Tom Brady had a very unusual summer.
Because for the first time since he embarked on his 23-season NFL career in 2000, he didn't have to be game-ready by September.
Not that he didn't remain in impressive shape, maintaining his temple still a top priority for the seven-time Super Bowl winner even if he is watching football from the sidelines this year. And his schedule is still pretty packed for a retired guy.
"I have not been bored, I would say that," Brady told E! News from his Florida home in June last year, noting he'd just come back from attending a wedding in Europe. "There's been a lot going on."
In fact, it was "maybe a little bit busier than I would like."
Afterward, however, the 46-year-old got to enjoy some summer fun with his kids—Jack, 16, his son with former girlfriend Bridget Moynahan, and Benjamin, 14, and daughter Vivian, 11, with ex-wife Gisele Bündchen. And now, more than a year since his divorce was finalized, Brady is settling into a characteristically busy groove as a superstar athlete turned sky's-the-limit multihyphenate.
While the TB12 founder always had various irons in the fire, since hanging up his helmet (for real) a year ago he has purchased a piece of the WNBA's Las Vegas Aces as well as invested in the E1 World Championship, an electric boat-racing circuit—and he wants a minority stake in the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Bay Area native called the former Oakland team an "iconic NFL franchise," telling the Associated Press it would be "a dream come true" to be involved and something he'd be "interested in doing for the rest of my life."
The anytime-anywhere sports enthusiast was in northwestern France on June 10 to catch the start of 24 Hours of Le Mans, and by the next day he was in Paris for the French Open men's singles final, watching from a VIP perch in eventual champion Novak Djokovic's family box. For July 4th Brady donned the requested all-white ensemble for Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin's big bash in the Hamptons, where he rubbed elbows with the likes of Jay-Z, James Harden and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who called his team's former star "one of the most loving, caring and passionate players I have ever known" after Brady's retirement.
"Nobody does a party like @michaelrubin," Brady captioned a handful of pics from the event. "i definitely needed ALOT of electrolytes today."
He also told E! a year ago at the premiere of 80 for Brady, featuring the 15-time Pro Bowl pick as himself, that he was "definitely" open to more acting and producing. And, while he was still playing, the co-host of the Let's Go! podcast signed a reported 10-year, $375 million deal to join Fox Sports' NFL broadcasting team—which he seemingly still intends to do when the 2024 NFL season begins.
One of the few things not on the horizon for the empire-builder is a reality show—"I lived in reality TV for 23 years," he told E! in June—and suiting up ever again for an NFL team. Though try telling that to the players who weren't entirely buying this whole retired-for-good business. (And Brady couldn't possibly have watched Joe Flacco's unexpected run to the playoffs with the Cleveland Browns and not have thought, Why not me?...)
But probably he's done.
"P.S. The only downside to 2023 was when I was about to unretire in May and my friends threw a surprise retirement party," Brady—who was honored by the Patriots for his six-ring service during a September home game in Foxborough, Mass.—cracked in a Dec. 31 Instagram post reflecting on the year just past. "Kind of forced my hand."
Unlike the first time, in 2022, when reports of his retirement turned out to be greatly exaggerated, Brady announced Feb. 1, 2023, "I'm retiring, for good." He wouldn't be "long-winded," he promised, since "you only get one super emotional retirement essay, and I used mine up last year."
But having called it a career, he finally found "a little more time to do some other things," he told E! in June.
Top of mind for him at that very moment, however, was that it happened to be the last day of school for Ben and Vivian—each of whom, he'd found out that morning, had grown 2 inches in two months. "It's the individual moments that you share with the kids," Brady marveled. "I remember those moments with my parents, when I was under their roof, and they were able to shape me into the person I ended up becoming."
At the same time, he wanted his children to "grow up as their own unique individuals, with their own unique traits," Brady noted. "They're going to contribute into the world in the way that they see fit, and certainly not the way that their mom or dad see."
"They've got some fun things planned with me and their mom, to travel to different parts of the world," he said of their then-upcoming summer vacation. On the home front, he still had to "take care of some professional responsibilities, things I'm looking forward to in the fall," Brady said. "There's still a lot on my plate, it's not going to be a super-chill summer, but there'll be enough fun in between some work commitments."
Highlights from the Brady bunch's subsequent adventures, courtesy of Dad's Instagram, included a visit to Disneyland during a swing through California, taking flying leaps off a yacht in the Greek isles, enjoying a rustic lakeside retreat and an African safari with Vivian, the view from their breakfast table including elephants grazing on the veld.
"Always thinking about others," he captioned a picture of his daughter offering muffin crumbs to a bird.
In July, Brady shared a shot of Jack and Ben walking toward the ocean, punctuated with a few heart emojis.
"I'm trying to raise them—we all are, myself and their mom—in a very loving way toward one another," he told E!, "to be very kind, very empathetic, and to have great perspective. Our kids are growing up in different ways than we grew up, but also we want to raise them with the right values."
And though he's a world away from his humbler roots in San Mateo, Calif., he noted, "I still feel like I'm very much the same person that is going to do the best I could do with my kids, going to do the best I could do with the people I work with, and the people that I'm continuing to move forward in life with."
As celebrities do when they're single, the 6-foot-4 athlete has sparked his share of new-romance speculation, the list so far including Kim Kardashian ("friends and business partners in common, but not dating," a source told E!), Reese Witherspoon (not true, her rep said) and Irina Shayk (photographed together in July looking quite friendly in L.A. and still acquainted as of December).
Meanwhile, Brady tries his best to stay above the fray, even when the high road is not the easiest route.
"I get to look in the mirror and know the choices that I make," Brady told E! in June of dealing with the rumor mill. "I know how the world is today. There's a lot of things that are said that are there to create business opportunities for people."
But, he added, "News changes pretty fast and I honestly just go with the flow, just do the best with the opportunities that are presented in front of me. And if there are things that are written or said, you can't necessarily go out and control them, not that I'm trying to control anything anyway. I'm just trying to live a life of integrity and do the best I could."
Brady noted on Let's Go! in October that he's always hyper-aware of what he says in public—because the possible grief he could get for stepping wrong simply isn't worth the headache.
"I always try to say the right thing just because I don't want to deal with any more drama that's already in my life," he explained. "I already have a lot of drama—just because it's life, everyone's got their own things they're dealing with."
And he's in no rush to add his private life to the discourse.
Calling their divorce "the death of [her] dream," the Brazilian supermodel said in the March 2023 issue of Vanity Fair, "It's tough because you imagine your life was going to be a certain way, and you did everything you could, you know?" But, she added, "I believed in fairy tales when I was a kid. I think it's beautiful to believe in that. I mean, I'm so grateful I did."
The 43-year-old later told Vogue Brasil it's her belief that "every situation, no matter how challenging, teaches us something and helps us grow. Breakups are never easy."
Brady opened up in unprecedented ways while in the fourth quarter of his career, first with the Facebook Watch series Tom vs. Time, filmed during the 2017 season, and then the 2021 ESPN+ docuseries Man in the Arena—and he has candidly acknowledged that his commitment to football prevented him from being the year-round partner to Bündchen that he should have been.
But for the most part, especially since the split, he tends to speak in broader terms when it comes to acknowledging any challenges behind the scenes and how he's dealing.
"Cherishing the highs, learning from the lows, and looking forward to what's coming next," he also posted Dec. 31. "I'm blessed to have family and friends filled with so much love, joy, and compassion surrounding me. As you get older, you realize that this is really the only thing that matters, and I'll never take these people for granted. Hug your kids, call your parents, tell your friends that you love them, and let's all help make 2024 a kinder and happier year for everyone in our lives."
As for Brady specifically, he said on the first episode of Let's Go this year, "Holiday season's over and I think for me it's really a time to focus about the goals, looking forward to what's ahead in 2024."
Detailing his ever-evolving approach to life, he said, "If you're staying the same, that's a difficult place to be. We're growing in a lot of areas. We have our challenges physically—younger, middle age, beyond that. Mentally, how are we continuing to evolve and grow as a person, in our relationships? And then, emotionally, how do we stay stable and how do we make sure that we set our priorities and that our actions reflect our priorities?"
When it comes to living one's values, Brady added, "We all have a chance to do something about it every day."
Keep heading downfield to see how Tom Brady has been keeping busy since retiring from football:
(Originally published Aug. 3, 2023, at 5 a.m. PT)