Where Tom Brady, Boston stars rank among highest-paid athletes in 2021

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Where Brady, Boston stars rank among world's highest-paid athletes originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The past year was difficult financially for many professional sports teams and athletes. But the brightest stars in sports still found ways to shine -- and earn a pretty decent living in the process.

Sportico unveiled its list of the 100 highest-paid athletes in 2021 based on a combination of salary and endorsement earnings. As you might expect, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback and former New England Patriots star Tom Brady is pretty high on the list.

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Brady ranks eighth overall, raking in a cool $80.4 million over the last calendar year ($58.4 million in salary/winnings and $22 million in endorsements). Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who just signed a lucrative contract extension, is the only NFL player higher than Brady on the list at No. 4 ($108.4M in earnings).

UFC star Conor McGregor is this year's highest-paid athlete with a whopping $208 million in earnings, while three soccer stars -- Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar -- LeBron James and tennis legend Roger Federer round out the top seven.

That's impressive company for Brady to keep, and it's thanks in part to his success: The 43-year-old QB made "only" $25 million in base salary with the Bucs last season but earned several million in incentives by winning his seventh Super Bowl title.

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Brady also runs his own business (TB12 Sports) and has multiple endorsement deals (just visit his Instagram page), so it's no wonder he felt comfortable dropping $6 million on a new yacht earlier this month.

As for current Boston athletes, only two cracked Sportico's top 100: New Patriots linebacker Matt Judon (46th with $35M in earnings) and Celtics guard Kemba Walker (tied for 60th at $30.6M).

Those may not have been the names you were expecting. But Judon's $13.6 million in average salary is highest on the Patriots, while Walker is by far the highest-paid Celtic at $34.4 million per year.