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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

3 of the best underdog stories in NFL history

NFL players enter the league with all different levels of expectations. While some players are projected to achieve greatness at some point, other players aren't thought of so highly. There have been many cases where a player defies the odds to become a legend, despite low expectations. Here are three of those great underdog stories.

Best NFL underdog stories


#3 - James Harrison

Pittsburgh Steelers pass rusher James Harrison

James Harrison went undrafted in the 2002 NFL Draft before being signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency. He was cut after just one season, then played with the Baltimore Ravens and the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe for a year. The Steelers gave him another shot and signed him for a second time, where he would carve out a dominant role as a pass rusher.


During his time with the Steelers, James Harrison became the only undrafted player in NFL history to win a Defensive Player of the Year award. He was also selected to five Pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams and was a key contributor to a Steelers defense that helped them win two Super Bowl rings.

Watching Super Bowl 43 on NFL Network. I forgot how ridiculously beautiful James Harrison’s pick-6 was.
10:14 AM · Feb 20, 2022

#2 - Drew Brees

San Diego Chargers quarterback Drew Brees

Drew Brees put together a spectacular college football career at Purdue and was initially a highly projected draft pick. Concerns about his size caused him to slip out of the first round before being selected by the San Diego Chargers. Despite a relatively promising start to his career, the Chargers drafted Philip Rivers just four years later, and they allowed Brees to leave in free agency after another year.

The New Orleans Saints signed Drew Brees prior to the 2006 season, and the rest is history. Brees would help the Saints win a Super Bowl ring while putting together one of the most impressive careers by any quarterback of all time. He ranks second in career passing yards and touchdowns.

Drew Brees’s Super Bowl season was ELITE! I miss you… @drewbrees
1:45 AM · Apr 11, 2022

#1 - Tom Brady

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

Tom Brady was selected by the New England Patriots with the 199th overall pick in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. He was projected to be more of a backup quarterback because of where he was drafted and was initially the fourth-string quarterback for the Patriots. His opportunity to become a starter came in the 2001 season after Drew Bledsoe was injured.

Tom Brady took over for Bledsoe and never looked back, winning a Super Bowl in his first season as a starter. He has gone on to win three NFL MVP awards, seven Super Bowl rings and ten Conference Championships in the greatest career by any player of all time. He is a career leader in almost every category for a quarterback, including wins, yards and touchdowns.

Edited by
Windy Goodloe
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