Howard Cosell would've referred to him as "the almost perfect tight end." Kyle Brady was and still is … almost perfect.
How else would you describe a 6-6, 278-pound man whose body appears to have been manufactured at a tight end factory? Bill Belichick so fell in "love" with Brady that Belichick was unable to pull the trigger on the Cleveland Browns' pick in the 1995 draft, after Brady was selected ninth overall by the New York Jets, who were just ahead of the Browns. Belichick had his heart set on Brady.
But success didn't come as quickly or easily for Brady in New York as it did at Penn State. His move from college football to the NFL involved significant culture shock. At Penn State, Brady played for Joe Paterno and wins came 10 a season. With the Jets, Brady's rookie coach was Rich Kotite and Brady's first two years in the league produced four wins and far fewer catches than expected.
This Sunday, Brady will line up against his former team when the 1-2 Jets face the 1-1 Jaguars at Alltel Stadium. When he gazes at the Jets' distinctive green and white uniforms glistening in the Florida sunshine (maybe), Brady's career may flash in front of his eyes.
"Everything was new to me. Looking back on it now, I don't know that I realized what an adjustment it was. Coming from Penn State and everything being channeled through Joe Paterno, and all of a sudden you're immersed in this huge media market," Brady said following today's practice.
"Eventually, I came to enjoy New York. There's so much culture there," he added.
And eventually Brady enjoyed success with the Jets under Bill Parcells in 1997 and '98. He was beginning to fulfill his draft-day promise. He was on his way to becoming that "almost perfect tight end," but it wouldn't happen in New York.
His move to Jacksonville in 1999 free agency has produced the three best seasons of Brady's career. He caught a career-high 64 passes in 2000. He has six catches in two games this year.
"Parcells brought me into his office at the end of the ('98 season). He said, 'I've got two options. I can either franchise you or transition you. I think I'll end up transitioning you.' He said, 'I'd love to have you back, but if some team wants you, I may not be able to keep you,'" Brady said of the conversation.
The Jaguars made Brady an offer Parcells couldn't match and Brady couldn't resist. The Jaguars fit all of the criteria Brady had set.
"This was a young, on-the-rise team with a stable environment and they made me a very good offer," Brady said. "Overall, it's been very positive down here. I met my wife here. We had a great year in '99 and we're trying to get back to where we were. But it's still a little strange lining up and seeing the green and white. I don't have any regrets about coming here or leaving there. But I still go back and visit."
Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell made a Cosell-like observation. "Nobody wants to tackle that guy. He's huge. Just an ideal tight end," Brunell said.