Malcolm Mitchell had a storybook rookie season. A fourth-round draft pick out of Georgia, Mitchell became an important part of the New England offense as the season wore on and played a key role in the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, hauling in six catches for 70 yards in an epic 34-28 overtime win over Atlanta.
Mitchell, though, credited his quarterback for that success. His name is Tom Brady. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.
Fun fact: Mitchell, 23, was seven years old when Brady was drafted in 2000. Brady’s experience paid off in Super Bowl LI, particularly when New England faced a 28-3 deficit midway through the third quarter.
“We ran a lot of no-huddle, so there wasn’t a lot of time for a huddle, but even on the sidelines, Tom performed as well as he did on the field as he did on the sidelines being a great leader,” Mitchell said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “He kept everybody motivated. He was cool, calm, collected and he didn’t panic, so obviously being a young guy looking up to him, I just followed his lead.”
The Patriots trailed 21-3 at halftime but scored 31 unanswered points to end the game. Contrary to popular belief, neither Brady nor Bill Belichick gave an impassioned halftime speech.
“Most people like to think there was this Hollywood moment where somebody stood up and gave an electrifying speech, but that didn’t really take place,” Mitchell said. “You had leaders in the locker room with their heads up, so being a rookie, I just observed the room and saw their confidence in the team and immediately fell in line, just as they did.”
After the win, Mitchell walked up to Belichick and embraced him. Without Belichick, Mitchell knows he wouldn’t have been a Super Bowl champion.
“It was a great moment to share with somebody who believed in me from the time I was in college to the end of that game,” said Mitchell, who had 32 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns this season. “Obviously for the Patriots to draft me, he must have seen something.”