Brady, the Trump-supporting, all-American hero who’s just bought into Birmingham| SolSportHQ
Tom Brady might have walked straight out of central casting to be the all-American sporting hero. Standing 6ft 4in tall, Hollywood handsome and once married to a supermodel, he became the most-decorated NFL success story in history.
The fame of the man who has improbably bought into Birmingham City extended beyond even the USA’s vast expanses to enter the imagination of the wider world.
He has been feted globally for his achievements and longevity: an unprecedented seven Super Bowl triumphs, with his strong right arm carrying his career not only to a record passing yards — 89,214 — but to 45, the years-defying retirement age he typically set for himself and even more typically met, after one false retirement that was soon retracted.
American sport is quantified by statistics, so only half an apology for recalling that his other unsurpassed figures included 649 passing touchdowns and 7,753 pass completions. In his forties he even beat the numbers he set in his twenties, with the help of a reconstructed knee.
While we may quibble over whether LeBron James or Michael Jordan was the supreme being in basketball, who can say other than Brady is gridiron’s GOAT — the Greatest Of All Time?
In quantities easier for a British audience to understand, Brady earned some $1billion in wages and endorsements across 23 years, 20 of those reaching dizzying pinnacles with the New England Patriots prior to his retirement at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he spent an Indian summer, conquering the Super Bowl for one last time in 2021.
He could have earned even more riches had he not, for a number of years, accepted a discount from the Patriots so they could invest in the rest of the team and remain within the salary cap.
It is a sign of him being the ultimate competitor and winner and put him — as some would send up — close to sainthood.
It all began without much razzmatazz, though. Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jnr, born San Mateo, California, one of four children and the only son, a graduate of the University of Michigan, was selected as a distant 199th afterthought by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft, the biggest heist imaginable.
After that came 17 divisional titles, 11 of them consecutive, nine Super Bowl appearances and six titles with New England. In all, he has been named Most Valuable Player three times.
It was both their good fortunes that Brady was in concert with coach Bill Belichick, American Football’s answer to Sir Alex Ferguson, though it should be recorded that the Patriots have done nothing of note without their star quarterback to this day.
There was a dash of grit in the heady mix. Brady was disciplined for ordering the deflation of balls in the Patriots’ victory over the Indianapolis Colts in 2015 and was suspended for four games. His team were fined $1m and forfeited two draft selections.
Brady, who wore Make America Great Again caps in support of Donald Trump, completed his fairy-tale romance with Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen in a Catholic ceremony at Santa Monica in 2009.
In up-to-the-minute vernacular, Ken had met his Barbie. They had two children, Benjamin, 13, and Vivian, 10. The pair’s divorce was finalised in October last year. One theory behind the split was his reluctance to retire, an unwillingness to put family before his calling in sport.
Yet Bundchen told Vanity Fair: ‘What’s been said is one piece of a much bigger puzzle. It’s not so black and white.
‘I have always cheered for him and will continue for ever. If there’s one person I want to be the happiest in the world, it’s him, believe me. I want all his dreams to come true.’
His longevity was sustained by his diet, or so we are led to believe. It is called the TB12 Method, a largely plant-based regimen. Devised with alternative medicine practitioner Alex Guererro, it incorporates, ‘a series of healthy daily habits across five pillars — pliability, nutrition, hydration, movement and mental fitness’.
It is intended to reduce inflammation, provide energy, improve performance and aid recovery.
Organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes make up about 80 per cent of the fare. Grass-fed, organic meat and hormone and antibiotic-free poultry make up the remaining 20 per cent, along with wild-caught fish and seafood. Tomatoes are eschewed.
What they would have made of that at Trevor Francis’s Birmingham City is anyone’s guess, but that is modern sports science at its cutting edge.
These days, post-retirement, Brady is held up as an emblem of what looking after yourself can do to a sportsman. His name is cited when it is asked if his friend Lewis Hamilton can go on beyond the age of 38. ‘Look at Tom Brady, still at it at 45,’ said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff when the question came up. ‘Age is no barrier.’
By buying into a second-tier football club, Brady is no doubt seeking some sort of dividend. On this side of the Pond, few have managed financial glories for long post-career, value being apt to die when one’s playing days are over.
Sir Jackie Stewart is probably the best example of someone who has made it work, with his links to Ford, Rolex and Heineken, and as a team owner of his eponymous, Grand Prix-winning outfit, sold for a goldmine.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Arnold Palmer made a success of a stratospherically bank-busting retirement and endless appeal.
Tom Brady, superstar, may hope he is of the same ilk.