When Tom Brady's name was called out in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, few could have predicted one Super Bowl ring, let alone six.
Six quarterbacks were taken ahead of Brady 19 years ago – the Michigan draftee selected with the 199th pick. Many teams appeared to pass on Brady, who to them looked very unathletic as he showed up to the NFL Draft combine.
The Patriots were a mess at the time. Head coach Pete Carroll had just been sacked after New England lost six of their final eight games in 1999. His replacement? Bill Belichick.
Fast forward a year and a team filled with castoffs from other franchises, including Antowain Smith, who joined from the Buffalo Bills and played an integral role as Brady learned the ropes in his first year as a starter, set the foundations for a dynasty that transcended the NFL and the American sporting landscape.
"When I first got there in 2001, my first year and Brady's second year, he was fourth on the depth chart for quarterbacks," two-time Super Bowl champion Smith said in an interview with Omnisport. "When [Drew] Bledsoe went down, Brady came on and led us to the Super Bowl, but you could see what he was going to be.
"His worth ethic, the way that he studies film, it was always after practice, he had the receivers in the back running routes, catching plays. He is that type of player – a consummate worker."
Brady and the Patriots have not looked back. With six Super Bowl championships, the veteran quarterback is now the most successful player in NFL history following New England's 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
Brady's status in the NFL is unrivalled after another monumental day in Atlanta. Dubbed the 'GOAT' by many – including Los Angeles Lakers and NBA superstar LeBron James – the question now turns to his legacy across all sports.
Is Brady – a four-time Super Bowl MVP, three-time NFL MVP and 14-time Pro Bowler – the greatest athlete we have ever seen?
"It's hard in the NFL to win Super Bowls because when you get to the playoffs, if you lose one you're out," former Patriots running back Smith said. "In basketball, you have seven-game series and in baseball the World Series you have seven-game series. In football, it's that one game. So all the pressure is on you to perform in that one game.
"The greatest athlete of all time? That's debatable. But to me, he is my guy, I'm gonna ride with him. We started that dynasty thing in New England and he has continued to carry on. To me, he is the GOAT in all sports."
Despite conquering the NFL on six occasions, the 41-year-old Brady has no plans to retire. When the new season gets underway in September, the California-born sensation will be 42.
"They always told me father time is undefeated. But as long as he is playing at a high level and he is still enjoying the game, play as long as you want. Because when it's over, it's over," Smith added. "Then he can look back over his career with his kids and say 'daddy was pretty good', he can brag and boast about that."
Key to Brady's remarkable success has been Belichick – the pair winning more Super Bowls than any another QB-coach duo in history, while they are the oldest QB-coach duo in the history of NFL's showpiece at a combined 107 years old.
Belichick has won 73.8 per cent of his career playoff games, the second-best rate among coaches with at least 10 games coached. Smith knows the 66-year-old well, having been lured to Foxborough as a free agent 18 years ago.
"Belichick is one of the smartest coaches I've ever had. A lot of people only give him credit on defense, but he knows what every player does on the offensive side of the ball, on special teams too," said the 42-year-old.
"He holds everyone accountable when you're not playing well. A lot of people say he's an a*******. He has loosened up in the years. He was tough early on but that's his way. He found out what works for him. You can't argue with his production. It's his way."
The Patriots silenced their doubters this year but can they win a fourth Super Bowl in six?
"I do not doubt them," Smith continued. "Every year they say this is the year the dynasty ends. You heard the talk this year. 'Patriots don't look like the Patriots of old', 'Brady is looking old'.
"But when it came playoff time, which is the time that matters, they went on that roll and won the Super Bowl. I'll never count them out until they're done."
|Tebow: I told Murray to follow his heart|
|Mourinho created unhealthy atmosphere – Sanchez|
|Santa Cruz defends belt against Rivera|
|Opelka, Isner set ATP Tour record at New York Open|
|Diallo soars over Shaq to win Slam Dunk contest|
|WATCH: Diallo dunks over Shaquille O´Neal|
|Silver: NBA trade requests should stay behind closed doors|
|´It´s more of an aspiration´ – LeBron clears up potential NBA ownership|
|Harris wins Three-Point contest ahead of Curry|
|Thomas leads rain-delayed Genesis Open|
|Tatum wins NBA Skills Challenge with stunning half-court shot|
|Robben: Anfield is the worst stadium|
|Valverde not nervous about Messi penalties after spot-kick miss|
|Sanchez ´worried´ amid Man United struggles|
|Schoeman hat-trick sees Lions past Jaguares|
|Piatek lives to score goals - Milan striker´s brilliant double pleases Gattuso|
|Lyon will punish Barca in this form, Pique warns|
|Guardiola lauds Silva´s ´incredible´ FA Cup performance|
|Clermont hit the top, Perpignan finally win|
|Schwartzman saves match point to down Thiem in Buenos Aires|
|Leinster withstand Zebre test as Connacht claim big win|
|Antonio Brown: Roethlisberger has owner mentality and you can´t call him out|
|Pizarro becomes Bundesliga´s oldest ever goalscorer|
|Wawrinka ends 20-month wait for final to book Monfils showdown|
|Barcelona 1 Real Valladolid 0: Hit and miss as Messi gets job done|
|Atalanta 1 AC Milan 3: Two-goal Piatek lands blow in fight for fourth|
|NBA, FIBA link up to start 12-team league in Africa|
|Guardiola proud of ´incredible´ City after Newport win|
|Worst pitch I´ve played on - Manchester City hero Foden unimpressed with Newport surface|
|LeBron James, Derek Jeter lead praise for retiring Yankees legend CC Sabathia|
|Durant happy for Porzingis but guarded on his own future|
|Newport County 1 Manchester City 4: Foden nets brace as upset is averted|
|Simeone plans Griezmann, Costa, Morata trident|
|Stephen Curry reveals three-point contest bet with brother Seth|
|Celtics, Lakers, Knicks on Anthony Davis´ list, along with 26 others|
|Mertens fights back to defeat Halep for her biggest WTA title|
|Championship Review: Norwich hit four as Baggies & Blades cruise|
|Sala mourned at funeral in Argentina|
|Costa thrilled to make Atletico return at old club Rayo|
|Specman´s spectacular debut double leads Bulls in Stormers thrashing|
|Sarries pounce on Chiefs slip as Saints sink sorry Sharks|
|Griezmann overtakes Torres on Atletico Madrid´s top-scorer list|
|LeBron James reacts to Kaepernick´s settlement with NFL: I´m happy he won his suit|
|Giannis to play for Greece at FIBA Basketball World Cup|
|Next question! - Russell Westbrook on All-Star Game team-mate Joel Embiid|
|Rayo Vallecano 0 Atletico Madrid 1: Griezmann downs derby rivals again|
|McIlroy on the charge as Tiger scrambles to make cut at Genesis Open|
|AFC Wimbledon 0 Millwall 1: Wallace knocks out West Ham conquerors|
|Lille star Leao dismisses Mbappe comparisons|
|Hamilton, Federer and Maradona send MotoGP great Rossi birthday wishes|
|Du Plessis applauds ´Superman´ Perera effort|
|Big Bash League: The best Opta facts ahead of Melbourne derby final|
|Farbrace stepping down as England assistant to take Warwickshire role|
|Spalletti hopes culprit is punished after reported attack on Icardi´s agent´s car|
|Tuchel wary of mounting PSG injury problems|
|Sangakkara, Jayawardene lead tributes to Kusal´s stunning Sri Lanka knock|
|Windies call up trio as injury replacements|
|Brighton and Hove Albion 2 Derby County 1: Knockaert strikes as Seagulls reach last eight|
|I did my part, says modest Sri Lanka match-winner Perera|
|Costa returns to Atletico Madrid squad|
|A-League Review: Perth Glory nine points clear after record defeat of Brisbane Roar|
|Ramos was asked a trick question - Solari|
|Crusaders begin with a win, Hurricanes leave it late|
|Sensational Kusal Perera inspires record-breaking Sri Lanka victory|
|Madrid´s old heads are helping Vinicius, says Solari|
|Ospina eyes South America switch as Napoli back Meret|
|I would want to be Anthony Davis, says Lakers great Abdul-Jabbar|
|Ribery future up in the air, says Bayern CEO Rummenigge|
|Smith and Warner will walk back into Australia team, says Clarke|
|Ferguson to manage Manchester United in ´Treble Reunion´ match|