Tom Brady was a Merrill Lynch intern in the '90s—here's what he was like according to his boss

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady signs autograph for his fans after a practice during the Patriots training camp at Bryant College in Smithfield, RI Saturday, July 27, 2002.
Photo by Chitose Suzuki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Long before Tom Brady was considered the GOAT (aka, greatest of all time) of the NFL, he was a 21-year-old University of Michigan student with a summer internship at Merrill Lynch in Ann Arbor.

Brady's boss there, Oliver Owens, now 64, remembers him as one of the most well-liked interns ever.

"He was absolutely polite to everyone, always had a 'good morning' for everyone," Owens, a former vice president at Merrill Lynch, tells CNBC Make It.

"[He] worked hard, did what he was asked to do [and] liked to be busy," Owens says.

Brady interned in the office his junior and senior summers in the '90s. During that time, the market was hitting record highs, says Owens, so some of the financial advisors in the office weren't working as hard or long over the summer.

That didn't sit well with intern Brady.

"One day, I remember him kind of throwing up his arms and saying, 'Doesn't anyone do any work around here?!'" Owens recalls.

Owens says Brady hated to sit around and was anxious to learn everything he could about the job.

So when Brady complained he didn't have anything to do, Owens would have him update all the phone numbers and addresses in his Rolodex (the card-based file system people used to store contacts before personal digital devices were a thing).

"I still have it today sitting on my desk," Owen says. "[It] gives me a chuckle when I think about it and it's a helluva conversation piece when a football fan/client comes into my office," Owens, who now works as a vice president at UBS.

According to Tom Brady's former Merrill Lynch boss, Oliver Owens, this is the Rolodex he would have Brady update in his downtime as an intern.

According to Brady's old resume, which he posted on Facebook in 2014, the internship exposed him to "upper-level management and company strategy," and he researched stock and mutual fund reports, updated client portfolios and gained knowledge of broker activity.

Brady was so good at gathering research before a big client meeting that, after his second summer, Owens says he sat Brady down and told him he could have a bright future in finance. But Brady, a college senior at the time, told Owens he wanted to give professional football a try.

Though Owens didn't want to dampen Brady's dreams, he says he advised Brady that he could have a far better, more lucrative and longer career in finance than he ever would in football.

"You have to think about your long-term future," Owens remembers telling Brady.

Months later, Brady was chosen by the New England Patriots in the sixth-round of the 2000 NFL draft as a backup quarterback. In 2002, Brady made his first Super Bowl appearance as second-year quarterback, leading the Patriots to its first Super Bowl win. To date, Brady was led the Patriots to six Super Bowl titles in his two decades with the team. Now 42, Brady is currently the third-oldest player in the NFL.

And that work ethic Owens remembers followed Brady to professional football. Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said in November that the hardest part about playing with team captain Brady was that he doesn't like to celebrate regular season wins, because no matter how well you do, there is always still something to improve on, according to Brady.

"I have a job to do," Brady said on "The Greg Hill Show," defending his post-win demeanor.

"My job, it's very important to me. I want us to do as best we possibly can each week, like I always have. Everybody puts a lot into it and you want to see a great performance. When it's less than that I don't know what I should feel other than what is authentic to me and what is authentic to my own personal feelings and beliefs about how we should be performing and what we need to do in order to do better," Brady said.

On Wednesday, after the Patriots were knocked out of the NFL playoffs, Brady took to Instagram to assure fans that he has no plans on retiring any time soon.

"In both life and football, failure is inevitable. You don't always win. You can, however, learn from that failure, pick yourself up with great enthusiasm, and place yourself in the arena again. And that's right where you will find me. Because I know I still have more to prove," Brady wrote.

Representatives for Brady declined to comment. 

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