Getting at the real Tom Brady
I learned more about Tom Brady listening to two hours of a Howard Stern interview than I did reading 20 years of Boston sports pages.
I’ve watched Brady religiously season after season, fascinated by his drive to win and his knack at consistently pulling it off. But in all the interviews on WEEI, with the Boston Globe, and other local news outlets, Brady tended to come across as cautious, someone who was very careful about what he said. He was still that way to some degree with Stern, but he relaxed a bit, had some fun.
It turns out Brady is a big fan of Stern. He said he used to listen to Stern’s radio show driving to Gillette Stadium and loved his movie Private Parts. He reminded Stern they had met each other around 2003 at a polo grounds party in the Hamptons attended by Jay-Z and Rhianna. Brady said Stern dissed him. “You kind of big-timed me,” Brady said. Stern, who is not a sports fan, said he remembered the party but not meeting Brady.
Most people think Stern is a shock-jock moron, but he’s a tremendous interviewer. He does his homework and has an uncanny ability to get people to open up about themselves, discuss what drives them, and analyze their insecurities.
We learned how Brady wasn’t much of a student, how he considered himself a good athlete growing up but never a great one in high school or in college. He almost didn’t get drafted by the NFL, but he went on to become one of the greatest football players of all time. He credits his parents for a lot of his success in life.
Stern explored Brady’s relationship with New England Patriots coach Bill Bellichick and Brady was convincing in explaining how they got along well. He dismissed all the speculation that the coach and quarterback were in some sense rivals in the debate over who is most responsible for the Patriots success. “I think it’s a pretty shitty argument,” Brady said. “I can’t do his job and he can’t do mine.”
We learned how a mutual friend set Brady up with supermodel Giselle Bundchen, and how an initial date in a Greenwich Village wine bar turned into a lasting relationship that survived the news that Brady’s ex-girlfriend, Bridget Moynahan, was pregnant with his son. Stern said most women would have walked away after hearing that news. “Yeah,” said Brady. “That was a very unique time.”
Brady acknowledged Bundchen laid into him for fixating on football and his other business interests and putting their family second. They saw a marriage counselor and worked it out.
The interview covered a lot of ground. Brady talked about his love of the locker room (some were offended) and sports. He and Stern talked about their friendships with Donald Trump, Brady’s diet, Gronk, and, yes, penises, a favorite Stern topic. Brady was also honest about the concussions he’s suffered and what it was like watching the Super Bowl this year from his couch. “We didn’t deserve to be there,” he said.
Stern kept probing why Brady left the Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Was it the money? Was it getting rid of Belichick. Stern never got a clear answer. We learned Brady sensed he would be leaving the Patriots even before last season started, that he enjoyed being courted by other teams, and, perhaps most important, was eager for change and a new challenge. “It was just time,” Brady said.
“You’re out of prison now,” Stern said to Brady, referring to the by-the-book Patriots organization. “Is this the new Tom Brady?”
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LIVING WITH CORONAVIRUS
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