For years around the Michigan football program, Tom Brady has been just a memory.
On Thursday, though, he was a reality.
The New England Patriots quarterback and former Wolverine stopped by Schembechler Hall for a speech to the team, hours before playing an exhibition on Thursday night against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
Michigan tweeted photos of him addressing the team and posing with Michigan coach Brady Hoke.
Considering Brady rarely has visited Michigan since becoming a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback in the early 2000s, this was a unique moment.
Brady and Hoke have a strong relationship, dating to when Hoke was responsible for recruiting California and the West Coast as Michigan’s defensive line coach. Though Brady already was committed to Michigan when Hoke was hired, Hoke visited him in California, and they’ve been connected since.
Hoke said on the Rich Eisen podcast this summer that he wanted Brady to be involved in the program.
“I saw Tommy in Boston two weeks ago,” Hoke said at the time. “We were talking about a lot of different things. I saw his dad two nights ago in San Francisco.”
Hoke’s memories of Brady’s career in Ann Arbor are still vivid.
“He was skinny,” Hoke told Eisen. “He’s tall, as we all know. He’s a fighter. He’s a guy who’s a great competitor. That’s why he is who he is. I’m sure the experience you have when you come from a school like Michigan (helps).”
As for getting him to visit Michigan nowadays, Hoke knew it was a challenge.
“Him and I talk,” Hoke said then. “His schedule is crazy, as we all know. He is going to try and come out sometime and do some things.”
Hoke’s relationships with Brady and Charles Woodson has helped connect him with other legendary Michigan players.