helped the effort to eventually succeed.
California also is, after all, more of a quarterback state than any other position. For some positions, like defensive line and linebacker, people probably would be surprised just how few from the state are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So for this new high school hall of fame, how would it look if the greatest quarterback of all-time isn’t in it because a few people are just too hung up on those two 4-6 records?
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports
It’s great to see that we finally will have a California High Sch00l Sports Hall of Fame. I would hope that the selection will be based on high school performance not what they did at college or as a professional. Your article above seems to an attempt to justify the selection of Tom Brady. In my opinion his high school performance would not meet a selection. Regardless of the fact he played in a tough league. I would hope the voters keep all this in mind. Tom Brady did not meet the standards to be selected to the College Hall of Fame. He will be a first ballot election for the NFL hall and will validate a career of a truly great QB.
If the question is whether Brady was good enough in high school to be with some of the other QBs who are likely going to get votes, then the answer is yes. Especially among those we’ve seen in person in games or at combines. If it’s about whether he did enough, then that is what is questionable. High school performance also isn’t just about running up stats against questionable competition.
He was accurate at a combine, “at one point during the season” was third in passing yardage, with competitive equity today he ‘could’ve won a title,’ “pretty sure” he would have had more offers than Cal and Michigan if they had QB showcases like today, and the 4-6 records were misleading. Yep, a solid argument to be in the California High School Football Hall of Fame. I wonder how many other players qualify based on those standards? Another example as to why halls of fame are so, ahem, meaningful. Great website though!
Based just on high school, which no high school section hall of fame that we know of goes by, then of course Brady didn’t do enough to be in this one. But after high school does count and no one in California history has also obviously been better than Brady — and by a landslide.
Thanks for the reply much appreciated. If the criteria for the Hall of Fame says that it based on career stats not just high school performance then Brady is in. But I am sure no criteria would include pop warner or combine performances. Keep in mind that many QBs from California have won NFL championships, NCAA championships, Heisman Trophies, are in various halls of fames. If you only count super bowls Brady is all alone at the top. The first QB I fell in love with was a Texan Bobby Layne. I have seen them all. I believe the best naturak QB I have ever seen is Aaron Rodgers.