Get ready for the emergence of Tampa Bay Tom

Dan WetzelColumnist
Yahoo Sports

Tom Brady lived in a gloriously beautiful home during his final years with the New England Patriots. This is no surprise. The man made hundreds of millions of dollars playing football and endorsing products. His wife, Gisele Bündchen, made hundreds of millions more as a supermodel, actress and businesswoman.

Yet as expansive and expensive as their house was — 9,700-square feet and listed for $39.5 million last fall — it was classic New England, with its opulence cloaked in understated tradition. 

The brick construct, the exposed beams and five acres — complete with “barn-inspired” guest house — was all tucked behind thick, foliage-ready trees on Woodland Drive, right on the Brookline-Chestnut Hill border. It was steps from Boston’s exclusive, 138-year-old golf and social club simply known as The Country Club.

It was gorgeous. It was also demur and hidden, a testament to old-school, apologetic Puritanism.

Well, new team … new town … new digs … new attitude?

Meet Tampa Bay Tom.

Tom Brady is starting a new chapter in Tampa. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
Tom Brady is starting a new chapter in Tampa. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Brady left New England behind last month and agreed to a two-year deal with the Buccaneers, a franchise with limited tradition but a garish pirate ship in one end zone. 

And based on Tom and Gisele’s new home, he’s embracing every bit of Florida culture, in general, and Tampa, in particular.

Forget understated elegance, Brady is moving into a 30,875-square foot mansion that features seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a massive pool, a poolside entertainment and billiards parlor, two separate three-car garages and not one, but two boat lifts. 

It sprawls across three lots in a gated-community overlooking Hillsborough Bay. Even by the look-at-me, new-money standards of some parts of Florida, the place stands out. It was originally built by New York Yankees star Derek Jeter and referred to locally for years as “St. Jetersburg.” 

Former Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon once joked to The New York Times that the house was so big that his team, which has struggled with a suitable home stadium, “could actually play there.”

If nothing else, the rental should dispel any lingering doubts back in Massachusetts that Brady would miss the four seasons and colonial quaintness of his home for the past two decades. 

Certainly part of the appeal of the place was security — its Davis Islands location is heavily patrolled, and the home has a 6-foot wall around it that Jeter needed special permission to build. 

And it’s worth noting that Tom and Gisele once owned a home in Los Angeles that was surrounded by a koi-stocked moat, so this isn’t their first foray into extravagance.

Plus, it’s just 20 minutes from the Bucs’ practice facility, so it’s not all play and no work.

Still, he could have found that in a place that shouted “Do Your Job” and “No Days Off” a little more than this.

When you have a house with two boat lifts, this seems more like he’s moving into a midlife Tampa Bay Vice era.

Tampa is a brilliant, if uneven, confluence of country and city, of luxury SUVs and T-shirt shops, of nouveau riche and barefoot fishing, of celebrating humidity, adult ballets, deviled crabs, potent Ybor City cocktails and oversized cigars. 

It’s exactly the kind of place where you build a 30,000-square-foot home.

One of the underlying factors in Brady’s decision to switch teams was that after 20 seasons in New England and incredible dedication to extend his career past his upcoming 43rd birthday, Brady would try to enjoy what he had left. He’d earned it.

In New England, winning was the only thing (a culture he helped create). Even last season’s 8-0 start came with tempered enthusiasm because everyone, Brady included, knew that the team was likely too flawed to hold up in the playoffs.

In Tampa, where the Bucs haven’t reached the playoffs since 2008 and haven’t won a postseason game since Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003, such a start would likely set off a bonus Gasparilla Pirate Festival.

Tampa has more weapons to throw to, an offensive-minded head coach, brilliant weather and a bright, fresh start. 

That’s fun. 

Brady made his legend on those dark, snowy nights in Foxborough and the elegant, classic beauty of Massachusetts.

This is a new day, though. And based on him moving into something that could best be described as a waterfront boutique hotel and resort — not a single family house — he’s all in on that.

If you have to shelter in place, Tampa-style isn’t a bad way to go.

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