Tom Brady has a special rooting interest in Sunday’s matchup between theCleveland Browns and Houston Texans. Two of his former backups in New England — Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett — will be starting under center in what has been dubbed the “Tom Brady Backup Bowl.”
Hoyer earned the Browns’ No. 1 quarterback job during the preseason, beating out rookie Johnny Manziel. He’s led Cleveland to a 6-3 record this season and the top spot in the AFC North. Meanwhile, Mallett will be making his first career NFL start after replacing the ineffective Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Brady thinks it’s “pretty cool” that his two former teammates will face off this weekend in Cleveland, and mentioned that he will be paying attention to the afternoon game before his own Sunday night matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, via the Houston Chronicle:
“It speaks to their work ethic, what they’ve been able to accomplish,” Brady said. “They’ve both overcome quite a bit in their career, so it will be fun to see.”
The undrafted Hoyer played behind Brady from 2009-11, and saw time in 13 games over those three seasons. The Patriots took Mallett in the third round of the 2011 draft and he spent his first year on the practice squad. Mallett noted that Hoyer “helped him a lot”during their lone season together in New England.
Mallett eventually beat out Hoyer for the backup spot in 2012, and spent two seasons in that role before being traded to the Texans this summer. Hoyer, after being released by the Patriots and an unsuccessful stint with the Arizona Cardinals in 2012, signed with Cleveland last year and has gone 9-3 as a starter for the Browns over the last two seasons.
The two quarterbacks also have a connection with Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, who was the Patriots’ quarterbacks coach from 2009-10 and the offensive coordinator in 2011.