By now, there's no doubting Tom Brady's placement among the NFL's all-time greats.
As he returns for his 23rd season, the legendary quarterback has nothing left to prove. The 15-time Pro Bowler has won a record-shattering seven Super Bowls under center. He also holds NFL records for passing yards, completions, and touchdowns.
Few could have envisioned Brady reaching such lofty heights, but John Madden saw something in the quarterback long before he fortified his legacy as the G.O.A.T.
On Wednesday, a video from 20 years ago made the rounds to Twitter's amazement. In a Monday Night Football broadcast from September 9, 2022, John Madden compared Brady to Hall of Famer Joe Montana.
"I'm not saying Tom Brady is Joe Montana," Madden prefaced with a laugh, "but I'm saying the way he gets back there and makes everything look so effortlessly and easy, he reminds me of Joe Montana."
Madden and Al Michaels discussed Brady's poise as he fired a bullet to Deion Branch for a touchdown.
Fans on Twitter marveled at the broadcasting icon recognizing greatness before everyone else.
It's also crazy to think that Madden and Michaels were in the booth together after Brady's first Super Bowl triumph, and yet the 44-year-old is coming back for another year without showing any signs of decline.
To be fair, Brady wasn't freshly removed from the sixth round at the time. He just led the Patriots to a stunning Super Bowl XXXVI upset over the St. Louis Rams.
However, it was still unclear if that Cinderella run was more than an anomaly by a young game-manager. In the 2001 season, the first in which Brady saw any meaningful playing time, he tallied 18 passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 15 regular-season games before tossing just one touchdown with 5.9 yards per pass attempt in three playoff starts.
Brady had yet to win everyone over as a true top talent, but Madden identified traits that Brady continued to display for the next two decades.