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A theme in the latest episode of the documentary series “Man in the Arena” is Tom Brady discussing the transition his life underwent both on and off the field between 2008 and 2012.
Episode 5, “No Guarantees,” focused on a middle period in Brady’s career in New England. It was a time in which a new group of players—which Brady referenced as “the Patriots 2.0″—began to take shape around him.
And away from football, Brady and Gisele Bündchen’s relationship is chronicled. Bündchen is one of those featured on-camera in the episode, along with Brady, former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, and ex-Patriots assistant coach Bill O’Brien.
Here are a few observations from the fifth episode:
According to Bündchen, the relationship with Brady grew from a friendship into “a couple of dates.”
“Then he invited me to go to my first football game, which was against the Chargers,” Bündchen remembered. It was the AFC Divisional Round playoff win over the Chargers in January, 2007.
“I thought it was the most boring thing I had ever seen in my life,” Bündchen confessed, noting the differences between American football and soccer. “I was like what are they doing? Why do they stop all the time? Where is the goal?”
A defining moment in Brady’s career came in the first game of the 2008 season, when he tore his ACL and MCL on a tackle from Bernard Pollard.
The injury left Brady out for the entire season, and detached from his normal life.
“When I was out that whole season, I realized that playing the game brought me so much joy,” Brady acknowledged. “There’s a big hole in your life when you’re not doing what you love to do, which is to be a part of the team.”
“I felt like an outsider to that team,” Brady said.
Brady said that he was “anxious” and “stressed out” after the birth of his first son, Jack, in 2007 in trying to balance his personal life as his new relationship with Bündchen began. Jack is the son of Brady and actress Bridget Moynahan, who was living on the West Coast at the time.
“How is this all going to play out?” Brady recalled wondering.
As Bündchen explained, having a role in Jack’s life was something she threw herself into early on.
“It’s been the biggest blessing in my life, really,” Bündchen said. “I love Jack like he is my own little munchkin.”
Brady and Bündchen were married in 2009, deviating from a schedule the quarterback had always assumed he would be on.
“I didn’t think I’d be married until I was late in my career,” Brady admitted. “I thought late 30s, early 40s was when I was going to get married.”
But as Brady noted, by his 11th NFL season, he was married with two kids.
“My life was taken on a different road than I had thought it was going to take on,” Brady explained. “That forever changed my life.”
In 2011, the NFL went through a four-month work stoppage when the owners locked out the players due to an inability to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement.
The lockout spanned March through July, and prevented players from going through a normal offseason.
Brady and the Patriots got together for informal practice sessions at Boston College as players tried to stay on the same page.
When the lockout ended and the team returned to working with coaches, Bill Belichick was waiting with a new game plan.
“When we first got back to the facility, Coach Belichick said, ‘There are a lot of teams that probably haven’t done s*** this whole offseason,'” Brady recalled. “‘Players probably are out of shape. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to try to play a lot of no-huddle [offense].”
The team’s commitment to an up-tempo approach paid off, as New England once again became one of the most prolific offenses in the league.
O’Brien and Brady took a moment during the episode to break down their memorable sideline argument during a 2011 win over Washington. The incident came after an end zone interception originally intended for Patriots receiver Tiquan Underwood.
“I kind of did something that I don’t typically do, which is say to the receiver, ‘You have to come back and get the ball,'” Brady remembered. “I had no business saying that to Tiquan because it was my fault. And [O’Brien] heard it.”
Brady and O’Brien recalled the expletive-laden exchange between them, noting that the argument was something they were quickly able to move past.
In fact, as Brady noted, O’Brien’s nickname was based around his temper.
“We had a nickname for Billy,” Brady said of O’Brien. “He was called ‘The Teapot.'”
According to Brady, O’Brien’s temper would simmer until it boiled over. O’Brien, however, was quick to remind Brady that “you’re the teapot too.”
And as the 2011 season progressed, Patriots players began to list O’Brien’s “teapot” episodes on the side of an actual teapot.
Pitted against the Giants in yet another Super Bowl, Brady and the Patriots got off to a terrible start. On New England’s first offensive play, Brady committed intentional grounding from inside the Patriots’ end zone, resulting in a safety for New York.
It was a moment that Brady looked back on with a degree of self-deprecating humor.
“A lot of people probably lost their Super Bowl bets about the first person to score in the game,” Brady joked. “They didn’t realize it was going to be a safety. I’m sure that was [a] pretty long shot in the prop bets.”
Though Brady called losing Super Bowl XLII to the Giants his “toughest loss,” it’s clear that he holds his New York counterparts from that era in high regard.
“They were always a little thorn in our side, and I think because there was no fear with them,” Brady said of the Giants. “Sometimes we imposed some fear on some other teams, but never the Giants.”
Amid a back-and-forth battle in Super Bowl XLVI, Brady grudgingly gave the Giants credit.
“In typical Giants fashion, they’re just fighters too,” said Brady. Looking at the final outcome, Brady bluntly chalked it up to another closely fought clash with a familiar foe.
“There were a lot of what-ifs in that game,” Brady said. “Unfortunately, the f******* Giants were on the other end of it.”
In the aftermath of the Super Bowl loss, Bündchen was heard saying, “My husband cannot f****** throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time.”
The comment was in reaction to Welker’s crucial fourth quarter drop that could’ve moved the Patriots close to sealing the game. According to Brady, she told him about the soundbite later that night.
“You can’t say that,” Brady told Bündchen, though she didn’t initially believe it was a consequential moment.
“I thought I was mild on what I said,” Bündchen explained. “I mean it’s true. How can he do everything?”
Still, she quickly realized the implications of the comment as the postgame narratives took hold.
“The next morning, when they made it about Wes, it broke my heart,” Bündchen said, “because I was like, ‘Are you kidding?’ To me, that’s like the hardest working guy I know in that team.”
“I know where her heart is, and I know who she is, so I almost agreed with her at the time,” Welker admitted. “I was more mad at myself.”
“It’s just funny that you get remembered by the one [drop],” Welker lamented of the play. “It’s just something that I have to move on from.”
Of course, as Brady correctly pointed out, Welker’s drop came on second down of that drive.
“That was a huge play in the game, but at the same time, there was a play to be made on third down too,” said Brady, “and I didn’t do that one either.”
And in a wider view, Brady praised Welker’s contributions to the Patriots.
“There was nobody who could define what being a great teammate was, what doing the right thing was like Wes,” Brady explained. “You know Wes had the most amazing career for the Patriots. But we didn’t win the Super Bowls at those times.
“To me that doesn’t take away from what his amazing career was, and what his contributions were. If I’m starting a team to go to battle with, Wes Welker’s in that starting lineup.”
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