Tom Brady has claimed almost every major NFL quarterback performance record, on his way to staking a claim as football’s Greatest Of All Time. But his recent ‘unretirement’ shows that the athlete remains hungry for new challenges, and opportunities to grow – something that he extends to his downtime by sailing Hillsborough Bay in his Wajer 77 yacht.
As he reveals to RSNG, taking the helm is something he’s quite happy to be a rank amateur at but – as with the rest of his life – he still refuses to be a passenger…
Tom Brady is a man whose endeavors, even at the age of 44, still see him ranked as one of the very best in American Football. But he’s grounded enough to acknowledge where his skills are lacking.
So, while time spent on board his cherished Wajer 77 yacht is his favorite way of relaxing away from daily duties at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he would be the last to claim any special nautical knowledge. “I realized many years ago there were some things I’d be good at in life and other things… well, less so,” he laughs.
When I left the Patriots in 2020, the end goal really was to extend the time I had playing, to reach out for a new challenge, leave the Boston area and keep things fresh
“You ride the rollercoaster of what you do in life, but all the while you should try to grow knowledge and experience and interest in other things, and that’s kind of where I am with yachting.
“It’s something we – as a family – have discovered quite recently, but it gives us so much joy.”
Rebooting A Career Brady’s ‘unretirement’ in February of this year only serves to reinforce his move to Tampa Bay, at a time when many thought he would see out a glittering career with the Patriots.
“I think mentally when I left the Patriots in 2020 it was a case of moving from a legacy, and that was tough to do. Yet the end goal really was to extend the time I had playing, to reach out for a new challenge, leave the Boston area and keep things fresh,” he admits.
“That’s much the same logic I attach to time away from the football field. I can’t be of the mindset that my life away from the sport connects too much with the sport, which is why doing things on the yacht feels likes such a huge diversion for me, and is really valuable for two reasons – one, it’s such a cool place to be; but just as importantly because it separates my mind and my life.”
Brady’s yachting adventures take the form of his prized $6million vessel named Viva la Vida, having recently upgraded from the Wajer 55S seen at Tampa Bay’s waterside Super Bowl parade in 2020. Brady threw the Lombardi trophy from the back of his yacht in what was a first fling of NFL glory with the Buccaneers. Soon after, shipbuilder Wajer was instructed to prepare a beefed-up version for Brady.
The result is a 77ft colossus whose three bedrooms have extended capabilities for the overnight and weekend trips the family like to undertake down Florida’s east coast, and on to the Bahamas. The craft also has a huge amount of tech, including a versatile, rotating deck, an advanced under-foot cooling system outside, and much quieter engine.
A New Set Of Rules “Being a yachtie is all pretty new to me,” he says. “Naturally when I was at New England all that time, and based in Boston, I was surrounded by a passionate boating community. But moving down to Tampa Bay really stepped it up for me.
“I found myself right here on this beautiful coastline around Hillsborough Bay, and I think we all, as a family, really felt swept along by the seafaring vibe. I decided then it was definitely time to embrace that side of things and perhaps begin early preparations for what I might do in retirement, whenever that may come… just not yet,” he laughs.
Brady actually set out initially with the Dutch shipbuilder’s smaller 38ft version. “It seems I am stepping up the charge every year or so, and actually that feels like a good thing to me,” he says. “I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, and there is a lot to get your head around.
I am the kind of person that I want to work it out for myself, rather than have someone do it all for me
“I am the kind of person that I want to work it out for myself, rather than have someone do it all for me. I don’t want to just be a passenger or someone who sits on the boat and lets others do the hard work… neither on the boat or in the rest of my life.
“A big part of the appeal for me is really getting my hands dirty and investing my own time in a project that should be a wonderful thing for our family for a long while to come.”
Family Time The Florida coastline clearly offers numerous options for Brady, whose wife is Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen. The couple have three children – John, 14; Benjamin, 12; and Vivian, nine.
“When you have young kids, it just feels even more like an activity that’s worth investing in. We spent Christmas and New Year on our boat and have had some great moments since we’ve been here.”
As for the name, Viva la Vida is Portuguese for ‘celebration of life’. “My wife, being Brazilian, is very much into that vibe, so it feels like the right name for us and a marker for what we want to go on to achieve in the next phase of what we do.
“There are some great reefs around here, and we love to go diving and snorkeling, so it’s all about being out there and active.”
At 6’4” Brady has stature that extends well beyond the seven Super Bowl titles he has claimed – six with the New England Patriots and one with Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And yet, the sense is there is still more to come from the most decorated NFL player of his generation.
Driven To Improve What keeps Brady at the forefront of the game is his unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Some of his contemporaries of the same age are now a decade retired, yet Brady – who will be 45 by the time the new season starts – doesn’t see age as a barrier, neither to success nor improvement.
“I am still looking at ways to improve my game and that’s the only way to be,” he says. “I think when you get to the point where your consideration is just on retaining and maintaining performance, you are probably on a downward slope.
“In a game, I will probably only nail one throw in seven or eight to the point where I am totally happy with the execution, the direction, the accuracy; and that’s a number I keep wanting to improve. That’s my first aim in a game – it has to be, as a quarterback.
“So for 20 years my measure of performance is about getting that number down to one in five, say. By keeping my mindset in the area of moving forward, I think I am able to retain other parts of my game that are perhaps of secondary focus.
“As always, it becomes about the whole package, but as long as I feel I have something to offer, I’ll keep going.”
Even if that keeps him away from his cherished yacht for longer? “I think there will be plenty of time for that in future, and no better way to spend time relaxing when you know you have worked hard, and your job is done!”
WHAT NEXT? For more on great NFL quarterbacks, read the RSNG interview with Patrick Mahomes to find out why he believes that preparation breeds success…