It Took Tom Brady 40 Days to Realize That Family Is Harder Than Football
Tom Brady retired from football … for a month and a few odd days. It was essentially just an extended vacation (or maybe, for Tom and his identity crisis, an extended anxiety attack), but somehow, it was long enough for the 44-year-old athlete to realize he'd made a major mistake and renege his life-changing decision.
This week, Brady announced on Instagram that his place is definitely "still on the field and not in the stands." People who love him were overjoyed and running around dumping beer on their heads and yelling, "he's back, baby!" People who hate him were … well, also dumping beer on their heads, but in a bad way.
No matter your opinions about Tom Brady as a person or as an athlete, pulling the shortest retirement ever is an irksome move. Perhaps stay-at-home-dadding didn't suit him. Hey, it's not for everyone. Or perhaps Tom was missing the screaming, adoring fans, the pats on the back, and all the perpetual ego-stroking that has become his absolute normal. As we all know, being a parent does not come with those kinds of accolades. It is the exact opposite of ego-stroking. It's ego-demolishing, in fact. When it comes to rough adjustments, going from football star to full-time family man is probably a doozy. This we can all understand.
But as a person who raised babies, mostly alone, I spent more time thinking about Tom Brady and his family since his retirement than I ever imagined I would. When he announced he was moving on, citing his need to give his wife and kids more of him, I thought to myself, "R-E-S-P-E-C-T!"
"It's not always what I want. It's what we want as a family," he said on his podcast. "And I'm gonna spend a lot of time with them and figure out in the future what's next." It seemed abundantly clear that there had been a moment, a breaking point, even if it was just an important conversation, that forced him to understand that 22 seasons and 7 Super Bowl titles were more than enough for one man. He literally came out and told the world that his wife "deserved" more from him. So … what the hell happened in the last 40 days to make her needs less indispensable?
We have no way of knowing what spurred Tom's head-spinning un-retiring. For all we know, G was the one to change her mind! Maybe he kept loading the dishwasher the wrong way, and she was like, "OMG, TOM. JUST GO." I mean, probably not, though, because Gisele has been open about wanting her husband to retire for years now. Even in carefully crafted PR-approved statements, she has said that she's worried about his safety, that it's hard to watch him get hit, and that she hopes he is growing tired of throwing balls.
Throwing balls is fun, though. And it's even better when no one notices that you're kind of really obsessed with yourself. Must be nice. While women are viewed as selfish for even having jobs after becoming mothers, men continue to be allowed to do whatever. The hell. They want. And it's not like Tom is running a bakery here. If he was making scones all day, OK, fine. But he's out there getting pounded into the ground in a sport that is far more dangerous than football enthusiasts care to admit. Head injuries are a constant reality. For reference, there were 224 (reported) concussions in 2019. During the pandemic, when there were no preseason games, there were still 172. They are so common, they're basically considered an annoying part of the job — the equivalent of taking out the trash for restaurant workers.
That's part of the reason that Tom's retirement seemed like the right thing to do, because he's an aging man in a young man's game, and it's really not safe, or wise. But he's also been in sports long enough to understand what it means to "take one for the team." His wife sure does because that's exactly what Gisele, who has a killer career of her own and who Tom has repeatedly called the "bread-winner," has been doing. He's not kidding, either. The "most beautiful woman in the world" is worth $400 million, which has come primarily from modeling, marketing campaigns, her skincare company, and more.
Tom doesn't want to be in the stands. OK, we get it. We really, really do. So, when do we give credit to the person who has actually been in the stands all this time? I mean, Gisele Bündchen doesn't belong on the sidelines either.
Queen Gisele has been stay-at-home-momming for a freaking lifetime at this point. Tom has gushed over how amazing she is over and over again. In 2019, he told Good Morning America about how he couldn't do anything he does without her. "The way she takes care of our family when I'm working, sacrificing a lot of her dreams," he said, "I can only tell her how much I love her." Actually, Tom, you could do a whole lot more than that. And you just missed your chance. Words are just words, at the end of the day, and women are sick of 'em. Not to mention, football isn't the only job that has a time limit on it. When it comes to careers that love youth, modeling is basically number one.
Tom's lengthy and trophy-dotted career might be really impressive to athletes, football people, sports nuts, etc. But for any mother who has ever felt sidelined by her husband's dreams, it's really not. It's more like the epitome of selfishness, and yet he's treated like a complete and utter hero for it. He has skill, and stamina, and clearly, a massive competitive streak. We already know that. We'd love to find out if he has the ability to take a seat before, ya know, he gets injured and can't get up.
Surely, there will be another Super Bowl and another trophy, and many congratulations. But if you're asking me, if anyone deserves the next damn trophy, it's Gisele. Because even if she is totally behind her man, another year on the field — with all of her worries about his safety, with the knowledge of everything he is missing at home, with just probably wanting a bit more from her husband after all of these relentless years on the sidelines — has to feel like a tough blow.
But as long as you're a woman — even when you're Gisele — you have to know how to take the hit.