Sports Illustrated’s latest cover story, understandably, is on Tom Brady and the freak hand injury he suffered in practice, as well as the way the New England Patriots are able to sustain their success and their play in the AFC title game last Sunday.
But buried at the bottom of the piece, written by Greg Bishop, is an interesting nugget:
Last spring Brady and his family vacationed with retired kicker Jay Feely, a close friend from their college days at Michigan. This being Brady, Feely prefers not to disclose the locale, but he does share that Brady’s wife, the supermodel Gisele Bündchen, spent time on that trip “trying to get me to convince [Tom] to stop playing.” And, Feely adds, “she was dead serious.”
Feely says he looked at his friend and told him, “Play as long as you can.” Brady smiled back and winked.
“For years he wanted to prove he belonged in this league,” Feely says. “He won three Super Bowls and still used perceived slights to motivate himself. And he’s still finding ways to motivate himself.”
Brady, as any NFL fan who doesn’t live in a cave knows, is 40 years old, and is wrapping up his 18th season in the league. Despite being at an age when pretty much any player, save some kickers and punters, is either out of the league or clearly on his last legs, Brady will likely be named Most Valuable Player for this season and is on the record numerous times as saying he’d like to play until he’s 45.
But Feely’s quote makes it easy to wonder if Brady’s wife supports the idea of him doing that. We already know Bundchen is concerned with head injuries and the concussions Brady has suffered, and Brady acknowledges that next to his family, nothing gets more attention than football.
The Patriots’ unbelievable comeback against the Atlanta Falcons last year marked Brady’s fifth Super Bowl win, more than any quarterback in NFL history and tied with linebacker/defensive end Charles Haley for most by any player. He owns pretty much every postseason record there is, and a number of regular-season records.
Point being, there’s not a lot left for him to prove.
It’s long been clear, however, that Brady may never get over draft weekend 2000, when he had to wait as long as he did – 198 picks, six quarterbacks taken before him – to be selected by New England, and won’t let go of that feeling of having to prove himself, even as he’s proven over and over what he’s capable of doing as an NFL quarterback.
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