Tom Brady's First Look at Tampa Came as Brian Griese's Backup in the 1997 Outback Bowl


Tom Brady is close to signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The New England Patriots have played just played two games at Raymond James Stadium since Brady was drafted in 2000, winning both. Yes, Brady was the starting quarterback in both those games, throwing for a combined 611 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Those numbers are downright Jameis-esque which, should help fans deal with any impending culture shock.

Raymond James Stadium has hosted two Super Bowls, but Brady at the Patriots were not involved in either. Brady does have one other game under his belt in Tampa at Houlihan's Stadium, then named after the restaurant chain owned by Malcolm Glazer. The Stadium was demolished in 1999, the year before Brady was drafted.

Brady was a freshman backup to Brian Griese as Michigan lost to Alabama in the 1997 Outback Bowl. The starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide? Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens. Can you comprehend that Tom Brady and Freddie Kitchens were on opposite sidelines during the same college bowl game in 1997?

Freddie Kitchens during the same season that Tom Brady prepared to enter free agency.
Freddie Kitchens during the same season that Tom Brady prepared to enter free agency. / Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

This was also Gene Stallings' final game as head coach of Alabama. There would then be three more coaches - Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, and Mike Shula - before Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa.

Nearly 23 years later, Brady is scheduled to return to Tampa as a hero in a completely different football era. With nary a Gene Stallings, Brian Griese or Houlihan's in sight.