The people most associated with the Patriots’ recent run of success are your usual suspects: Tom Brady, Bill Belichick – even Robert Kraft gets some credit. Those guys make sense, right?
Brady throws the ball, and even though he also doesn’t catch it, the 40-year-old has a claim to that legendary GOAT status. He has the numbers. He has the wins. He has the postseason success. And he’s done it at a high level over a large amount of time.
Belichick is the evil genius. He’s coached the Pats to seven Super Bowl appearances in 16 years. He’s ruthless with the salary cap and a master at evaluating the worth of players. The results speak for themselves.
Kraft is the money behind the machine. He had the foresight to hire Belichick and then defer to his coach on most football decisions (*cough, cough* except Jimmy Garoppolo).
But I’m here to tell you, there is someone else that not only should be mentioned among these titans of football, this person should in fact be considered the driving force behind the Patriots’ success.
Her name is Gisele Bundchen. And she is married to Tom Brady.
There are a lot of reasons the Patriots are good every year, but one major reason is their ability to manage the cap. Rarely do they overpay for a player’s services. Seriously, they’re worse than those people who get charged an extra 50 cents and then scream for a manager, threaten to sue and destroy a food stand on the way out of the store.
That discipline/manic cheapness allows the Patriots to be at least competitive at most positions just about every season. They build depth into their 53-man roster and when one man goes down, it’s always next man up. The Patriots are often described as a machine, and this is a reason why. You can thank Belichick and his robot-like brain along with his Night King-esque heart for that.
On the player side of things, Tom Brady has been the constant. Last season, he led the league in passing yards with 4,577. He also tossed 32 touchdowns (third in the NFL) against eight interceptions. His QB rating was 102.8, which also was third-highest in the league.
Want to guess his ranking in terms of how much he got paid compared to other QBs?
Twentieth. He made $14 million last season.
Ryan Tannehill made more money last year. Sam Bradford made more money. JOE FLACCO made more money than Tom Brady. Now these guys got paid more than a lot of other QBs too. Clearly, some of these players above Brady are a little overvalued.
However, for years, Brady has always taken a bit of a discount. Many, many times, he should have been making a lot more money than he was, based on the QB market. But he’s reworked his contract numerous times, signing team-friendly deals over and over and over again.
This has allowed Belichick and company to spend some of that freed-up cap space at other positions, often making the Patriots the deepest team in the league year in and year out.
Obviously Terrific Tom likes to win. When he’s not winning, he looks like he’s about to pop a vein. So, sure, he’d take a pay cut to help pay for better teammates.
But here’s another reason he’s likely willing to take less money:
The Brazilian supermodel is worth $360 million. Her earnings dwarf Brady’s. Without the love of his life, would Brady still be willing to take pay cuts like he has?
But maybe not. Brady has expensive tastes. He likes to go to Kentucky Derby/megafight double features with his pals, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Who’s buying the rounds? Gronk with his measly $6.5 million? No, it’s Brady. Brady’s the quarterback. Of course, he’s buying the rounds.
Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick and the entire country of New England owe Gisele their undying love and gratitude. Without her worthy sacrifice of marrying the most annoyingly driven QB ever, would the Pats even be in a position to put a competitive team on the field?
Here’s some context: Over the past six seasons, the Patriots are 75-21. Tom Brady’s contract rank in that span:
Here’s Brady’s QB rating and its ranking over the last six seasons:
2017: 102.8 (3rd)
2016: 112.2 (2nd)
2015: 102.2 (4th)
2014: 97.4 (5th)
2013: 87.3 (17th)
2012: 98.7 (6th)
Brady outplays his contract, in part, because his contract is a lot less than it could be. And the Patriots have been better for it.
When you combine the fact that New England hardly ever overpays for a player, with its franchise cornerstone getting paid below what’s he’s worth, you set up the sort of financial situation that leads to a winning season or 17, a couple of Super Bowls and the kind of success that makes all the free world hate you with a fury usually reserved for dictators and the Star Wars prequel movies.
Oh sure, he’s got endorsement deals with the likes of Under Armour, UGG, and Aston Martin, not to mention his very own cult, I mean human performance company, TB12. But Gisele Bundchen is obviously the security blanket that keeps all of Brady’s financial obligations perfectly balanced with his deal-with-the-devil desire to win.